Tag Archives: gays in military

Speaking Out for Pride


Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

Yesterday  I had the chance to speak at the Staff College’s LGBT Pride ceremony. I asked to speak because I felt it was important for people to get a historical and personal account from a heterosexual who has served continuously since 1981. I have recounted my story of how as a white, heterosexual, Christian, military officer and chaplain my journey to support the rights of LGBTQ people. 

Though I have written about this subject many times, today was the first time that I spoke in front of peers and colleagues. I was able to recount how things have changed since I entered the army in 1981. That was a time when it was easy to demean and even persecute LGBTQ people. The amount of anti-gay prejudice then was pervasive and so normal that it didn’t even seem wrong. Likewise, it was not permitted for Gays to serve in the military, and even if they were exemplary soldiers, sailors, Marines, or airman even an unprovable allegation by someone was enough to ensure that they were punished and discharged from the military under other than honorable conditions. 

After I was commissioned and sent to Germany to serve in a Medical company, I had soldiers in my platoon who were either Gay or Lesbian. They were exceptionally discreet and were some of the best soldiers in the company. These men and women were exceptional, they volunteered for duties beyond what was needed, and when others fell down on the job, the stepped in, doing extra work and taking field assignments. They were solid, dependable, and always ready to do more that required to get the mission done. At that moment I realized that Gays and Lesbians should be allowed to serve. 

When I became the company commander dealing far too many other real disciplinary issues ranging from sexual assault, drug use, robbery, vandalism, DUI, and other assorted issues, I realized that it would be stupid to punish some of my best soldiers, and to create a lot more work for me, so I began my own policy of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell over seven years before that policy went into effect. 

My next assignment was at the Academy of Health Sciences at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio. There I served as the Adjutant for the Academy Brigade. I was a newly promoted Captain and recent graduate of the army’s Military Personnel Officer course. It was about that time that HIV and AIDS became a national concern, and military physicians and researchers, realizing that this was a threat to military health and readiness were in the forefront of the efforts to find out about this disease. Likewise, the military needed personnel policies that would allow servicemen and women infect with HIV to be able to continue their service. 

As a result, being that I was the junior medical personnel officer present, and senior officers wanted nothing to do with HIV or those infected I was assigned to work with Department of the Army personnel on developing personnel policies for those infected, and to be the point of contact for every soldier in our command who had tested positive for HIV. Those experiences with men infected with HIV gave me a compassion for their suffering, and made me question things that many of my Christian friends said about Gays. Instead of people to be scorned and consigned to hell, I realized that they were deserving of empathy and compassion. After I left active duty and went to seminary and became a chaplain I did a pastoral care residency at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, Texas, where I was immersed in the life and death struggles of men and women dying of AIDS related infections and cancers. I saw men who were dying who were treated shamefully by their “Christian” family members and had their partners forbidden to be with them in their dying hours. At the same time I saw other Christian families care for and love the partners of their dying sons. 

I was in the National Guard when the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy went into effect. It was a step in the right direction, but not enough. I knew Gays and Lesbians who served, but still lived in fear that something might lead to their removal from the service for simply being Gay. I remember one of my friends, now retired, who spent the first 18 years of her career in fear and on more than one occasion during the DADT era being investigated by her command due to allegations made against her. I cannot imagine what that would be like. 

Since returning to active duty in the navy in 1999 I have served with sailors and Marines, officers and enlisted who were Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual. Most were exemplary Sailors and Marines. Some are still serving, but now after the repeal of DADT are able to do so openly. Likewise, with ruling in favor of Marriage Equality in the Obergfell v. Hodges case, these men and women can now marry, and their spouses are considered military spouses. 

I a proud to serve alongside these men and women, people who swear the same oath that I have to support and defend the Constitution of the United Staates, and our nation in a time of war when under one percent of the American population serves in the military. They are part of my military family, my brothers and sisters who go into harm’s way to defend our way of life. 

So yesterday I was proud to speak out, not just giving my story in a nutshell, but recounting examples from history and connecting the most important thing for me; that being the radical proposition that is the heart of the Declaration of Independence, “we hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. – That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among men…” 

For me that is the most important thing, and it is something that I am always reminded of when I visit Gettysburg and read Abraham Lincoln’s univeralization of those rights in his Gettysburg Address. In that short speech, Lincoln noted that our founders created a new nation, “conceived in Liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” Lincoln’s words were as revolutionary, and perhaps even more than those contained in the Declaration of Independence, because he was now fighting a war against fellow Americans who had seceded from the Union based on the proposition that blacks were not citizens, and for that matter were less human than whites, something specified in the Confederate Constitution and declared in each declaration of secession voted on by the states that made up the Confederacy. 

The truth that all men are created equal  and that this nation is  dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal is the basis of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the Constitution, the 19th Amendment, the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts, as well as the decision to repeal DADT and the recent Supreme Court Rulings which gave LGBTQ people the right to marry. For me, this is the extension of Liberty, and finally I was able to speak publicly to affirm that I stand by my LGBTQ friends, realizing, like Lincoln, that this is still an “unfinished work” and I dedicate myself to continue to stand alongside them in an era where many still would attempt to restrict those rights, or even kill them simply because of who they are. 

Because of this I will continue to speak out and right in support of my LGBTQ brothers and sisters who serve our country, as well as all people. 

So have a good day,

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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Filed under ethics, faith, History, LGBT issues, Military, Political Commentary

Gordon Klingenschmitt Calls Admiral Mullen a “Liar”

How do you know when Gordon Klingenschmitt is lying?

When his lips are moving.

Well Gordon James “Chaps” Klingenschmitt a former Navy Chaplain convicted by a Special Court Martial for disobeying a lawful order not to wear his uniform to participate in a partisan political rally back in 2006 is at it again.  The defrocked Priest, former chaplain, convicted criminal, compulsive liar, and theological thug has called the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen a “liar” in an e-mail sent out through the Washington Times Marketing Showcase in which he was calling for Christians to join his petition “DEFENDING OUR TROOPS AGAINST OPEN HOMOSEXUAL AGGRESSION.” Since I received this unsolicited and poisonous e-mail I figured that thousands of others had it well. The fact that the conservative bastion Washington Times allows a man of Klingenschmitt’s low ethical and moral character to send out poison like this to collect money for his particular political-religious crusade shows me that this paper is nothing more than a shill for the extreme right wing fringe of American political and religious life.

Klingenschmitt who has little regard for truth as was evidenced during his relentless campaign against the Navy while serving as an active duty Navy Chaplain as per his standard operating procedure has one again engaged in the character assassination of yet another military officer, this time Admiral Mullen.  Klingenschmitt who has a palpable propensity to spin the truth in such a manner that it is no longer recognizable as truth; has launched this gratuitous attack against Admiral Mullen using the venomous invective that is his specialty.  The title of his e-mail reads: “Top Admiral Lies to Senate about Homosexuality.”  If I recall lying to Congress is like a felony, so not only has Klingenschmitt accused Admiral Mullen of being a liar but committing a Federal Crime.  Well I guess that Klingenschmitt knows what that is about having done it himself and then using it afterward to make a decent living off of gullible Klingenschmitt believing Christians who I sometimes refer to as the Klingenban who eager eat up his fabricated tails of being persecuted for “praying in Jesus Name.”

Since lying to congress is a pretty stiff charge to level at anyone let’s see the Klingenfraud’s leap of legal logic which allows him to make such a claim about the nation’s top military officer.  Klingenschmitt is his e-mail makes the following explanation of his case in his e-mail:

CHAIRMAN OF JOINT CHIEFS DEMANDS HOMOSEXUALS LIE TO MILITARY

Tuesday the Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen deceived the Senate Armed Services Committee, repeating President Obama’s demand to repeal the “don’t ask, don’t tell” (DADT) prohibition against open homosexual aggression within the ranks of the military.  “We have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens,” Admiral Mullen fibbed, revealing his personal belief that “allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly would be the right thing to do.”

First he claims that Admiral Mullen “deceived the Senate Armed Services Committee” by “repeating President Obama’s demand to repeal “the don’t ask, don’t tell” (DADT) prohibition against open homosexual aggression within the ranks of the military.”  If don’t ask, don’t tell was a “prohibition against homosexual aggression in the military” then the charge might have merit, but alas Gordon is serving up his own lie.  “Don’t ask don’t tell” was designed to protect homosexuals and allow them to serve in the military with the restriction that they could not openly admit that they are homosexual and to prevent commanders or others from asking if they are homosexual which then could be used against them in judicial, non-judicial and administrative procedures which leave them with a criminal record like Mr. Klingenschmitt and end their career.  It was never designed to protect the military from “homosexual aggression” as is charged by Mr. Klingenschmitt.  The fact that the nation’s top military officer supports allowing homosexuals to serve openly is lying by saying that don’t ask, don’t tell is a “policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they areis frankly insulting to any rational human being.  The policy indeed forces these men and women to daily hide a major part of who they are in order to serve.

Now here is where Mr. Klingenschmitt’s argument gets a little bit, oh well a lot loopy.  Instead of perusing any actual point of law in regard to the crime of lying to congress he goes into an anti-homosexual screed built around his theology which is taken loosely out of Romans Chapter One but even so incoherently argued that it makes your head spin.  It as if that he believes that his interpretation of scripture places him as the judge of Admiral Mullen or anyone, especially homosexuals who dare to disagree with him.  He then makes this incredibly ignorant statement of circular logic that says in short that homosexual man are trying to be women and homosexual women are trying to be men. You have to read this to believe it:

“Here’s a simple proof:  Men who were created by God with male body parts are not women, and they lie to themselves, the world, and their commanders when they pretend to be, and act like, women.  Women who were created by God with female parts are not men, and they lie to themselves, the world, and their commanders when they pretend to be, and act like, men.” So in other words if a gay person admits to being gay they are lying about who they are because they are pretending to be the opposite sex.

He then goes on:

“Mullen’s confused argument would permit men to deceptively act like women, and women to deceptively act like men, openly deceiving themselves, the world, and their military commanders, and boldface lying against God’s very truth, that He created men to be men, and women to be women.   But today’s confusing homosexual propaganda equates “honesty” with men openly flaunting their femininity, and “truthfulness” with women openly flaunting masculinity.   Who’s really telling God’s truth?”

Gordon states that: “Admiral Mullen’s confused argument…”  You have got to be kidding.  I don’t know any homosexual men on active duty who deceptively act like women and some of the homosexual men and women who are lesbians would surprise you, manly men and feminine women.  You see Gordon Klingenschmitt attempts to impose his beliefs on others and uses the basest of stereotypes to paint homosexual men as effeminate, when only some are and homosexual women as the classic “dyke” which again pandering to the basest of prejudice which seeks to all lesbians as the crudest stereotype imaginable.  He continues on in this vein for some time and it is not worth regurgitating here.

He then launches his attack loosely paraphrasing Romans One interspersed with his own commentary to buttress his charge that Admiral Mullen lied to Congress and that homosexuals are liars and that we need to help Senator McCain to “fight this open perversion, and protect our troops from open homosexual aggression…”  The attack is disingenuous and dishonorable, but then I would expect nothing less out of a man who has made a career out of defaming others and using bully tactics to attempt to force the Navy to let him do whatever he wants.

He then makes a vicious and yet nonsensical attack at Army Lieutenant Daniel Choi a West Point Graduate.

“CBS news interviewed homosexual Army Lt. Dan Choi, a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point who currently faces discharge for publicly announcing he’s gay.

“I think it’s a very healthy thing for people to be able to tell the truth and to come to terms with who they are. I think it’s a sign of maturity,” Choi said, “At my very first day at West Point, I learned that the honor code says a cadet will not lie, will not tolerate those who lie,” said Choi. “They didn’t say that a cadet who was gay could lie whereas straight cadets didn’t have to lie.”

As a USAF Academy graduate knowing the honor code, I now personally confront Choi as a liar, who now openly violates his honor oath, since he deceives himself and the world, by claiming to be feminine, when God created him masculine, with a male body.  LIAR. Choi should immediately be thrown out of the Army, not merely for sexual perversion, but for DISHONESTY AND LYING.  The only reason he graduated West Point is that he never lied by openly claiming to be feminine while a cadet, when God created him to be masculine.  THIS PROVES DON’T ASK DON’T TELL IS THE MOST HONEST POLICY, because it encourages people with sexual perversions not to openly lie about their sexual identity.  But if DADT is repealed by Congress, men will claim to be women, and women will claim to be men, and the open season of dishonesty and lying will begin.”

Klingenschmitt once again uses the argument that Choi like other homosexuals is a liar because they are honest about their sexual identity.  Whether Klingenschmitt and the Klingenban agree with this or not we live in a free country.  We don’t live in Afghanistan or Iran where guys just like Klingenschmitt, only Moslem versions, preach the same hatred and use their religion as the law of the land.  Klingenschmitt though “Christian” is no different than the Taliban and if people like him were ever to assume control of the country we would discover what fun it is to live in a country where religious fanatics have the power of the gun to enforce their law.  Lieutenant Choi in my view whether one agrees with his sexual preference has demonstrated integrity, honor and devotion to his country and never in his protest against don’t ask, don’t tell slandered his superiors.  However I digress. Klingenschmitt who did not lie about being on a combat tour on USS Anzio his combat record pales in comparison to Choi a Military Academy graduate, son of a Korean Baptist minister, Arabic and Farsi translator and interpreter who served two combat tours as an infantry officer in Iraq before returning to the National Guard was discharged under don’t ask, don’t tell when he revealed his homosexuality.  Since then he has become an advocate for ending don’t ask, don’t tell.  Both are advocates for their cause but Choi has never offered public prayers for the death of his opponents or smeared the reputations of honorable men who were his superiors either before his discharge or after.

Klingenschmitt then recites a litany of reasons of why don’t ask don’t tell should not be ended.  His e-mail makes the following points:

“Four reasons: 1) Allowing open homosexuality especially hurts unit cohesion and would cost American lives in war, damaging the trust shared in close proximity, common sleeping quarters and showering facilities that are unavoidable in close combat.  2) Men and women do not share the same showers for obvious reasons, so why force men to share showers with openly homosexual men?  This fact alone would hurt recruiting.  3) The rampant spread of the HIV-AIDS virus contaminates the blood often shared by necessity on the battlefield.  Soldiers requiring blood-transfusions and medics would be immediately endangered.  4) “Gay promotion quotas” would soon be forced upon presently impartial promotion boards, causing a burdensome rise in sexually-charged “equal opportunity” complaints against commanders, especially those who offend gays by inadvertently speaking of their traditional Judeo-Christian faith.”

First he makes the charge of decreased unit cohesion and trust but most recent polls of military personnel do not bear this out. Yes some will not be comfortable with open homosexuals in the ranks. However as I have said it is about conduct, if the standards of how one conducts themselves toward other service members are enforced uniformly there will be few problems.  Shower facilities are an issue often thrown up by people like Klingenschmitt but there is no actual facts to back it up.  His misuse of AIDs and HIV being blood donors either in combat zones or outside of them is spurious. No one with AIDS or HIV is allowed to donate blood and military personnel regulations which I helped to draft in 1987-88 forbid the deployment of HIV positive people to areas that they cannot be treated or that could endanger their medical condition.  Since HIV and AIDS is not confined to the homosexual population and is not being spread rampantly as Klingenschmitt alleges the argument is a straw man.  Finally the charge that there would be homosexual quotas for promotion is also disingenuous.

Plainly speaking Klingenschmitt has no honor. He is an expert at distortion of the facts, misusing scripture and character assassination. He has since his first days in the Navy sought to enforce his brand of Christianity on his shipmates, peers and superiors. He lodged complaints against every commanding office that he served under and with his accomplices at World Net Daily engaged in every form of malicious conduct imaginable to include clandestine recording of the his superiors informing him of his court-martial charges.  His shipmates from USS Anzio have told me in person and in comments to this site of his intimidation tactics and bullying on that ship.  Following his discharge from the Navy he has engaged in a tactic called “imprecatory prayer” against a number of adversaries, praying for God’s judgment on them and that their days be few, a comment that he says is not a prayer for their early death but in the context of the entire scriptural passage (Psalm 109: 7-11) can only be read as such.

Klingenschmitt also quoted Elaine Donnelly of the “Center for Military Readiness” a right-wing organization that features Phylliss Schafly as a member of its board of advisors, that “it is unconvincing to hold up the small, dissimilar of foreign nations…as models for America’s forces.” Well since 25 nations including our closest allies, Britain, Canada, Australia, Israel, Germany and France as well of most of NATO whose soldiers both straight and gay serve alongside of ours in Afghanistan have allowed homosexuals to serve with little or no disruption in operations or efficiency I wonder what she is getting at.  Maybe its that she feels that American military personnel are less professional than our allies and would not behave professionally if we end don’t ask, don’t tell.  It is curious that I don’t see too many elected Republicans getting on the Klingenban bandwagon…huh… perhaps they know that a large majority of voters would find their support of Klingenschmitt’s crusade unpalatable and might react negatively to them if they oppose the change. 

I have posted a myriad of links to other things that this dangerous man has done here:

http://shamefulchaplain.blogspot.com/

http://pubrecord.org/religion/3355/ex-chaplain-offered-sacrifice-jesus/

http://www.militaryreligiousfreedom.org/press-releases/audio_recordings.html

http://scienceblogs.com/dispatches/2009/04/klingenschmitt_prays_for_death.php

http://blog.au.org/2007/04/05/a-matter-of-honor-the-truth-comes-out-about-former-chaplain-klingenschmitt/

http://undergroundunbeliever.blogspot.com/2009/04/continuing-tale-of-court-martialed-navy.html

http://www.stripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=33868

http://faithfulprogressive.blogspot.com/2009/08/scaring-naive-christians-and-elderly.html

http://www.benedictionblogson.com/2009/04/28/the-imprecatory-prayer-of-gordon-james-klingenschmitt/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/chris-rodda/conspiracy-theorist-milit_b_204948.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/01/09/AR2006010901812.html

http://scienceblogs.com/dispatches/2008/07/the_continued_absurdity_of_gor.php

http://bypi.blogspot.com/

http://hamptonroads.com/node/153451

http://www.britannica.com/bps/additionalcontent/18/25635760/ExChaplains-Boss-Says-Religious-Right-Tales-Inaccurate

http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=389×6708951

http://www.religionnews.com/index.php?/rnstext/does_god_answer_prayers_to_do_someone_ill1/

The list can go on and on, these are but a few reports about Klingenschmitt so here are my own tributes to “Chaps” which are linked below:

https://padresteve.wordpress.com/2009/05/30/gordon-klingenschmitt-and-his-followers-the-klingenfraud-and-the-klingenban/

https://padresteve.wordpress.com/2009/08/08/oh-lord-stuck-in-lodi-again%E2%80%A6-gordon-klingenschmitt-does-lodi/

So with Klingenschmitt in the news it is right that his theological cousins in the Taliban, Iran’s President Ahamadinejad and the Mullahs seek to enforce the same standards of belief on their people as Klingenschmitt and the Klingenban seek to do here. He may be a “D-lister” but he serves an evil purpose and masquerades as a minister of light.  Klingenschmitt’s cause is not the redemption and reconciliation paramount in the Christian Gospel, but rather a twisted and hateful campaign of self promotion as he exalts not Jesus but himself and his political cause which he baptizes with Scripture verses.  This is not Waziristan and the Taliban and Al Qaeda are not in charge. Our founding fathers fought to prevent the United States from becoming a theocracy. While we cherish the role of religion in particular the Judeo-Christian tradition of this country we recognize that this is a pluralistic nation where no religion can impose its views simply because they believe that they are more correct than others and no-one including Gordon Klingenschmitt can issue a Fatwah stating otherwise.

Have fun with the links and spread the news that Gordon Klingenschmitt is coming to town.

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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Filed under faith, Lies of World Net Daily, Military, Political Commentary, Religion, US Navy

I Agree With Admiral Mullen and Secretary Gates on “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”

Note: This is an article that many will not agree with me on.  I know this and write it anyway because I feel it is the right thing to do and also support the highest leaders in my military chain of command in what will be a contentious and acrimonious debate. I know that people on both sides of this issue are sincere in what they believe and if my position is in opposition to others I mean no disrespect. My position comes from 28 plus years in the military in which I have both served with and commanded homosexual soldiers who were stellar individuals and soldiers.  Likewise as a chaplain I have dealt with, served with and cared for homosexual Soldiers, Marines and Sailors who in order to serve were and still are forced to cover up an essential part of their life in order to serve in the military, deploy in harm’s way and risk all to serve our country. While some readers may not agree with me I do hope that people will not simply write off what I have to say because of their passionately held beliefs. I do believe that people can disagree and debate but at the end of the day we are all still Americans.  I dedicate this post to the service of the homosexual men and women with whom I have served and continue to serve among. I pray that they will be able to serve openly without fear of retribution.

I have been in the military 28 plus years having served in the Army, Army National Guard, Army Reserve and the Navy. In my Navy career I have served multiple times with the Marines and also Navy EOD. I have been a platoon leader, company executive officer, company commander, and battalion, brigade and group staff officer.  I have served two tours in combat zones as an advisor to US Navy boarding teams before Operation Iraqi Freedom as well as working with our Marine, Army, Navy and Air Force advisers in Al Anbar Province.  In the course of my career I have served alongside of many homosexual Soldiers, Marines, Airmen and Sailors.  With very few exceptions I found them to be selfless, patriotic, professionals who had to live a lie in order to serve the country that they love.

When Admiral Mullen and Secretary Gates announced their support to end the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” law that in effect says that homosexuals are allowed to serve as long as they lie about who they are I was pleased.  I have known so many professional, patriotic and selfless men and women who as military servicemen and women have had to lie about an essential part of who they are in order to serve that I felt horrible for the fact that they had to hide who they are or face removal from the service.   Even if they served with distinction and rose to the highest ranks as was the case with some and did not cause problems that they could be discharged from the military for either admitting their sexual preference or having someone “turn them in.”  Of course either under “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” was enough end their career and was something that I found to be both cruel and hypocritical.

I was platoon leader, company executive officer, company commander and brigade and battalion staff officer in the Army prior to becoming a Chaplain.  As such I dealt with military justice, military law and personnel policies as well as the management of soldiers diagnosed as HIV positive.  As the Adjutant of the Academy Brigade of the Academy of Health Sciences I worked with commanders and prosecutors the first case where a heterosexual soldier was convicted of intentionally spreading the HIV virus in 1987.  I dealt with the heartbreaking cases of career soldiers who found out that they had tested positive for that virus simply because I was the junior personnel officer in the organization and those senior to me at the schoolhouse did not want to meet these men.  I helped draft with members of the Office of the Surgeon General the Army policy on managing personnel with HIV and AIDS.

In my career I have known many honorable, decent and even yes “Christian” soldiers, sailors and Marines who were homosexual. In fact the vast majority of them were less trouble, less promiscuous and better soldiers, Marines or Sailors than their peers.  Even so they could not then and still cannot openly admit to their sexual preference.  My take is that in this age of where so many people are willing to say “I support the Troops” a yellow ribbon in their yard or decal on their car but unwilling to sign on the dotted line that it is wrong to forbid homosexuals to serve without fear of being discharged for admitting that they are gay for their sexual preference alone.  I feel that a man or woman who wants to serve our country knowing that we are at war and that they will likely be deployed into a combat zone should be allowed to so long as they meet the same standards that every other military member must meet in order to serve.  To me the issue is about conduct and performance and not someone’s sexual preference.  From a professional point of view this comes down to a matter of military personnel exhibiting professional conduct and behavior and not to their sexual preference.  So long as they are not making unwanted sexual advances in the workplace, not using command influence to force people into unwanted sex nor being so promiscuous that their conduct off base jeopardizes compromises them or jeopardizes national security that they should be allowed to serve openly. These are exactly the same standards applied to heterosexuals.  If they violate them then like any other Soldier, Sailor, Marine or Airman they should be disciplined.   I do not believe that various religious groups and political parties or even veterans groups should have veto power over this should the study commissioned by the SECDEF determine that the change will not cause undue disruption in the force or compromise our ability to successfully wage war and the Congress change the law to allow them to serve openly.

Twenty-five other countries including Israel and much of NATO allow openly homosexual men and women to serve and this has not impeded the professionalism of their military. Those countries are: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and Uruguay. Many of the soldiers from these nations currently serve alongside of American forces in Afghanistan and have been in Iraq.  Additionally the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Defense Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency all allow openly homosexual men and women to serve in their ranks.

I liked Admiral Mullen’s blog http://www.jcs.mil/newsarticle.aspx?ID=221 and could not agree more with the Admiral.  I can say that I have served alongside homosexuals since the time that I enlisted. For the most part they have been hard working, honest and decent people who I would have loved to have as a neighbor or friend.  Like any other segment of humanity there have been some that I did not think should be in the military but this was not to their sexual preference but rather their performance and conduct.  Simply put some people regardless of sexual preference do not have what it takes to serve in the military.  If they cannot cut being in the military due to bad physical conditioning, lack of the brainpower needed to function in a high tech military or medical reasons, past criminal conduct or associations with groups opposed to the government, they should not be allowed to serve.  I don’t care if they are heterosexual, homosexual or vegisexual if they meet service criteria to serve they should be allowed to serve. Likewise if someone is willing to endure multiple deployments knowing the reality that they will serve in harm’s way and are willing to do so for King and Country I definitely think that they should be allowed to do so without penalty. I do not see the military seeking to throw out every heterosexual who has committed adultery, have sexual additions of various sorts or who have relationships that if are not outright fraternization are awfully close; all of which violate the Uniform Code of Military Justice.  Thus it puzzles me as to why homosexuals, especially those in a committed and stable relationship should be held to a higher standard than heterosexual who are not.   If the standard is conduct then the rules need to apply equally to all in an equitable manner.

To me as a Christian, Priest and career military officer it seems hypocritical to ask homosexuals to lie about a major part of their lives in order to serve on active duty and then if they do “come out of the closet” to bring them up on charges or discharge them because they seek to be honest about their sexual preference. When one takes a look at some the rather distinguished careers of some of those discharged, men and women who have served bravely in combat and been effective leaders it seems that the policy is flawed. It makes men and women who volunteer to serve the country in time of war to live a lie, in other words make them commit a violation of integrity in order to serve. What if the same standard was applied to other personal beliefs?  Can you imagine the outcry if Christians were told that in order to serve in the military that they could not do anything to acknowledge their faith even off base or in their home? Can you imagine the outcry if someone who is the member of a legal and legitimate political or social group such as those who are part of the pro-life movement or any other religious or moral cause being told that they will be discharged if they acknowledge their beliefs with a bumper sticker supporting their cause?   What “don’t ask don’t tell” tells people that if they want to serve that they cannot be honest about where they are.  Fundamentally is tells them that they should violate personal integrity in order to serve in a manner that is not applied to others who have beliefs or viewpoints that may be controversial or even serve to cause discord in the ranks.  Cases in point are military members who identify themselves as such on Neo-Nazi websites, such behavior and beliefs are certainly more potentially more dangerous to the military than homosexuality.

To be sure “throughout its existence, the United States military has viewed homosexuality as being incompatible with military service. The military identified sodomy as grounds for a dishonorable discharge under the Articles of War adopted in 1776, though it did not identify homosexuality as a “status” until 1942. During the Carter Administration, the “no exception” policy was adopted, officially banning homosexuals from military service.”[i]

“A Navy study, popularly referred to as the Crittenden Report, concluded as early as “1957 that homosexual service members did not pose a greater security risk than heterosexual personnel.” The Secretary of the Navy appointed a board to evaluate the Navy’s policies and procedures governing homosexual service members. No major changes were recommended, in part because of the military’s reluctance to “liberalize standards ahead of the civilian climate.”

The findings did acknowledge that many more homosexuals were likely serving in the Armed Forces than the small number that had been involuntarily discharged. The report noted that “there have been many known instances of individuals who have served honorably and well, despite being exclusively homosexual.”

The board also found no factual data to support the premise that homosexual service members “necessarily” posed a security risk. Research indicated that factors unrelated to sexual orientation constituted security risks and that the type of sexual activity mattered less than the “matter of indiscretion.” “According to the report, intelligence officers sometimes considered heterosexual relations more of a security threat than homosexual conduct.”  See the PDF of the Crittenden report at:

http://www.lonelygods.com/res/crittenden_report.pdf

[ii]

From what I see in the ranks the younger generation of Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen are much more open-minded about homosexuals in the military than my generation and those immediately following mine.  It is doubtlessly true that some would not be comfortable around openly homosexual servicemen and women but it is also true that many of the same service members serve alongside homosexuals presently without conflict or any major issues.  However as both Admiral Mullen and Secretary Gates noted it is best to actually hear from the troops as we look at the issue and be prudent in the way the change is done.  It is far more preferable to let the military examine the issue and come up with a plan than it is to allow special interest groups of any kind and politicians to decide the issue by legislative fiat be it to keep “don’t ask don’t tell” or to allow openly homosexual men and women to serve in the military.  The Israeli experience may actually help the U.S. military in dealing with the issue. In 1993 Israel removed “all restrictions on gay and lesbian soldiers were dropped. Homosexuals in the Israel Defense Forces could join close-knit combat units or serve in sensitive intelligence posts. They were eligible for promotion to the highest ranks. Fourteen years later, Israelis are convinced they made the right decision. “It’s a non-issue,” said David Saranga, a former IDF officer and now Israel’s consul for media and public affairs in New York. “There is not a problem with your sexual tendency. You can be a very good officer, a creative one, a brave one and be gay at the same time.”” [iii]

Attitudes in the ranks have changed since the 1990s like the rest of the country military personnel are now more comfortable with openly homosexual personnel.  A Zogby poll conducted in 2006 noted that “nearly three in four troops (73%) say they are personally comfortable in the presence of gays and lesbians. Of the 20% who said they are uncomfortable around gays and lesbians, only 5% are “very” uncomfortable, while 15% are “somewhat” uncomfortable. Just two percent of troops said knowing that gays are not allowed to serve openly was an important reason in their decision to join the military.” http://www.zogby.com/NEWS/readnews.cfm?ID=1222

Having served for nearly 29 years I think that the numbers in the poll are reflective of the military population.  A CNN-Gallup Poll of 4-6 May 2007 reported that “Seventy-nine percent of poll respondents said openly gay people should be allowed to serve in the military. Eighteen percent said they should not.” http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/06/27/poll.gay/index.html If we indeed are a republic that reflects the views of the people then maybe politicians and special interest groups need to listen to military men and women as well as the country at large.  I have listened to arguments on both sides of the issue and while in 1993 I agreed at “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” was the right way to go I do not agree with some of the arguments used to maintain the present law like people ogling each other in the showers. Since most showers even in combat zones have separate stalls it is a straw man argument which appeals to emotion rather than appealing to fact.  Likewise comments such as those by Oliver North insinuating if gays were allowed to openly serve in the military that: Now, here’s what’s next. NAMBLA members, same-sex marriages. Are chaplains in the U.S. military going to be required to perform those kinds of rituals? Do they get government housing?[iv] North’s comment is simply incendiary especially in regard to the question about chaplains being “required” to perform “these types of rituals” is not rooted in any fact as no chaplain is required to perform rites or sacraments that go against what his or her church or religious body teaches nor their personal beliefs.  To suggest otherwise is simply disingenuous.

An interesting study by a student at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College making the point to change the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” law is found here:

http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=ADA508994&Location=U2&doc=GetTRDoc.pdf

This is a subject that needs to be addressed because it deals with patriot Americans who desire to serve their country in time of war. I pray that the law will be changed and that when the times comes for that change that people will not act in an acrimonious manner but instead be thankful that these men and women are willing to serve when so many are not. I know that some will totally disagree with my reasoning and that I will likely get some flak for this position, but I find the arguments of the Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs to have merit and to be reasonable and should at least be examined in a dispassionate matter by the military before any decision is made by Congress.

Peace,

Steve+


[i] Captain M Suhre, Changing the Department of Defense’s Policy on Homosexuals Marine Corps Command and Staff College 19 February 2008 retrieved from

http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=ADA508994&Location=U2&doc=GetTRDoc.pdf 5 Feb 2010

[ii] The Crittendon Report: Report of the Board Appointed to Prepare and Submit Recommendations to the Secretary of the Navy for the Revision of Policies, Procedures and Directives Dealing with Homosexuals 21 December 1956- 15 March 1957. Retrieved from http://www.lonelygods.com/res/crittenden_report.pdf 5 February 2010

[iii] Martin, Susan Taylor. Israeli experience may sway US Army policy on gays retrieved from http://www.glbtjews.org/article.php3?id_article=361 5 February 2010

[iv] Oliver North on the Sean Hannity Show retrieved at

http February ://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,584942,00.html 5 February 2010

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