Star Parker

For the first time since the "don't ask, don't tell" law was enacted in 1993 by President Clinton, the House Armed Services Committee has scheduled hearings to review it. The law disqualifies gays from serving in the military.

Individuals are deemed gay, according to this ruling, if they publicly state so. However, the military is prohibited from asking. Thus, "don't ask, don't tell."

Activists are now pushing for change to allow gays to serve openly.

We can anticipate a technical discussion. Does the presence of openly gay soldiers undermine cohesiveness of units, morale, and discipline? How would retention rates of troops or enlistments be affected?

We can be sure, though, that a discussion about the general moral implications of such a policy will not take place.

Early last year, then-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Peter Pace called homosexuality "immoral." More fire and brimstone rained down on him than fell on the residents of Sodom and Gomorra for engaging in this behavior.

Rebukes came from Democrats and Republicans alike. GOP Sen. John Warner, a former chairman of the Senate Armed Services committee, writing his own scripture, challenged Pace's view that homosexuality is immoral.

Although a recent Zobgy poll of military personnel shows more opposed to allowing gays to serve openly than favoring (37 percent to 26 percent), the direction of polling of the general public favors the pro-gay forces.

When "don't ask, don't tell" was enacted in 1993, an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll showed 52 percent opposed to homosexuals serving openly and 43 percent in favor. By 2004, Gallup polling indicated 63 percent in favor of allowing homosexuals to serve against 32 percent opposed.

The culture war is like the recipe for boiling a frog. If you drop it in hot water, it jumps out. But if you drop it in cold water and slowly turn up the heat, you get frog soup.

Concession by concession, traditional values are being pushed, inexorably, to the margins of America.

It's a sign of this moral war of attrition that each battle is fought with less and less attention to what it means to the overall war.

Acceptance of openly gay people in the military means the next discussion will be qualification of gay couples for the same benefits received by traditional military families.

In all likelihood, we'll see claims of discrimination if a gay person gets passed over for promotion and intimidated review committees will become increasingly politically correct.

But, hey, in the morally relative world, a glass half empty for one is half full for the other.

Increasing acceptance of homosexuality is viewed by many as social progress. The Seattle Times, for example, calls for a "modernized" military that accepts the openly gay.

But for this traditionalist, it's no accident that building public acceptance of homosexuality is coincident with a general moral unraveling of our society, with all its destructive consequences.

According to Kevin Hassett of the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank located in Washington, D.C., 32 percent of American households today are nontraditional compared to only 28 percent that are traditional, with a mother, father, and children. The remaining 40 percent are households without children. He points out that children in nontraditional households have considerably higher incidences of emotional and educational problems.

I would argue that most of the major costs dragging down our society today -- whether its poverty, entitlements, health care, or housing -- trace to our diminishing sense of personal responsibility and the erosion of traditional values.

Our first great general, George Washington, would be considered politically incorrect today cautioning against believing "that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle" and admonishing, "virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government."

"Gays in the military" is more than a question of military morale. It's about the character of this country that we have a military to defend.

Who would question what George Washington would say about this important issue?


Star Parker

Star Parker is founder and president of CURE, the Center for Urban Renewal and Education, a 501c3 think tank which explores and promotes market based public policy to fight poverty, as well as author of the newly revised Uncle Sam's Plantation: How Big Government Enslaves America's Poor and What We Can do About It.