Friday, February 1, 2008

Response to a Supporter of the Military Ban Against Gays

Servicemembers United, composed of veterans working to have DADT repealed, recently received an email from retired US Navy Commander Wayne L. Johnson of Alexandria, VA. You can read his full comments over on Alexander Nicholson's blog. Since Alex is asking for readers to respond to Cdr. Johnson's remarks, below is my contribution to the discussion:

CDR Johnson:
In the 1993 law that bars homosexuals from serving, Congress noted that the military lifestyle is not compatible with a homosexual one.

A 'finding' which has been shown to be without merit for at least 3 reasons:

1. Every major study sponsored by DoD since the 1950s (yes, I said 1950s) has found this claim to be without merit.

2. Just about every major ally of the United States from Australia to Israel to the U.K. since 1993 have compiled quite a record showing this 'finding' to be without merit.

3. DoD's own actions in sharply reducing the number of discharges under DADT when unit cohesion is put to its greatest test: combat.

Most members of Congress are fairly well educated. President Clinton signed it into law and he was a Rhodes Scholar.

Most politicians care more for getting re-elected than anything else. Pandering for votes is not limited to any particular political party. Clinton signed the bill because he was a spineless politician who refused to expend the political capital to get this through. DADT was only one area in which he "forgot" his stated principles. I wonder, sir, whether you'll have the same view of Congress and whomever the president is when DADT is finally repealed?

It is sort of crazy to have a law that bars gays from the military but not being able to ask about it during the recruiting process.

Agreed, which is one reason I believe DADT should be repealed.

If the DADT policy was dropped as the generals recommend, honest homosexuals would be barred from enlisting per the law.

You assume too much. I enlisted prior to the DADT policy and honestly answered "no" when asked. I was a virgin at the time and given what was taught about homosexuality back then, especially in the South where I grew up, homosexuality was a myth. A choice one supposedly made and feelings to overcome. I obviously didn't want to make that 'choice'. Much to my dismay though, such nonsense was proven to be false. Restoring the pre-DADT ban will not remove homosexuals from the military nor make this issue go away.

Gays will always be in the military; they will just have to go back to lying to join.

Again, you assume too much. I didn't lie nor do I believe many others do.

Right now many in the public are not concerned about this since our military is all volunteer, but one day we could have a draft again.

That is something they will have to accept just like those drafted during Vietnam, for example, had no choice about desegregation. Unless we find ourselves in another WWII-type war, I doubt we'll see a draft anytime soon. No politician of either party seriously wants one given how quickly this would cost them their reelection. Well, no politician who is serious about reinstating the draft instead of using the idea to score cheap political points against their opponents (*cough* Rangel *cough*).

There is one form of discrimination that no one has made note of that I am aware of. Under a 1986 Federal law, the military must keep HIV positive personnel, mostly male homosexuals, until their health makes them too ill to work.

Why do you assert the majority of such personnel are "male homosexuals"? Do you have something credible to sustain such a claim or is this just an assumption? I'm not certain what the best course would be in this area. If they present no serious danger to their fellow servicemembers and their commands want to retain them, I'm okay with it.

This is spelled out in gay activists’ organizing materials when it comes to recruiters coming to college campuses.

Once more you assume too much, sir. Homosexuality does not dictate one's moral or political beliefs. These activists you speak of do not represent me or any other gay veteran I know of in seeking to bar military recruiters from college campuses. I wholeheartedly support the Solomon Amendment and reject the reasoning of its opponents. Activism is right and proper in dealing with Congress who passed this law, not with the military who is bound to carry it out.

Their real reason is they know their reasoning would not stand up to a logical and spirited (no name calling) debate.

Um...Commander, are you aware of what Servicemembers United does? This group has had no problem debating this in very conservative forums and will do so again when a good opportunity arises.

UPDATE: I added some links for more information to my comments above.

UPDATE: A recent visitor to this blog came here after a Google search for "Wayne L. Johnson" and the word "gay". Interesting set of links this brought up. Johnson's 2005 opinion column on the Solomon Amendment I largely agree with and he might be surprised to find that we probably also agree about related episodes such as the 2005 decision by San Francisco to refuse the USS Iowa and the despicable resolution passed this week in the city of Berkeley to harass Marine recruiters. Our fight is with Congress, not the military. These kind of actions by overzealous activists dishonor all veterans, straight and gay. Yet Johnson's letter to the Army Times on then-JCS Chairman General Peter Pace's controversial remarks I do not agree with. He certainly has the right to his own views on this or any other subject, but not to have expressed them while acting as JCS Chairman. Even the general seemed to understand how inappropriate this was in the statement he released:
"I made two points in support of the policy during the interview. One, "Don't Ask Don't Tell" allows individuals to serve this nation; and two, it does not make a judgment about the morality of individual acts.

"In expressing my support for the current policy, I also offered some personal opinions about moral conduct.

"I should have focused more on my support of the policy and less on my personal moral views."