- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 7, 2010

Liberals of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) left are really angry now. On Sept. 21, despite their multimillion-dollar public-relations and lobbying campaign, the U.S. Senate refused to impose a radical social experiment on the American military. Had the LGBT forces prevailed, military men and women would be required to pay the price. Liberals in Congress don’t care - in the debate so far, they have treated the troops as an afterthought.

Media attention has focused primarily on civilian activists who insist that the military be open to professed lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgendered personnel, with “zero tolerance” of dissent. They are demanding repeal of the 1993 law stating that homosexuals are not eligible to serve in the military, which usually is confused with the inconsistent administrative policy known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pushed the campaign, but it encountered resistance from House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton of Missouri. The Obama administration intervened by crafting a “repeal deal” to revoke the 1993 law with “delayed implementation.” In May, the full House and the Senate Armed Services Committee disregarded objections from the four military service chiefs and passed the legislation, embedded in the National Defense Authorization Bill. According to conventional wisdom, repeal of the 1993 law was a fait accompli.

The Senate proved conventional wisdom wrong. Armed Services Committee ranking member John McCain and 41 other national-security-minded colleagues successfully blocked the defense bill with a bipartisan vote. This was necessary because Majority Leader Harry Reid had loaded the bill with three unacceptable measures: repealing the law on gays in the military, providing abortions in military hospitals and granting immigration amnesty for students. (Congress can approve worthwhile sections of the bill elsewhere.) The stunning vote was a triple victory for our military, but it could be undone if liberals succeed in backdoor efforts to impose the LGBT agenda on troops whose views have not been heard.


Shortly after President Obama’s State of the Union call for repeal of the 1993 law, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates established a high-level comprehensive review working group to assess ways to “mitigate” the consequences if Congress repealed the law. The presumption that Congress would do so colored and limited the working group’s procedures for “engaging the troops.” The Pentagon appeared to take sides, assigning second-class status to service members who wanted to express support for current law.

Tension escalated in March when Mr. Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen publicly admonished Army Lt. Gen. Benjamin R. Mixon for writing a letter to Stars and Stripes encouraging troops to express their opinions in support of the law before congressional action. Adm. Mullen, who frequently promotes his own personal views favoring repeal, invited the Army’s Pacific commander to “vote with his feet.”

In July, homosexual activists “outed” the list of questions that the Defense Department’s official survey asked of 400,000 military personnel. In the official survey and in focus groups that some attendees have described to the Center for Military Readiness, participants were told that the only topics of official interest were how to implement repeal of the law - not whether the law should be repealed.

In an August incident reported by The Washington Times but denied by the Pentagon, Lt. Gen. Thomas P. Bostick, the deputy chief of Army personnel and co-leader of the working group’s policy team, reportedly used derogatory terms to describe service members who might resist implementation of a new LGBT policy. According to sources cited by the Times, one of whom signed a published letter (see Page B2 for a new letter), during an open forum with 500 troops in Stuttgart, Germany, Gen. Bostick suggested that persons disagreeing for reasons of religious conviction would have to “get with the program” or get out. Given conflicting accounts, the Army inspector general should investigate immediately to determine exactly what happened.

In the meantime, members of Congress should evaluate the working group’s procedures and its resulting report with skepticism. Once again, Mr. McCain has taken the lead in calling for a re-examination of the Pentagon’s entire approach to this issue. In a Sept. 28 letter to Mr. Gates, Mr. McCain noted that Defense Department surveys intended to “engage” the troops may have been skewed by mistaken presumptions. Denied the opportunity to support current law on the record, focus-group participants were asked to come up with “remedies” for avoidable problems.

The Military Culture Coalition (MCC) recently sent to the Defense Department working group a lengthy list of issues of concern that the panel should address objectively in its Dec. 1 report. The MCC list demolishes the notion that implementation of a new LGBT law or policy for the military would be “easy” or desirable in terms of military necessity.

By slowing and possibly stopping the headlong race to repeal Section 654, Title 10, U.S.C., 42 senators who supported Mr. McCain’s principled objection have created an opportunity for a more responsible review of this important issue.

Americans who support our military are in no mood for pre-emptive actions by the Obama administration or a vote in the lame-duck Congress that would weaken or repeal the current law.

Elaine Donnelly is president of the Center for Military Readiness, an independent public policy organization that specializes in military/social issues.