- - Sunday, June 21, 2015

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

In the classic TV series “M*A*S*H,” Corp. Maxwell Klinger, played by Jamie Farr, dressed in women’s clothes in hopes that he might be sent home from the Korean War. Decades later, Pentagon officials have embraced policies that might encourage real-life “Corp. Klingers” to cross-dress in order to qualify for “sexual orientation” diversity promotions.

This is not an outlandish scenario, given what Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter said on during the Pentagon’s Fourth Annual LGBT Equality Day on June 9. The event celebrated lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders in the military, with Army Brig. Gen. Randy Taylor making news by introducing his husband from the podium. Even more significant was Mr. Carter’s announcement that sexual orientation will be covered in Military Equal Opportunity (MEO) programs.

This is not a symbolic change. Adding undefined “sexual orientation” to other MEO-covered categories, such as race, gender, religion, age, and national origin, ushers in a new gender order enforced by LGBT law in the military.

The 1964 Civil Rights Act and other equal opportunity laws do not apply to the armed forces. The Obama administration nevertheless has decided to make sexual orientation a special class. The new policy belies disingenuous promises that the administration made when it was pressuring Congress to repeal the 1993 law known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

The 2010 Comprehensive Review Working Group, co-chaired by then-Defense General Counsel Jeh Johnson, opposed placement of sexual orientation alongside race, color, religion, sex and national origin as a class under Military Equal Opportunity Programs. Quoting the working group report, “We believe that doing so could produce a sense, rightly or wrongly, that gay men and lesbians are being elevated to a special status as a ‘protected class’ and will receive special treatment.”

Four years later, the administration is doing just that. At the LGBT Pride event, Mr. Carter called for “diversity and inclusion [that] is critical to recruiting and retaining the force of the future [and] our military’s future leaders, innovators and strategists.” Former Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen used to call this “diversity as a strategic imperative.”

In 1948 the U.S. military banned racial discrimination for reasons of military necessity as well as equal opportunity. The agenda today, however, is not about merit-based individual rights or non-discrimination. According to the Pentagon-endorsed Military Leadership Diversity Commission (MLDC), this is about group rights and “diversity metrics,” another name for “quotas.”

The commission’s 2011 final report admits that the new egalitarian agenda is “not about treating everyone the same. This can be a difficult concept to grasp, especially for leaders who grew up with the EO-inspired mandate to be both color and gender blind.”

In an institution that follows orders, egalitarian mandates have consequences. At the U.S. Military Academy, for example, the announced 20 percent goal for female cadets will displace otherwise-deserving men. And Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has called for a “critical mass” of women in currently all-male ground combat units.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus wants one in four Marines to be women, with some of them assigned to physically demanding Special Operations Forces positions. Given recruiting-retention realities and physical strength differences that will not change, these gender diversity metrics will lower standards and elevate risks for men and women alike.

In March 2015, Air Force Secretary Debra James announced her intent to increase the pool of promotable female officers to 30 percent. She added that anyone who does not support this goal will not be eligible for promotion.

Ms. James’ position reflects the MLDC report, which recommended that a “Chief Diversity Officer” be established to monitor accountability for “diversity management.” With compliance becoming a criterion for promotions to all levels, including three- and four-star ranks, dissent is not an option.

Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michelle Howard, who believes in “critical mass” theories, wants 25 percent women in all Navy ship crews and squadrons. There are no “studies” proving the value of high-percentage diversity quotas in the military, which will hurt morale and heighten undeserved resentment against women.

The new “sexual orientation” equal opportunity policy does not repeal regulations regarding transgenders in uniform, but in the military’s new gender order, Military Equal Opportunity programs likely will stretch to cover persons “identifying” with the opposite sex.

In 2006, Michigan voters overwhelmingly passed a proposal to end government-mandated discrimination, and the Supreme Court upheld the referendum as constitutional. Apparently oblivious to the controversy, military leaders are marching in the opposite direction.

So to get a fair shot at promotion, what’s a regular, sex-majority kind of guy supposed to do? Corp. Klinger was a fictional character, but he may have been ahead of his time.

Elaine Donnelly is president of the Center for Military Readiness.

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