I do not know how focused the typical American is on the subject of homosexuals openly serving in the military. Or, for that matter, how focused they are on anything to do with homosexuals. Those who are engaged in arguing the open service issue one way or the other mostly miss the target. Arguments are more emotional than critical as is too often the case nowadays. Each side antagonizes the other and both miss the critical issues that are at stake. We do seem to spend a lot of our time arguing points of view that can never be reconciled
Proponents of the civil rights argument insist that homosexual service is equivalent to the integration of blacks and women in the services. You can hang your hat on that side of the argument or you can insist that homosexuality is a preference, a lifestyle choice, unlike being born black or being born a woman. Either way, the two sides can never come together. There are not enough planks in the bridge to connect the opposite sides of that argument.
Then there is the argument contending that those who oppose open homosexual service are merely bigoted homophobes – typically described as fundamental religious zealots. As such, they are accused of hiding behind self-righteous religious or moral beliefs. This is another discussion headed down the road to nowhere. The reason is that someone who does oppose homosexual behavior based on deeply held religious or moral beliefs will not change their worldview – if indeed those beliefs are deeply held. Someone with the opposing view cannot venture across that abyss either because to do so would require that they accept the premise that a person might actually be guided by his religious or moral beliefs rather than simply hiding behind a façade to camouflage his homophobia. They will never concede that. Some beliefs, whatever they might be, guide us all. Do they not?
In the military the arguments heard are about good order and discipline, unit cohesion, co-habitation issues, dependency issues for partners, etc. and added to that the individual held beliefs either for or against. Even where the impact will be felt across all aspects of the organization no one appears critically focused on the salient issues. They should be because repealing the law will have a much greater reach than only permitting open homosexual service.
Open homosexual service is not about service just as homosexual marriage is not about marriage. It is about whether or not American society is ready to accept homosexuality as normal and therefore make homosexuals a protected minority class. The military and marriage are institutions that stand between acceptance and rejection of homosexual behavior as normal. For homosexuality to be generally accepted, these two institutions must be dismantled. They must accept homosexuality as normal.
Most people, I will wager, have not read and contemplated the law, Pub. L. No. 103-160, § 546, 107 Stat. 1670 (1993) (codified at 10 U.S.C. A. § 654 (West Supp. 1995)). It will only take you minutes to read through it. Maybe it will add some perspective to your view, maybe it will not.
Before you engage someone about how well or how poorly openly serving homosexuals will do in the military or whether the impact might be positive or adverse, consider some other things.
The law points out that the “Constitution of the United States commits exclusively to the Congress the powers to raise and support armies, provide and maintain a Navy, and make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces.” Do we want to forfeit that power to unelected judges? Do we want to give away this or any other legislative power to a judge? More importantly, does Congress hope to become even more irrelevant than it has been for the past several years?
The law also points at that “there is no constitutional right to serve in the armed forces.” Will repealing this law establish a constitutional right for anyone to serve? Obviously it will. It will because repealing the law is to conclude that it is also not constitutionally within “the discretion of the Congress to establish qualifications for and conditions of service in the armed forces.”
Decide for yourself what is truly at stake.