- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 16, 1999

Defense Secretary William S. Cohen said yesterday the Clinton administration has no plans to lift the military’s ban on open homosexuals despite the decision this week to order a new review.
Mr. Cohen’s statement came as a survey of Republican presidential candidates by the Center for Military Readiness shows that most support the prohibition.
Texas Gov. George W. Bush, the Republican presidential front-runner, did not participate in the survey but said through a spokesman he supports the current restrictions on homosexual service members.
Amid a rising chorus of Democratic criticism of the policy, known as “don’t ask, don’t tell,” Mr. Cohen on Monday ordered the Pentagon inspector general to review enforcement procedures.
But he said yesterday at Dover Air Force Base, Del., the second review in as many years does not mean the policy will be dumped.
“I do not expect the policy to be changed, certainly not during this administration,” Mr. Cohen said. “I have indicated that I want to see that the policy of don’t ask, don’t telldon’t ask, don’t tell and don’t harass’ is effectively implemented, and that’s the reason I called for the Department of Defense inspector general to go out to the field to make sure that the policy is being implemented and, if not, report back to me and tell me why not, so that we can effectively implement it.”
The homosexual ban has become a hot topic among Democratic candidates. Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is running for an open Senate seat from New York, says she wants open homosexuals to serve in the military. The two Democratic presidential contenders, Vice President Al Gore and Bill Bradley, also say they want the ban scrapped.
President Clinton, following up on his wife’s criticism, called the current policy “out of whack,” but stopped short of saying he would try to end the ban as he did in 1993, when a Democratic-controlled Congress rebuffed his proposal.
Military experts say that even if Mr. Clinton made such a bid, or if Mr. Gore were elected president, they would still need congressional approval.
When Mr. Clinton, the Joint Chiefs and lawmakers worked out the “don’t ask, don’t tell” compromise in 1993, Congress also made the ban a federal law. It states that homosexuality is incompatible with military service.
Both ban proponents and opponents say it is unlikely Congress will repeal the exclusion.
The 6-year-old policy is less strict than the law. It dropped the practice of asking inductees if they are gay. It allows homosexuals to serve only if they keep their sexuality private. An admission of homosexuality or homosexual conduct is grounds for discharge.
Democratic criticism of “don’t ask, don’t tell” emerged after new figures show the Pentagon is discharging about twice the number of personnel today than in the policy’s first year. Candidates are also reacting to the beating death of a soldier who was thought to be homosexual at Fort Campbell, Ky.
Policy backers, such as Charles Moskos, a leading military sociologist, say more people are being dismissed from active duty because fewer inductees are screened out by a question that is no longer being asked.
Meanwhile, Elaine Donnelly, who directs the Center for Military Readiness, released a candidates survey yesterday on the hottest social issues facing the military: mixed-sex basic training, homosexuals in the military, and women on submarines and in combat.
Neither Mr. Bush nor Sen. Orrin G. Hatch responded to the survey.
Of Mr. Bush, Mrs. Donnelly said, “This will be a huge disappointment to people in uniform, veterans and civilians who support a strong national defense. Many were counting on Governor Bush to show an interest in military personnel problems that are contributing to recruiting and retention losses.”
Ari Fleischer, a spokesman for the Bush campaign, said in an interview the candidate backs enforcing “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
“The governor supports the don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy,” Mr. Fleischer said. “He believes if it’s not working it should be made to work. He faults Mr. Clinton for not showing enough leadership ability to make it work.”
Mr. Fleischer said Mr. Bush supports the ban on open homosexuality “because the principal purpose of the military is to create cohesive fighting units that can secure the peace through their ability to win and fight wars and that must be coupled with strong presidential leadership that sets the tone in the military that bigotry and intolerance should not be tolerated through the ranks.”
The presidential candidates responding to Mrs. Donnelly were Republicans John McCain, Gary Bauer, Steve Forbes and Alan Keyes; Reform Party contender Pat Buchanan; and Howard Phillips of the Constitution Party.
All said they opposed open homosexuals in the military. Four candidates said they would revert to the old policy of an outright ban on homosexuals. Mr. McCain said he would not reimpose the old ban or the question for inductees. Mr. Buchanan did not answer the question. Mr. Fleischer said Mr. Bush opposes reviving the question.
All respondents but Mr. McCain said they reject mixed-sex recruit training in the Army, Navy and Air Force. The Marine Corps trains men and women recruits separately. A Bush spokesman previously has said he is considering separating the sexes for at least the first few weeks of training.
The respondents also unanimously oppose opening Navy submarines to women. Navy Secretary Richard Danzig has broached the possibility of sexually integrating subs but adds that he has no immediate plans to do so.
In addition, all six respondents said they would not open additional combat jobs to women, such as artillery and special operations helicopters, which would take females closer to land combat.
But Mr. McCain, a former Navy combat pilot and POW in Vietnam, broke with the other candidates and said he supported women serving in combat aircraft and warships. Congress lifted those exclusions in 1994.
The Bush campaign has said the candidate supports the current roles for military women.
Neither Mr. Gore nor Mr. Bradley answered Mrs. Donnelly’s survey.

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