In a statement made to the Chicago Tribune, The Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, General Pace (USMC) criticised homosexuals, and supported the military’s policy of “Don’t ask don’t tell”, by saying homosexual acts are immoral. He later responded to criticism by saying, and their lifestyle by saying, “I also offered some personal opinions about moral conduct. I should have focused more on my support of the policy and less on my personal moral views.” Certainly, the news and the blogosphere have been active in giving their opinion about this issue and the statement.
Pace’s comments do show the antipathy that many in the US Military have about homosexuals actively serving while being transparent in their lifestyle. Of course this is part of the current policy. However, to link it to a question of morality was foolish, as the policy is based on maintaining unit cohesion and other factors. This has also become a political issue as all the leading Democratic candidates have called for the repealing of this policy introduced during the Clinton Presidency. Critics of the policy have said that in many specialty fields qualified people who are homosexual may be overexagerated as nine linguist specialist have been removed from the service, not the number reported by activists, 83.
The question of openly homosexuality within the military lifestyle may be valid and it may be blown out of proportion. Many would correctly point to the success of intergration of minorities and women and say this is similar. However, a fair counter is that behaviors are not equivalent to racial and gender issues. To claim that morality or sexual choice is a basis to being able to be an effective soldier is a bit of a stretch as history would clearly point to this fallacy. On the other hand, the concerns about unit cohesion and effectiveness need to be considered.
This will certainly add fuel to the fire in the discussion of gay rights, and will likely further polarized positions in the general public. Quite likely the attention that both sides are playing to this issue is making this an issue. Is the dog wagging the tail, or the tail wagging the dog. One thing is certain, General Pace’s comments were unfortunate, and may in the long run do more for destruction of “Don’t ask don’t tell”.