- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 26, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

For the first time since the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy was established by President Clinton under a law passed in 1993, the House Armed Services Committee has scheduled hearings to review it. The law disqualifies gays from serving in the military.

Individuals are deemed gay, according to this ruling, if they publicly state so. However, the military is prohibited from asking. Thus, “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Activists are now pushing for change to allow gays to serve openly.

We can anticipate a technical discussion. Does the presence of openly homosexual soldiers undermine cohesiveness of units, morale and discipline? How would retention rates of troops or enlistments be affected?

We can be sure, though, there will be no discussion about the general moral implications of such a policy.

Early last year, then-Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Peter Pace called homosexuality “immoral.” More fire and brimstone rained down on him than fell on the residents of Sodom and Gomorrah for engaging in this behavior.

Rebukes came from Democrats and Republicans alike. Virginia Republican Sen. John Warner, a former Senate Armed Services Committee chairman, writing his own scripture, challenged Gen. Pace’s view that homosexuality is immoral.

Although a recent Zogby poll of military personnel shows more opposed to allowing gays to serve openly than favoring (37 percent to 26 percent), the direction of polling of the general public favors the pro-gay forces.

When “don’t ask, don’t tell” was enacted in 1993, an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll showed 52 percent opposed to homosexuals serving openly and 43 percent in favor. By 2004, Gallup polling indicated 63 percent in favor of allowing homosexuals to serve against 32 percent opposed.

The culture war is like the recipe for boiling a frog. If you drop it in hot water, it jumps out. But if you drop it in cold water and slowly turn up the heat, you get frog soup. Concession by concession, traditional values are being pushed, inexorably, to the margins of America.

It’s a sign of this moral war of attrition that each battle is fought with less and less attention to what it means to the overall war. Acceptance of openly gay people in the military means the next discussion will be qualification of gay couples for the same benefits received by traditional military families.

In all likelihood, we’ll see claims of discrimination if a gay person gets passed over for promotion and intimidated review committees will become increasingly politically correct. But, hey, in the morally relative world, a glass half empty for one is half full for the other.

Increasing acceptance of homosexuality is viewed by many as social progress. The Seattle Times, for example, calls for a “modernized” military that accepts the openly gay. But for this traditionalist, it’s no accident that building public acceptance of homosexuality is coincident with a general moral unraveling of our society, with all its destructive consequences.

According to Kevin Hassett of the American Enterprise Institute, 32 percent of American households today are nontraditional compared to only 28 percent that are traditional, with a mother, father and children. The remaining 40 percent are households without children. He points out that children in nontraditional households have considerably higher incidences of emotional and educational problems.

I would argue that most of the major costs dragging down our society today - whether its poverty, entitlements, health care or housing - trace to our diminishing sense of personal responsibility and erosion of traditional values.

Our first great general, George Washington, would be considered politically incorrect today cautioning against believing “that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle” and admonishing, “virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government.”

“Gays in the military” is more than a question of military morale. It’s about the character of this country that we have a military to defend. Who would question what George Washington would say about this important issue?

Star Parker is a columnist for Scripps Howard News Service, president of CURE, Coalition on Urban Renewal and Education, and author of three books.

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