February 21, 2010.
It is interesting to read articles by two columnists about black Americans in the military — in light of President Truman’s integrating the military in 1948 — and having homosexuals serve openly, ending Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.
Kathleen Parker does a good job of putting the issue of homosexuals serving openly in perspective when she says that it should only be discussed as an issue of military effectiveness.
But then I would direct her to read Leonard Pitts’ thoughts on how it was for black Americans to serve in the military, drafted, when they were still denied their civil/equal rights. It may not be a civil rights issue since the military is different from the general society, but it sure makes a difference, even when the military is now all voluntary, to have a segment of society denied the right to serve their country on the basis of a private matter.
The question is why homosexual military personnel, as was true of black personnel, should be treated differently? Why should someone be refused the right to serve when their abilities are needed, as was true of the personnel who could speak Arabic? While the reason for kicking someone out because of an act is understandable, why do heterosexuals not get kicked out for a sex act while homosexuals do?
The record shows that some people who actually have had homosexual acts are not kicked out and are assumed to be still heterosexual while homosexuals have been kicked out even though there was no act. Yet there is actually no scientific way of deciding who is or is not homosexual. The act does not make someone homosexual, and someone can be homosexual without the act. As Dr. Evelyn Hooker found in research, and was used in court in the 1960s during the Vietnam war when the military tried to force young men to serve when they had said they were homosexual, it was silly for the army to actually ask a man to perform a sex act to prove he was homosexual. In fact, heterosexual men said they would do so, and yet they were not homosexual and thus evaded the draft.
Since no one denies that homosexuals have served and are serving in the military, the issue is not a problem of military effectiveness. And as Pitts points out, it is truly an issue of human rights when during WWII black soldiers and guards were refused service in restaurants while German enemies were served with white military guards. And there were questions about the ability of black men to serve on an equal basis with white men and if they were brave enough. Not to mention the issue of Japanese Americans serving despite their families being put in concentration camps. Parker has to deal with this sociological issue, and so does the military and Congress.
And it is a proven fact that when Truman integrated the military in 1948, the majority of citizens oppose his action. Just as they opposed interracial marriage in the 1960s when the U.S. Supreme Court finally gave all Americans the right to choose their marital partner — except homosexuals. And it is irrelevant how many people oppose homosexuals in the military. When our nation is at war and needs personnel who are willing to protect us, it is nonsense to ask if there is an issue of “military effectiveness.”
As has been said often, including by another Barry (Goldwater), the question is only if homosexuals can fire a gun or do a job as well as heterosexuals, as it was a question in 1948 of whether black men could serve as well as white men. And later, how women can best serve in the military.
Now is the time to act. There is no need for “research,” as it has been done since the nation’s founding.