Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, made a startling statement in congressional testimony last week. When asked if allowing open homosexuals into the U.S. military would lead to a mass exodus of troops from active service, he boldly declared that they can “find another place to work.”
Such a cavalier response to a U.S. senator’s serious inquiry may play well in the press and in the current commander-in-chief’s office, but it illuminates a deeply misguided commitment to political correctness and foreshadows serious adverse consequences for our national security. If tens of thousands of troops now serving in the finest military force the world has ever known vote with their feet in the midst of a war, we’re all in deep trouble.
At issue is a pending vote in the Senate on repealing Section 654 of Title X of the U.S. Code. This law, on the books since 1993, states: “The presence in the armed forces of persons who demonstrate a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts would create an unacceptable risk to the high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion that are the essence of military capability.”
President Obama describes this “ban on gays” as “unfair” and has vowed, as he put it, to “end ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell.’” Though nothing has happened in the last 17 years to mitigate the “unacceptable risk” to our military, he is supported in this quest to fulfill a campaign promise by Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the Joint Chiefs chairman, Admiral Mullen. The House of Representatives has already voted to repeal Section 654. Now it’s the Senate’s turn to consider the question.
For the record, the phrase “don’t ask, don’t tell” appears nowhere in the actual law. It’s simply a policy adopted by the Clinton administration as a way of avoiding a confrontation with Congress — and a public-relations disaster with the far-left wing of the American body politic. Repeal by the present lame-duck Congress would overturn not just the informal “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, but the statutory prohibition on open homosexual men and lesbians in the ranks.
According to Messrs. Obama, Gates, and Mullen — and “GLBT [gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered] rights” activists — the Report of the Comprehensive Review Working Group, released by the Pentagon on November 30, finds that there is “low risk” to unit cohesion and military readiness in immediately repealing the law. But a careful reading of the report suggests otherwise.
The authors acknowledge that 67 percent of all Marines, more than 60 percent of special-operations personnel, and 57 percent of soldiers in Army combat units believe changing the law would hurt military efficiency, unit cohesion, readiness, and retention. Overall, 35 percent of service members deployed overseas said that changing the law in current circumstances would have a negative impact on combat effectiveness. And, perhaps most telling, nearly one-third of all those who are now part of the best-educated, best-trained, and most-combat-experienced military in history will consider “getting out” rather than serve side by side with openly homosexual men or lesbians.