Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said Wednesday that pro-military activists who opposed lifting the ban on gays serving openly in the ranks are just like the bigots who fought against racial desegregation decades ago.
His remarks came at the Pentagon’s fifth annual pride celebration honoring lesbian, gay and bisexual service members, as well as transgender civilians.
Mr. Mabus said the argument against lifting the ban in 2011 is “exactly the same flawed logic as those who had earlier opposed racial integration or gender integration, claiming that policies of inclusion would erode the war fighting capabilities of the United States. That’s a suggestion that is not only an insult to the professionalism of our armed forces, but it undermines our core values as service men and women and as Americans.”
Among those who opposed removing the ban were prominent veterans in Congress and successive commandants of the Marine Corps during the debate. The worry was rooted in unit cohesion, especially among warriors who deploy in intimate surroundings for months at a time.
“Secretary Mabus’ name rhymes with clueless,” said Elaine Donnelly, who directs the Center for Military Readiness.
Robert Maginnis, a retired Army officer, said: “There is no genetic markers for homosexual proclivities while skin color is dictated by our DNA. In recent years the homosexual lobby used political pressure and bigoted intimidation to cower the medical community into declaring their proclivities ‘normal,’ whereas forever until the last few years it was considered a disorder. Declaring such behavior ‘normal’ may work for the political cowards in Washington and Hollywood but fails the straight-face test in middle America.”
Mr. Mabus, a former Democratic governor of Mississippi, has been a strong proponent of President Obama’s military social agenda. He has ordered the words “man” and “men” to be removed from job titles. He rejected the Marine Corps’ conclusion that putting women in direct land combat units would make them less effective. He also has named warships after liberal activists.
In his speech, he told of a gay Navy corpsman he met overseas at the time of the ban’s repeal.
“‘I just want to tell you how relieved I am,’” he quoted the sailor as saying. “‘I’m gay and I just finished my third combat deployment. And the thing I was worried about the most was not being able to serve.’”
“Now, how bad is that?” Mr. Mabus said.
Held in the Pentagon’s large center courtyard, the 30-minute pride celebration unveiled a new event: the honoring of a civilian and military person who fought for gay rights.
The first honorees were former Rep. Patrick J. Murphy, under secretary of the Army, and retired Navy Adm. Michael Mullen, the former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman who emerged in 2010 as a strong public advocate for Congress lifting the prohibition.
Mr. Mullen’s award was accepted by a retired Air Force sergeant who lived 23 of his 24 years of service in the closet and was assigned to the chairman’s protocol office at the moment Mr. Obama signed the repeal.
Mr. Mabus joined a gay Air Force enlisted person to cut the celebratory sheet cake. An Army rock band then played Kool and the Gang’s disco hit “Celebration.”