“Starting this year, no American will be forbidden from serving the country they love because of who they love,” declared the President in his January 25 address to Congress and the nation. “It is time to leave behind the divisive battles of the past. It is time to move forward as one nation.”
Homosexual activists have been impatient for the Pentagon to unveil its plan to implement the change, which Congress passed and the President signed in December 2010. But even while the President was promising that homosexuals would be serving in all service branches by the end of 2011, Pentagon officials said that they could not guarantee full implementation this year.
General James Cartwright, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters that while completing the training of all service branches was a “good goal,” he added that “we have to allow for the fact that we may discover something between now and then” making full transition in that time frame impossible.
While Cartwright and Clifford Stanley, Undersecretary of Defense for personnel, were unable to articulate the training process that would insure homosexuals an atmosphere free of discrimination against them, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates emphasized that a guiding principle of the process would be that “all personnel will be treated with respect,” adding that “harassment or unlawful discrimination of any member of the armed forces for any reason will not be tolerated.”
Pentagon officials explained that the plan will outline three levels of training for troops, commanders, administrators, recruiters, and other superiors who will be charged with making sure homosexuals feel welcome among the general troop population. Training will include multi-media presentations depicting potential hot-button situations, along with explanations of how superiors would be expected to handle them.
Included in the training regimen will be guidelines for how the partners of homosexual soldiers must be treated and how housing for same sex-partners, health insurance, and other benefits will be handled.
But officials warned that because units are constantly cycling in and out of deployment all over the world, and because National Guard and Reserve units meet only monthly, it will be difficult to complete the sensitivity training in the expected time frame, ensuring that all personnel comply with guidelines designed to keep homosexual soldiers from feeling awkward and uncomfortable.
Homosexual activists emphasized the need for a quick transition in moving “gays” and lesbians into the troop population. “For years experts have said that a swift repeal process, accompanied by strong leadership, is the best way to repeal ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’” said Aaron Belkin of the Palm Center, a group that promotes homosexuals in the military. He applauded President Obama’s leadership and commitment “to the path that has been proven to be best not only for gay service members, but for all of those who currently serve.”
The Pentagon explained that once the anti-discrimination training is completed, President Obama and his military advisers will have to certify that the change will not deter the military from its mission of defending the nation. Following that certification, full implementation of homosexuals in the military would take effect.
The pro-homosexual Servicemembers Legal Defense Network insisted that Pentagon and DOD officials quickly push through the certification that homosexuals in the military won’t damage the effectiveness of the nation’s fighting force. “We think there should be certification from the president, [Defense] Secretary Robert Gates, and [Joint Chiefs of Staff] Chairman Michael Mullen in this quarter,” the group declared in a press release. “We need to make ‘Don’t Ask’ repeal a reality sooner rather than later.”
One of the main voices being raised over the negative impact of allowing homosexuals to serve openly has been the Family Research Council (FRC). The group has noted the obvious compromise in unit cohesion that comes when normal soldiers naturally object to living in close quarters with men who may be attracted to them.
In addition, FRC has pointed out the disproportionate numbers of sexual assaults in the military that are homosexual in nature. While homosexuals make up less than three percent of the U.S. population, according to an FRC study over eight percent of the sexual assaults reported in the military from October 2008 through September 2009 were homosexual in nature. Those statistics suggest that “homosexuals in the military are about three times more likely to commit sexual assaults than heterosexuals are, relative to their numbers,” noted a report on the study.
Added the FRC report, “Advocates of open homosexuality in the military often lament the fact that several thousand members of the military have been discharged under the 1993 law since its enactment. However, what they fail to note is that many of those discharges are actually for sexual assaults.”
The FRC’s Tony Perkins emphasized that America’s military exists for the sole purpose of fighting and winning conflicts against America’s enemies. “Yet it has now been hijacked and turned into a tool for imposing on the country a radical social agenda,” he said as Congress repealed the military’s homosexual ban last December. “This may advance the cause of reshaping social attitudes regarding human sexuality, but it will only do harm to the military’s ability to fulfill its mission.”
Photo: Gen. James Cartwright