Robert Knight

During the week before the dinner, the White House announced that New Zealand would be treated to an openly gay U.S. ambassador. There is no word yet about how New Zealanders expressed their appreciation. Most of the countryside is populated by sheep when not overrun by cinematic Hobbits and evil Orcs. Yes, we know the good wizard Gandalf was played by sometimes-gay-activist Ian McKellen, who told an interviewer that he takes hotel Bibles and rips out pages dealing with same-sex sin. Perhaps he will put in a personal appearance when the ambassador makes the scene down under.

As for President Obama, he appeared to be warming to the Palm Center’s advice when he declared at the HRC dinner that, “I will end Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Not “we,” but “I.” He did not give a timetable. One helpful liberal blogger suggests that Obama might wait until he sees whether his Big Government schemes will cost him a second term, and then do it in the last days. If he’s sitting pretty, surviving political damage from the health care takeover and cap and tax climate bill, he could do it on the first day of his second term without political consequences.

Constitutionally speaking, lifting the ban would take an act of Congress. DADT is already a distortion of Section 654, Title 10 of the U.S. Code -the 1993 Eligibility Law, which says explicitly that anyone with a “propensity” for homosexuality is not eligible. The only legal change in longstanding policy was to remove the induction question, a compromise that friends of the military made to get the bill passed in a Democratic Congress.

Any rash move by the president could deeply affect morale. Elaine Donnelly of the Center for Military Readiness notes, “If President Obama yields to gay activist pressure and unilaterally suspends or stops enforcement of the law, the troops would perceive that action as an evasion of his oath to ‘faithfully execute’ the laws of the United States.”

In Congress, Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Pa.) has taken the lead in sponsoring the fancifully titled “Military Readiness Enhancement Act of 2009” (HR 1283). Originally introduced by California ultra-liberal Democrat Ellen Tauscher, the bill would open the armed forces to every known “sexual orientation” up to and including transsexuality “either real or perceived.” How this would improve “readiness” is anyone’s guess. A major argument is that the military under the current ban is bleeding talent it can ill afford to lose. Really?

Since 1994, less than 1,000 people per year have been discharged on average for homosexuality from all of the armed services combined. This amounts to 3.2 percent or 12,985 out of a total of 289,263 discharges for various reasons, including drugs, serious offenses, weight standards, pregnancy and parenthood. About half of the homosexual discharges are due to voluntary admission. (“I’m gay! I’m out!”)

To add perspective, the U.S. armed forces comprise just over 1.36 million people. If losing less than a thousand folks per year (less than 700 in 2008) for sexual disorders cripples our military, we have bigger problems than we thought.

Since no one has a “right” to serve, and service is based solely on what optimizes military effectiveness, the most compelling argument is anecdotal accounts of homosexuals who served with distinction. Some undoubtedly have. But that raises the question. What would homosexual conduct be like if it were openly accepted, not a violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice?

In 1990, Rep. Gerry Studds (D-Mass.) wrote the foreword to the book My Country, My Right to Serve, which makes the case for homosexuality in the armed services. Funded by taxpayers and written by lesbian Mary Ann Humphrey, the book is based on a survey of 130 volunteers recruited mainly through ads in homosexual publications. Only 42 interviews – 28 men and 14 women – were culled for inclusion. Touted as evidence that homosexuality does not impair service, the stories might render an opposite conclusion; they are rife with fraternization between officers and enlisted personnel, lies, on-duty sex and other things that don’t lend themselves to unit cohesion, morale and discipline.

I once debated on radio a veteran from San Francisco who said that he was gay and served honorably aboard a ship during World War II. I thanked him for his service and asked if he had acted out on his sexual inclinations. He said no, that would have gotten him booted out. “Thank you,” I said. “You just made the case for the policy. You apparently served honorably and effectively precisely because you had to resist temptations that could have been disruptive.”

In addressing the current effort to lift the ban, Congress needs to weigh the overall effect this could have on servicemen and women. A Military Officers Association of America survey ignored by the media shows 68 percent of respondents, including current and former service personnel, support either the current policy or a stronger one.

Open homosexuality would not help in recruiting, either. Many inductees come from the South and other conservative areas. How many moms and dads want to send their son or daughter into forced cohabitation with people who might eye them sexually?

The first casualty of lifting the ban would be the truth. Political correctness would be enforced at the expense of honesty and honor. And what would happen to chaplains who believe in God’s plan for sexuality?

If the Palm Center folks get their way, the chaplains would repent of their faith or be thrown overboard.

Robert Knight

Robert Knight is an author, senior fellow for the American Civil Rights Union and a frequent contributor to Townhall.