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Very often political institutions reflect the will of society and set the
precedent for norms that will be expected of its members. The United States
Military is still enforcing archaic policies which threaten to harm the
principles our nation was founded upon. The principles of freedom and equality
are those that every American holds closest to their heart, that is unless you
are in the military and are gay. The issue of gays in the military has developed
into a case of whether our country should discriminate against a group merely
because of involuntary sexual orientation. Two persistent principles are evident
within this topic: that homosexuals are ever present throughout all branches of
the military and a persistent hostility against this group is in American
society and the military. In order to effectively examine this topic the
following concepts will be discussed: an analysis of the current Department Of
Defense policy concerning gays, solutions to reduce homophobia in the military,
a policy model concerning homosexuals in the military ( Lepicer 1-14 ).
Prior to the arrival of the Clinton Administration with its agenda to
radically revise military policy regarding the acceptance and treatment of
homosexuals, Department of Defense policy was well established and clear. Legal
questions began to be raised in civilian courts challenging the military
exclusion and discharge policies in the 1960’s and 1970’s. The services were
forced to explain and clearly justify specific limits and procedures used in
relation to service members claiming to be homosexual or convicted of such
behavior. During the Carter Administration a clear policy was signed into law.
It reads:
Homosexuality is incompatible with military service. The presence
in the military environment of persons who engage in homosexual
conduct or who, by their statements, demonstrate a propensity to
engage in such conduct, seriously impairs the accomplishment of
the military mission. The presence of such members adversely
affects the ability of the Military Services to maintain discipline,
good order, and morale: to foster mutual trust and confidence
among service members; to ensure the integrity of the system of
rank and command; to facilitate assignment and worldwide deployment
of service members who frequently must live and work under close
conditions affording minimal privacy; to recruit and retain members
of the Military Services: to maintain the public acceptability of
military service; and to prevent breaches of security ( Lepicer ).
Everyone agrees that gays were already in the military, but gays want to
serve their country out of the closet. This concept pitted the gay community
against the traditionalists who want to keep them out. The result is a
compromising “Don’t ask / Don’t Tell” policy which prevents recruiters from
inquiring about an enlistees sexual preference. The purpose of the military is
to kill people and complete the mission at hand. Therefore anything that hinders
the military from fulfilling this role is a potential threat to national
security and must be looked at in an objective manner. The military’s attitude
towards homosexuals dates back to the Revolutionary War when General George
Washington approved the discharge and court martial of an officer for attempted
sodomy. Every year more than 800 service members are separated from the military
based on sexual orientation. The Department Of Defense current policy is both
discriminatory and ineffective. Homosexuals should have the right to serve their
country as long as their job performance is not affected by their private life.
Currently the military does not actively seek out and prosecute heterosexual
service members who engage in sodomy but they will go to great lenghts to
investigate mere claims of homosexual conduct. Often history repeats itself and
the integration of African Americans into the military was one which met great
opposition but is now an accepted principle. We as a country can see the
foolishness and downright prejudice that was involved in the opposition of
integration of minorities into our military, one which in 20 years we may
equate with the current arguments involving gays in the military ( Wornsop 195-
212 , Schlueter 393-432).