FIRST-PERSON: Tough questions about the military's gay policy

Baptist Press
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Posted: Jun 01, 2011 5:22 PM
FIRST-PERSON: Tough questions about the military's gay policy
DALLAS (BP)--The United States military is set to open its ranks to out and professed homosexuals. Training sessions are being conducted across the military to try to smooth the way. But this diversity training won't make a dent in the problems stemming from this change, which was made without full consideration of the burdens that will be placed upon our armed forces.

During last year's lame duck session, Congress voted to repeal the 1993 law prohibiting homosexuals from serving in the military. "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was only a policy, a compromise that communicated to homosexuals: "Don't say you're gay. Don't, by your behavior, reveal it, and you'll be fine." But, with the repeal, there will be no need to be discreet. Open homosexuality will be fine.

The language of the repeal requires that, before final implementation, the president, the secretary of defense and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff certify that recruiting, retention and readiness will not be harmed by the transformation. Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness, believes that President Obama aims to sign that certification paper this month. June is "LGBT Equality Month," a good time to fulfill a campaign promise. Then, according to the law passed by Congress, sixty days after certification, full implementation of the repeal is supposed to take place.

But, better late than never, Congress is beginning to dig a little. In April, the House Armed Services Committee held two hearings at which the most-frequently asked question was, "How will the repeal of the 1993 law improve the All-Volunteer Force?" Too often, the response from service chiefs was: "I don't know." These answers expose just how weak the case for repeal of the law prohibiting homosexual service really is.

Isn't it too late to stop this? Almost. But not quite. The issue avoided heavy media scrutiny until the Navy announced it would authorize "same-sex marriages" on military bases in states where it's legal. That caused an outcry. Sixty-three House members signed a letter, composed by Congressman Todd Akin of Missouri, asking the secretary of the Navy how the military is suddenly exempt from federal law, specifically the Defense of Marriage Act. One retired general noted that, since military bases are federal property, DOMA applies to all of them. Plus, he said, different bases cannot have different definitions of marriage. The Navy's suggested policy has been "suspended," for now. But Elaine Donnelly believes that reversal is "temporary and unreliable."

Before Congress passed the repeal of the LGBT law, the Pentagon spent months surveying the troops and military spouses. But the focus of the review was not if the repeal should take place, but how. And the opinions expressed, especially by combat troops, in favor of keeping the 1993 policy, were downplayed.

Near the end of May, Congressman Duncan Hunter of California introduced an amendment to the Defense Authorization Bill. The measure, which passed the House, would give all the service chiefs, who are much closer to the troops, a voice in the certification process. Let's hope this amendment survives the Senate and stops the repeal.

Penna Dexter is a conservative activist and frequent panelist on the "Point of View" syndicated radio program. Her weekly commentaries air on the Bott and Moody Radio Networks.

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