Don't ask and don't tell: Homosexuals in the U.S. military

Devin RuicDevin RuicI entirely, wholeheartedly, unequivocally agree with President Barack Obama, and I think I just heard a few people’s heads explode from my apartment.

Sorry to disappoint – but a 2008 Washington Post poll found that 66 percent of so-called conservatives agree with me, too. This makes it tremendously easy to agree with our president’s endorsement of the repeal of the 1993 Clinton-era policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” also known as the inferred prohibition against homosexuals in the American military.

Rather than basing my opinion on personal, biased and anecdotal evidence, I’ll refer to the American Psychological Association (APA), an admittedly better-prepared organization for explaining whether or not homosexuals in the military would psychologically affect the disposition, combat effectiveness or unit cohesion of a military force.

They said, in 1993, that “Empirical evidence fails to show that sexual orientation is germane to any aspect of military effectiveness including unit cohesion, morale, recruitment and retention.”

Where might that empirical data come from, you ask? It comes from the nearly 30 nations that already allow openly homosexual individuals to serve. The APA points out that when “lesbians, gay men and bisexuals are allowed to serve (in military forces, fire departments, and law enforcement departments) openly there is no evidence of disruption or loss of mission effectiveness.”

The countries that allow this are not all traditionally “liberal” nations, either; Israel allows this. When a country that was created to accommodate a religious/ethnic group responsible for the angrier, more-wrathful-God portion of the Bible can pull this off, what are we doing?

Quickly, I’ll accommodate the arguments against repealing the measure I have heard just this week. To wit, I’ve heard that “allowing them to openly serve would ruin unit cohesion… soldiers should be worried about victory, not gays…Now we’ll have to accommodate the gays with different facilities, like showers and bunks…The gays will be in danger of (reprisals) from fellow soldiers.”

Simply put – if absolutely any of this were true on a widespread basis throughout the American military, we would have the least professional, most ignominious state-sponsored fighting force in the free world. By contrast, we are the world’s sole superpower. Taking a page from the late President Reagan, I quote John Winthrop, who said, “We will be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us, so that if we deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken and so cause Him to withdraw His present help from us, we shall be made a story and a byword throughout the world.” Each and every one of our brave men and women serving in the armed forces are diplomats from that city on the hill, representing everything that is good, just, and truly right about our society as a whole. Are we to not trust them to defend each other as brothers and sisters – as they already do day in and day out?

Another ubiquitous phrase I would like to reference is that “there are no atheists in foxholes.” If there is no difference between those with faith during combat and those without, what is the representative difference between men and women of different sexual orientations? Certainly in the face of one of the most dangerous enemies our entire culture has ever faced, far pettier differences in preference can be set aside to make sure that America, and by association, the Free World, does not give in to defeat.

At the beginning of the Iraq War, USAF Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach almost single-handedly destroyed an enemy ambush, releasing his ordnance and guiding a second, malfunctioning plane into an accurate airstrike, all while under anti-aircraft fire. The USAF is now attempting to discharge him after 18 years of service for being gay. If we are to avoid being “made a story and a byword throughout the world” we ought to recognize loyalty, patriotism and heroism without thought or consideration of sexual orientation.

In 1942, a young man named Audie Murphy was laughed out of Marine and Naval recruiting offices for being too short and slight. In 1943, he was accepted in the U.S. Army. Twenty-seven months later, he was the most decorated member of the United States military for World War II, with 32 awards the Medal of Honor.
I guess we’re lucky Audie Murphy wasn’t gay, too.