The Chicago Tribune reports that the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Peter Pace, continues to support the, “‘…don’t ask, don’t tell'” ban on gays serving [openly] in the military because homosexual acts ‘are immoral,’ akin to a member of the armed forces conducting an adulterous affair with the spouse of another service member.
Responding to a question about a Clinton-era policy that is coming under renewed scrutiny amid fears of future U.S. troop shortages Pace said the Pentagon should not “condone” immoral behavior by allowing gay soldiers to serve openly. He said his views were based on his personal “upbringing,” in which he was taught that certain types of conduct are immoral.
‘I believe homosexual acts between two individuals are immoral and that we should not condone immoral acts,’ Pace said in a wide-ranging discussion with Tribune editors and reporters in Chicago. “I do not believe the United States is well served by a policy that says it is OK to be immoral in any way.
‘As an individual, I would not want [acceptance of gay behavior] to be our policy, just like I would not want it to be our policy that if we were to find out that so-and-so was sleeping with somebody else’s wife, that we would just look the other way, which we do not. We prosecute that kind of immoral behavior,’ Pace said.
Writing more than a decade ago (the more things change…), I observed that: After hearing that with the new Republican majority in the United States Congress, Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina would most likely head the Armed Services Committee where the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy was given a difficult and ugly birth, I recalled watching a portion of those hearings on t.v. Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts was testifying before Sam Nunn of Georgia and Strom Thurmond. Nunn and Kerry were debating the probability that if openly gay soldiers were to remain in the military, then the section of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (“Military justice is to justice as Military music is to music.” Georges Clemenceau), dealing with sodomy would have to be revised. At one point, Strom Thurmond–looking like the weathered, ancient, evil, Father of all Beasts that he is–asked
“Senator Kerry I have one and only one question for you. Do homosexuals commit sodomy?” Kerry stammered a bit, saying that some homosexuals probably do commit sodomy but that some heterosexuals commit sodomy, also. “Just answer my question, Senator,” Thurmond shouted. “Do homosexuals commit sodomy?” Kerry stammered again and Thurmond announced that the military was not the place for “…sodomites. There’s only one place for sodomites and that’s in jail,” he said.
The polemic is clear. The lines have been drawn. What surely seems to denude the honor from the gay or lesbian soldier’s service in the minds of the anti-homosexualists is the manner in which those homosexuals make love or have made love or might make love sometime in the future. How absurd this shibboleth should frighten the bejesus out of the brass-plated bastions of what is probably the most masculine institution in this country. But, it does. And, as politically correct as Bill Clinton may have been in proposing an end to the ban, it is unfortunate that his motivation was political correctness rather than heartfelt commitment. There is a difference.
It was, I suppose, quite enough for Bill Clinton–of all people!–to have been the drum major for ending the ban on gays in the military. Drum majors strut. And, they’re supposed to strut at the head of the band until the parade is over. What seems to have occurred, however, is that our drum major crapped out at the point it was clear the band was not playing the kind of music the crowd wanted to hear.
There is something desperately wrong with the American military’s obsessive paranoia with regard to the homosexuals amongst them. Randy Shilt’s study of homosexuals in the American military (and the categorical dispossession of the military careers of those homosexuals), Conduct Unbecoming, is not read so much as something factual but as something you can’t quite believe; something like standing upon the autumn grass at Gettysburg and not quite believing that seven-thousand men once lay dead and forty-thousand lay wounded upon the gentle slopes of those quiet Pennsylvania hills. Did this horror really happen here? Did our country really do this to itself? And, now, have the lives of so many good and decent young men and women really been run through that despicable gauntlet described by Shilts? And–Shilts makes the point several times–how really committed are the gay liberationists to the best interests of gays in the military, rather than what the gay liberationists believe is in their best interests?
I served honorably in the United States Army. I was a soldier. Not a gay soldier or a white soldier or a Colorado soldier. Just a soldier. Period. That was, after-all, why I was there. But, that was only for two years. What about the career soldier who happens to be gay or lesbian? What about them? Does being a soldier necessarily preclude that that soldier may also be a human being? No, for heterosexual soldiers it doesn’t. But, what about us? What about the gay or lesbian soldier who is willing–and has and will continue–to die for their country? What about them, Strom?
Like I said, the more things change…