Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Dishonesty, and Dishonor

Top US General Calls Homosexuality Immoral

By Al Pessin
13 March 2007

The top U.S. military officer has said homosexuality is immoral, sparking renewed controversy about the status of homosexuals in the U.S. military. VOA's Al Pessin reports from the Pentagon.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Peter Pace, told the Chicago Tribune newspaper the military ban on homosexuals should continue, because homosexuality is immoral. The newspaper posted audio from the interview on its Web site.

PACE: "I believe that homosexual acts between individuals are immoral, and that we should not condone immoral acts."

General Pace told the Tribune that to officially allow homosexuals to serve in the military would be an endorsement of immoral activity. He said the military should not endorse any immoral acts, mentioning specifically homosexuality and extra-marital affairs, which are also against military regulations. General Pace endorsed the current policy, under which homosexuals serve by keeping their sexual orientation a secret.
Okay now, first off, I'm saying this as a man who is both Catholic, and a veteran; Don't Ask Don't Tell is offensive, insulting to all men and women who wear the uniform, gay or straight, and it should be ended one way or another.

The military is no place for mealy mouthing and careful parsing of statements for political correctness... or rather it shouldn't be, but all too often it is.

Whatever you think of homosexuality, you can't deny that DADT is a moral, social, and disciplinary disgrace of epic proportions.

Now, again as both a Catholic and a veteran, the idea that someone should be banned from serving their country because a general believes their private sexual behavior is immoral, is ludicrous. If his morality is coming from his Christianity he should know he is in no position to judge, that's Gods job.

We ban adultery in the military, not because it is immoral, but because it is dishonorable. It is the betrayal of a sacred oath, and if a man will betray his marriage vows, might he not betray his service oath as well?

There is nothing inherently dishonorable about homosexuality; but we force gay men and women into being dishonorable, ever day that they serve in silence.

Hell, I'm willing to bet MY private sexual behavior would GREATLY disturb Gen. Pace as well; and I'm a happily married man with two kids, who honorably served my country.

The fact of the matter is, there are thousands upon thousands of gay men and women serving honorably in the armed forces today; there always have been and there always will be. To tacitly accept their honorable service, and then insist that they dishonor themselves by being closeted is a shameful stain on OUR honor, as service members, as veterans, and as a nation.

Freedom of conscience is among our highest freedoms, and forced denial of self is an abuse of that freedom.

Hell, I knew for a fact that I was serving with gay service members; and was friends with several serving gays and lesbians who were quite candid about their sexual orientation, with friends only. It didn't effect their job, and it didn't make them poor service members; but it very definitely effected their souls.

It made me ashamed to have to accept this policy. IT IS WRONG.

Now, as to whether gays SHOULD be allowed to openly serve, I am of mixed mind on that.

The priary official concern, and logic behind the offical ban, is that gays serving with straights will result in inapprorpiate sexual behavior.

To my mind, so long as we set and enforce appropriate standards of behavior and discipline, and severely punish anyone who does not abide by those standards, be they gay or straight, I don't care who my buddy wants to have sex with (even if it's me).

Implicit in the banning of gays, while we allow men and women to serve together; is the assumption that gay men, and lesbian women will be less able to control themselves around other service members they are attracted to than straight service members. I find this implied assertion to be quite offensive; and disrespectful to ALL service members not just gays and lesbians.

The fact of the matter is, the rules say keep it in your pants (or if you don’t for gods sakes don't let it screw up the job). If we can expect straight folks to do it, we can expect gay folks to do it.

I'm not saying there aren't issues here. There will always be elements of anti-gay sentiment in the military; especially in the hypermasculine culture that pervades most of the military (and I don't necessarily think that culture is inappropriate much of the time); but so what, there are idiots currently serving who also hate women, Muslims, Jews, Hispanics, Blacks, Arabs, and every other identity group out there (note the caps).

Then there's the people who say "What about AIDS and other STDs that homosexuals are at higher risk for? In the barracks environment, in training, and in combat, there is a lot of close contact, potentially with with bodily fluids, as well as transfusions and the like".

Well, yes that's true, but the fact is that every service member can be required to have an AIDS test every six months, and probably SHOULD be, straight or gay. As I was getting out I beleive they were instituting regular screening for many STDs, and they have been testing for Gonorrhea, Syphillis, and Hpeatitis with every physical, for as long as such test have existed.

Hell, you can’t even say that gay men are at a much greater risk here, because soldiers, sailors, and airmen as a class, are about the most promiscuous people on the planet (I know, I was one of them), as well as frequent patrons of prostitutes, who are the highest risk group for sexually transmitted diseases by far.

After over a decade of exclusion, we now allow gay men with clear AIDs tests to give blood in the civvy world (presuming they don't have other risk factors like a high number of partners etc...); and we require a standard of behavior in or service members higher than society requires for gay men as a whole, so I reject this argument as speciaous.

All that said, I think this whole thing is one gigantic social mess. Hell, we’ve screwed up the military trying to integrate women, and still haven't managed to do so successfully for over 60 years of trying (since the inception of the Womens Army Corps nurses serving near the front in WW2).

And I'm not saying women shouldn't be allowed to serve either. I’m of the opinion that anyone who can meet the standards of a combat soldier should be allowed to serve in combat. That those standards be the same for all genders, sexual preferences, races, creeds or any other thing. Everybody has to pass the same test no matter what, and that test is predicated on what makes a good soldier, not what the average of the lowest performing group can pass (which is how womens PFT standards were developed by the by).

My point is however, that even given the position of women in our society, as the now dominant cultural force (and if you don’t think that’s true, you haven't watched much network TV or been on a universtiy campus recently - lucky you); we STILL can’t get integrating them into our military forces right. Integrating open homosexuality is a lot more controversial and difficult socially than women.

Then there's the fact that the service environment engenders a lot of very unguarded and intimate social contact, with communal quarters, showers etc... Some raise the entirely valid point that you wouldn't force a woman to shower with a man, nor should you force straight men to shower with gay men who might have sexual interest in them

I don't agree with that point in it's entirety, but I do see the issue; and I don't think the solution is separate accommodation for gay and straight (That would be just ridiculous, and nearly impossible to do in a combat zone anyway). Hell, I don't even think we should have separate accommodation for men and women out in the field. If women want to play with the boys they should shower with the boys... but that's neither here nor their.

The armed forces are not the place for social experimentation, and forcing such a change in the middle of a war is beyond stupidity.

My thought is that “don't ask don't tell” is insulting and shameful to all concerned; that anyone currently serving who is gay should be allowed to come out of the closet should they choose to do so, but we should avoid at all costs treating gays as a protected class etc… etc…

I just don't know how to do it.

Honestly, I don’t think we can do it right now. I don’t think it’s far off, but I don’t think it’s this year, or next year.


WASHINGTON — Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, expressed mild regret Tuesday for voicing his belief that homosexual acts are “immoral,” but he stopped short of an apology as gay rights groups and a powerful Republican senator rebuked the general for the comments he made to the Chicago Tribune.

As critics fired rhetorical volleys, Pace issued a statement expressing regret that he had put so much stress on the morality issue when he defended the Pentagon’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” ban on gays serving openly in the military during a Monday interview with the Tribune’s editorial board.

“In expressing my support for the current policy, I also offered some personal opinions about moral conduct,” Pace said in his statement. “I should have focused more on my support of the policy and less on my personal moral views.”

Well, although I disagree with him, Ill say I respect the man all the more for saying this, in this way. He didn’t cave to pressure to apologize for his personal views; but he acknowledged that it was entirely inappropriate for him to have expressed his personal views in the context of military policy.