Don’t ask, don’t le­git­imize

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - Cal Thomas

Iam sym­pa­thetic to the story told by Joseph Rocha, who claims in a Wash­ing­ton Post opin­ion col­umn that he was dis­charged from the Navy be­cause he is gay, though he says he never told any­one. Mr. Rocha says his male col­leagues con­cluded he was gay when he wouldn’t laugh at their dirty jokes about women or visit pros­ti­tutes with them.

Gay ser­vice mem­bers have a point when they claim a dou­ble stan­dard ex­ists for het­ero­sex­u­als and ho­mo­sex­u­als re­gard­ing sex­ual be­hav­ior. Mr. Rocha also pur­ports cover-ups by high­erups about male sex­ual as­saults on les­bians and the pres­sure he says les­bians feel to keep quiet be­cause by “telling” they could face dis­charge.

But we are beginning in the wrong place. The place to start is whether cit­i­zens of this coun­try, through their elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives and the mil­i­tary leaders named by them, have a right to de­ter- mine what type of ser­vice mem­bers best serve the in­ter­ests, safety and se­cu­rity of the United States. I con­tend we do. The mil­i­tary should not be a test lab. Pres­sure is build­ing to put fe­male sailors on sub­marines, along with gay, les­bian, bi­sex­ual and trans­gen­der peo­ple, pre­sum­ably. That many het­ero­sex­u­als find ho­mo­sex­ual be­hav­ior im­moral and not con­ducive to unit co­he­sion is of no con­cern to the so­cial wreck­ing crew.

What gay ac­tivists ap­par­ently don’t care about is the ef­fect re­shap­ing the mil­i­tary in their im­age would have on our abil­ity to fight and de­fend the coun­try, which, af­ter all, is the pur­pose of a mil­i­tary. If the armed ser­vices were open to all be­hav­iors (as dis­tinct from ori­en­ta­tions), re­cruit­ment might be­come more dif­fi­cult. Some of the ser­vices have strug­gled re­cently to meet their re­cruit­ment goals, though over­all en­list­ment is up be­cause of the econ­omy.

At the Hu­man Rights Cam­paign din­ner Oct. 10 in Wash­ing­ton, Pres­i­dent Obama said, “I will end ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ “ He also pledged to bring an end to the De­fense of Mar­riage Act (DOMA), which was passed by a Repub­li­can Congress and signed by Pres­i­dent Clin­ton. Mr. Obama knows — or should know — that he does not have that power. He took an oath to faith­fully ex­e­cute the laws of the United States.

If Congress wants to re­peal DOMA and change the mil­i­tary’s be­hav­ioral codes, it can do so through new leg­is­la­tion. But that would put Blue Dog Democrats at risk at re-elec­tion time be­cause they serve mostly con­ser­va­tive dis­tricts. They know their po­lit­i­cal ca­reers would be over if they voted in fa­vor of gay mar­riage or for gays in the mil­i­tary.

The gays-in-the-mil­i­tary and gay-mar­riage is­sues are part of a broader at­tempt by lib­er­als to re­struc­ture so­ci­ety. So­cial ac­tivists de­spise bib­li­cal moral­ity (which het­ero­sex­u­als could use a lit­tle more, too), tra­di­tional val­ues that have been proved to work when tried and nu­mer­ous other cul­tural mores. This is not an opin­ion. It also is not a se­cret. The more rad­i­cal ac­tivists have writ­ten and spo­ken openly about their in­ten­tions. Mr. Obama’s lan­guage (whether action fol­lows is an­other mat­ter) gives lip ser­vice to their cause.

Opin­ion polls have shown the pub­lic shift­ing in fa­vor of gays in the mil­i­tary, in­clud­ing a re­cent Gallup poll that found that “Amer­i­cans are 6 per­cent­age points more likely than they were four years ago to fa­vor al­low­ing openly gay men and les­bian women to serve in the mil­i­tary, 69 per­cent to 63 per­cent.” That is mostly be­cause there are few leaders who wish to give voice to op­pos­ing points of view. They fear be­ing shouted down or ac­cused of ho­mo­pho­bia.

We will get more of what we tol­er­ate. Sex­ual be­hav­ior is an im­por­tant cul­tural and moral is­sue. Mr. Obama won the elec­tion with just 52 per­cent of the pop­u­lar vote and a mar­gin of 7 per­cent over Sen. John McCain. This should not be seen as a man­date for him and his ad­min­is­tra­tion to make over Amer­ica in a sec­u­lar and lib­eral im­age. Nei­ther should it be seen as an in­vi­ta­tion to give blan­ket ap­proval to ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity, con­sid­ered by some to be against the best in­ter­ests of the peo­ple who prac­tice it as well as the na­tions that ac­cept it.

Cal Thomas is a na­tion­ally syndicated colum­nist.

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