“Skin color is a benign, nonbehavioral characteristic. Sexual orientation is perhaps the most profound of human behavioral characteristics. Comparison of the two is a convenient but invalid argument.” — Colin Powell, 1993
Sorry, I don’t believe it’s as simple as imposing compassion and human rights. Sounds nice. But the real reason some politicians are supporting a lifting of the ban on gays in the military, and doing away with “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” is about power. It’s about building voting blocks to gain, or retain power. Voting gays make up a huge constituency.
Let’s cut to the chase.
The best reason to retain “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” as the current policy for gays in the military can be summed up in one sentence: Straight guys don’t want to take showers with gay guys, knowing they are gay. Simple as that.
Regardless of political or social dogma, there are definite physical and psychological aspects to this issue that cannot be ignored.
It doesn’t mean that straight men are gay haters or homophobes. It simply means, they don’t want to be in any intimate arrangement — especially naked — around young men who are naturally attracted within a same-sex setting.
Most of us would agree that homosexuals can shoot guns and perform wartime functions as well as anyone. Undoubtedly, there have been silent heros among them. But when young men enter the military service, it’s not about guns, planes and radar. It’s boot camp. It’s field training. It’s adjusting to a completely new way of life. That involves close sleeping quarters, bathrooms and showers…daily and nightly.
When straight men know their roommates are also straight, the adjustment to new living arrangements is easy. Sexual connotation doesn’t come into play when straights are among straights. The scenario takes on a whole new dimension when they are aware that a gay man is in the shower — or the bedroom – with them.
Women have become a valuable asset to military service in modern-day America. While they share much of the same training and perform like functions, personal living arrangements remain separate from men for obvious reasons. It’s about sexuality. Sexual differences invites sexual proclivities, which is why the military maintains a barrier between men and women. That’s just common sense. The same issue comes into play mixing gays and straights in bare naked settings.
Of course, modern day bureaucrats, politicians and some military elite are bending to pressures of political correctness to make a change in policy. But I seriously doubt that many of their public statements mirror those that are expressed in private.
Both the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars (which includes four million vets) have come out strongly against overturning the ban.
More than 1,000 retired admirals and generals have expressed opposition to the change, saying that overturning the ban would undermine recruiting and retention, impact leadership at all levels, have adverse effects on the willingness of parents who lend their sons and daughter to military service and eventually will impact the All-Volunteer Force.
Open acceptance of gays in the military will open the floodgates for complaints of discrimination that do not now exist. Drill instructors will have to watch their P’s and Q’s before shouting at or admonishing a recruit who happens to be gay, lest he be brought up for charges of anti-gay discrimination. It could change the whole approach to basic training…not for the better.
Instead of asking generals, admirals and special interest groups their points of view, pollsters should be talking to the rank-in-file, the privates and sergeants who have to deal with every day life in lower military ranks.
My 24-year-old grandson was recently discharged after four years in the U.S. Air Force. He has very open views and many friends in the gay community. But he also agreed with the premise that sharing intimate environments knowing that gay men were present, would be extremely uncomfortable.
Senator John McCain is a national military hero who comes from a military family. He recommends leaving the policy just as it is. “It’s working,” he said.
Why fix something that is not broken?
Retired Air Force combat pilot, Keith Hutcheson, recently wrote in USA Today, “I should not have to worry about room assignments, who’s bunking with whom, who is offended by the gay soldier or airman, or whether he’s angry because no one will talk to him. I am a father to my daughter, not to men in combat.”
This isn’t a matter of discriminating against gays because of bigotry or homophobia. It’s a matter of maintaining order, good discipline and a separation of sexual orientation that can make life very uncomfortable for a lot of people who should have other things on their minds.
It’s a touchy issue that’s not going to satisfy everyone.