Mil­i­tary warned not to ha­rass open ho­mo­sex­u­als

The Washington Times Weekly - - Geopolitics - BY ROWAN SCAR­BOR­OUGH

The na­tion’s high­est mil­i­tary lead­ers on Sept. 20 warned troops not to ha­rass ho­mo­sex­u­als who emerge from the closet as the ban on com­ing out of­fi­cially ended.

But they also said the U.S. armed forces can­not legally ex­tend the ben­e­fits of straight cou­ples to ho­mo­sex­ual part­ners, as ho­mo­sex­ual rights groups de­mand.

“With re­gards to the pos­si­bil­ity of ha­rass­ment, look, we have a zero tol­er­ance with re­gards to ha­rass­ment,” De­fense Sec­re­tary Leon E. Panetta told re­porters as he cel­e­brated what he called the “his­toric day.”

“My hope is that the com­mand struc­ture op­er­at­ing with the stan­dard dis­ci­plines that are in place will im­ple­ment those dis­ci­plines and will en­sure that ha­rass­ment doesn’t take place and that all be­hav­ior is con­sis­tent with the dis­ci­pline and the best in­ter­ests of our mil­i­tary,” Mr. Panetta said.

Var­i­ous ho­mo­sex­ual ad­vo­cacy groups have de­manded the right to marry while in the mil­i­tary. They also want spousal ben­e­fits.

But Adm. Mike Mullen, in his last press con­fer­ence as chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the De­fense of Mar­riage Act (DOMA) pre­vents that from hap­pen­ing.

The law, which was signed by Pres­i­dent Clin­ton and which the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion has stopped de­fend­ing in court, de­fines mar­riage as the union of one man and one wo­man.

“I mean, we fol­low the law here,” Adm. Mullen said when asked about hous­ing and health ben­e­fits for the part­ners of ho­mo­sex­ual troops. “DOMA, that law re­stricts some of the is­sues that you talk about. And we’re go­ing to fol­low that law as long as it ex­ists.”

In a boost to the ho­mo­sex­ual rights move­ment, Adm. Mullen force­fully en­dorsed the re­peal of the ban in tes­ti­mony be­fore Congress last year. He was the only Joint Chiefs of Staff mem­ber to do so at that time.

Adm. Mullen re­tires this month, and will be suc­ceeded as chair­man by Army Gen. Martin Dempsey.

Former De­fense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates put in a place a me­thod­i­cal ap­proach to end the ban on Sept. 20, eight months af­ter Pres­i­dent Obama signed re­peal leg­is­la­tion.

First, roughly 2.3 mil­lion ac­tive and reser ve forces re­ceived in­doc­tri­na­tion on end­ing “don’t ask, don’t tell,” as the ban was called, and guid­ance on what to do in cer­tain sit­u­a­tions, such as see­ing two male ser­vice mem­bers kiss­ing.

Then the Pen­tagon cer­ti­fied that open ho­mo­sex­u­als would not harm com­bat readi­ness, a prom­ise that some pro-mil­i­tary groups dis­pute.

“The Amer­i­can mil­i­tary ex­ists for only one pur­pose, to fight and win wars,” said Tony Perkins, pres­i­dent of the Fam­ily Re­search Coun­cil. “Yet [Sept. 20], the U.S. mil­i­tary be­comes a tool in re­shap­ing so­cial at­ti­tudes re­gard­ing hu­man sex­u­al­ity. Us­ing the mil­i­tary to ad­vance a lib­eral so­cial agenda will only do harm to the mil­i­tary’s abil­ity to ful­fill its mis­sion.”

Mr. Panetta said that will not hap­pen.

“As of 12:01 a.m. this morn­ing, we have the re­peal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ pur­suant to the law that was passed by the Congress last De­cem­ber,” Mr. Panetta said. “Thanks to this change, I be­lieve we move closer to achiev- ing the goal at the foun­da­tion of the val­ues that Amer­ica’s all about — equal­ity, equal op­por­tu­nity and dig­nity for all Amer­i­cans.”

While the Pen­tagon took a rel­a­tively low-key tone, the Ser­vice­mem­bers Le­gal De­fense Net­work (SLDN), which led the re­peal cam­paign, an­nounced a se­ries of cel­e­bra­tory par­ties in all 50 states.

“To­day marks the of­fi­cial end of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ and is an his­toric mile­stone along the jour­ney to achiev­ing LGBT [les­bian, gay bi­sex­ual, trans­gen­der] equal­ity in Amer­ica’s mil­i­tary,” said the group’s di­rec­tor, Aubrey Sarvis.

”Thanks to vet­er­ans, ac­tive duty, lead­ers, al­lies and sup­port­ers ev­ery­where, this is a mon­u­men­tal day for our ser­vice mem­bers and our na­tion. In­deed, we have taken a tremen­dous leap for­ward for LGBT equal­ity in the mil­i­tary.”

J.D. Smith, an alias for a Air Force of­fi­cer who founded Out­serve mag­a­zine for ho­mo­sex­ual mil­i­tary peo­ple, came out of the closet. He is 25-year-old 1st Lt. Josh Seefried, who told the New York Times that he now can take his boyfriend to par­ties.

Gary Ross, a Navy lieu­tenant, chose the stroke of mid­night to marry his civil­ian part­ner, Dan Swezy, in Ver­mont, which al­lows such unions.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

De­fense Sec­re­tary Leon E. Panetta and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair­man Adm. Mike Mullen con­fer while brief­ing the news me­dia on the end of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” pol­icy. Mr. Panetta said re­peal­ing the ban on openly ho­mo­sex­ual mil­i­tar y ser vice was a “his­toric day.”

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