Democrats are in strategic retreat after falling short of the votes needed Tuesday to repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law that prevents homosexuals from serving openly in the armed forces. That’s good news for the soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen who signed up to defend their country, not to participate in social experimentation. Many of these brave individuals were taken aback by the comments of high-ranking military brass at an August meeting of U.S. troops stationed in Germany discussing President Obama’s proposed changes to military life.
In a letter to the editor, Rob Fulcher, an Army civil servant who works at Patch Barracks in Stuttgart, shares what he heard as a participant. In an interview, he said he and his colleagues were most disturbed hearing that, “If your faith interferes with this and you can’t adapt, you’ll be gone.” Sen. James M. Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican and Senate Armed Services Committee member, told The Washington Times that another attendee mentioned to him that the Army’s deputy chief of staff in charge of personnel matters equated the push to allow homosexual conduct in the military to the civil rights movement. For his part, Lt. Gen. Thomas P. Bostick disputes this version of events and insists he has never expressed any personal views that could influence consideration of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
“I think there’s a right thing to do and a wrong thing to do in the military,” Mr. Inhofe told The Washington Times. “And this all comes from the administration. It’s put a lot of senior military people in a very awkward position of being forced into something they know is wrong.”
While the White House views repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” as little more than a bullet point to share with fringe activist groups, those who actually have to live under the policy take it far more seriously. The military would face very real difficulty in implementing a radical shift of this nature. For example, it’s not enough to say that homosexuals are allowed to serve. As Gen. Bostick stated last month, the president’s plan could not be implemented without “education.” Good order and discipline would be impossible without troops trusting one another, so the indoctrination would have to push tolerance of homosexual conduct among fellow servicemen.
Does that mean a Baptist chaplain would be prohibited from reading the letters of St. Paul that describe homosexuality as sinful? How would Mr. Obama’s re-imagined Army deal with Muslim chaplains given a number of Islamic countries impose the death penalty for homosexual conduct? It’s hard to ponder these questions and not come to the same conclusion as pop-music activist Lady Gaga, who said on the eve of the vote, “Our new law is called ‘If you don’t like it, go home!’ “
Fortunately, the law did not change this week, narrowing the window of opportunity for Mr. Obama to move on the controversial issue before adjournment. Mr. Inhofe points out that it’s unlikely Senate Democrats up for re-election in 2012 would be eager to return in a lame duck session to ram through an unpopular policy after seeing so many of their colleagues discharged on Nov. 2. That means Christian soldiers, at least for now, can continue to serve without fear of discrimination against their beliefs.