Friday, September 05, 2008

Republican Party platform says affirms "incompatibility" of homosexuality with military service


SLDN (Servicemember’s Legal Defense Network) has informed its supporters of some very disturbing language in the Republic Party’s Platform:

"To protect our servicemen and women and ensure that America's Armed Forces remain the best in the world, we affirm the timeliness of those values, the benefits of traditional military culture, and the incompatibility of homosexuality with military service."

What are they proposing, returning to “asking”?

SLDN gives a link to contact the Republican Party leadership, here.

The language appears on page 5 of the Platform Document, here.

I grew up in a culture that had a military draft, complicated by controversial student deferments and, earlier, fatherhood and marriage deferments (that were eliminated). Sometimes people tried to feign homosexuality to get out of the draft. Many times the military took them anyway. But unsuitability for military service was at first considered evidence or moral unsuitability for participation in many other areas of life, especially those requiring function as a “male role model.” The military policy, although often not enforced, set an example for replication in many areas of civilian society where, for many years, it was actually worse than it was in the military. It is true that this “example setting” theory began to weaken because the credibility of American involvement in Vietnam came under pressure.

In my own life, this is still quite troubling to me today.

To be fair, I have to note that earlier on p 5 the Republican Party writes "The all-volunteer force has been a success. We oppose reinstating the draft, whether directly or through compulsory national service." Nevertheless, in my own personal story to this day, the secondary effect of the military attitude and policy, connected with ideas about gender obligations, has remained very significant in some other areas (as in my substitute teaching stint).

The official policy, formulated in 1982, long before “don’t ask don’t tell”, was stated in the notorious litany called “the 123 Words” as noted by Randy Shilts in his 1993 book “Conduct Unbecoming”.

“Homosexuality is incompatible with military service. The presence in the military environment of persons who engage in homosexual conduct or who, by their statements demonstrate a propensity to engage in homosexual conduct, seriously impairs the accomplishment of the military mission. The presence of such members adversely affects the ability of the Military Services to maintain discipline, good order, and morale; to foster mutual trust and confidence among servicemembers; to ensure the integrity of the system of rank an command; to facilitate assignment and worldwide deployment of servicemembers who frequently must live and work under close conditions affording minimal privacy; to recruit and retain members of the Military Services; to maintain public acceptability of military service; and to prevent breaches of security.”

Fordham University has a link explaining this statement here.
I’ve always thought that the last sentence of this 1982 policy is particularly circular in logical consequences. But that’s what I had to live with during my own coming of age.

Log Cabin Republicans has a story about Steve Schmidt’s speech here.

Patrick Sammon discusses LCR’s endorsement of John McCain in this CNN video on YouTube. He says that, despite the Republican Party leadership, most rank and file Republicans support equal rights for gays, and he says that 64% of Americans support the ability of gays to serve openly in the military. LCR maintains that gay equality cannot be obtained without working within the Republican Party as well as the Democrats. LCR members tend to be economically conservative, to favor capitalism and "personal responsibility" as opposed to more emphasis on government programs. Gay libertarians (like GLIL) take this belief system even further, into the area of its own ideology.

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