Homosexuals in the Military
Vol. 1 No. 3
Editorial by Don Slater
Originally published in the Dec. 1965 issue of Tangents
John Kifner of the New York Times recently reported “a nationwide movement against military draft,” organized by opponents of the Viet Nam war. “They hope to capitalize on a spirit that has already led thousands of youths to try to avoid the draft by burning their draft cards, by neglecting to register, by feigning homosexuality…”
We have no wish to enter the realm of politics in Tangents, nor to pass judgment on the motives of either those who support the Viet Nam war or those who oppose it, but we consider it our duty to discuss the issue of homosexuality wherever it arises. That it has arisen in an extremely touchy political, philosophical, even spiritual area, does not alter our obligation.
Under the heading, “What Worries Ike: The Breakdown in American Morals,” U.S. News and World Report has recounted some recent remarks of General Dwight D. Eisenhower. The former President was especially incensed by a television broadcast he witnessed where a participant “was giving the ways and means and excuses you could use to get out of military service… You could plead homosexuality as one of the reasons.”
This is true. It was true during both World Wars and the Korean conflict. It will continue to be true until the Army changes its policies. But the responsibility lies not in what General Eisenhower terms “some kind of moral deterioration.” It lies in an unrealistic if not hypocritical government attitude.
We have long asked that this attitude and the military induction rules that instrument it be changed. For while homosexuals are barred from entry into the Army, Navy and Air Force, the Marines and Coast Guard, two corruptive results are going to recur.
One is that men without the courage of their anti-war convictions will avoid military service by pretending to be homosexual — thereby not only degrading further the image of the American homosexual, but undermining honest anti-war positions — and the other is that homosexuals who want to serve their country as soldiers, sailors, fliers, marines, must lie about their sexual persuasion.
While General Eisenhower may not know it, it is a fact that thousands of men who served under his command in the European theatre of World War II were homosexuals. Thousands more served in the Pacific and elsewhere, and later in Korea. Figures to prove it are lacking, since the only figures the armed forces have on homosexuals concern those dishonorably discharged for infractions of regulations against homosexual acts. But the fact remains, as those of us informed on the subject know, that homosexuals have served well in all our recent wars — and will continue to serve.
It is time they be permitted to do so openly.