McCain, Inhofe Oppose Repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell;' Lieberman Thinks Repeal Won’t Hurt Recruitment
February 11, 2010 - 11:03 PMTwo Republican members of the Senate Armed Services Committee told CNSNews.com that the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) policy concerning homosexuals serving in the military has worked and should not be repealed at this time.
Under "don't ask, don't tell" the military does not ask new recruits (as it once did) to certify that they are not homosexual. However, it remains illegal and a cause for separation from the service to engage in homosexual activity while serving in the military.
At the U.S. Capitol last week, CNSNews.com asked Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, “Will officially allowing gays in the military affect recruitment?”
McCain said, “I’m not sure. I do know that the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy has worked very well. We have the most professional, most capable military in the world. We’re in two wars, but I don’t believe this is the time to change the policy.”
CNSNews.com asked Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) the same question and he said: “Well, you know, I don’t think it’s going to help recruitment. The system, the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ system, it’s been working. It’s been working for several years now.”
Inhofe continued: “I think back to the days when I was in the United States Army, if we had three different classes, you have men, women and you have gays, it’s going to be that much more complicated in the just basics, of barracks and, you know, just those things. So, yeah, I’m opposed to what they’re proposing and, as I say, it’s working now, what we’re doing.”
When asked why he thinks President Barack Obama wants to change the DADT policy, Inhofe said, “Well, he’s catering to another group of people. He’s a politician first.”
Also, when asked whether homosexual activity should be legalized in the Uniform Code of Military Justice if DADT policy is changed, Inhofe said, “of course not.”
“That’s just carrying it one step further,” he told CNSNews.com. “It will overly complicate things, make it very difficult for us to take care of the troops, in battle as well as state-side. So, it will be very complicated – and I’m not sure it’s going to happen because there are a lot of people who want to cater to the same community, the gay community, that are going to be looking at the cost of this – and I’m talking about people on the armed services committee now. So, let’s wait and see what happens.”
Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), who caucuses with the Democrats, said his “intuition” tells him that repealing the DADT policy will not hurt recruitment.
“It’s a really good question,” he told CNSNews.com. “There’s no question that the existence of the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy has discouraged some gay and lesbian Americans from enlisting in the military. The question we don’t know, which I think this study will explore is if we repeal that current policy, and therefore gays and lesbians can serve openly in the military, will it discourage recruitment?” he told CNSNews.com in an interview.
“My instinct, my intuition is that it will not because the people who want to service in our military want to serve our country, and, ultimately, they’ll care less about the sexual orientation of the people they are serving with than about how capable or courageous those people are who are serving with them. But this is part of what the survey will determine.”
The DADT policy, established in 1993 through President Clinton’s Department of Defense, means that military personnel should not ask any soldier about their sexuality and individuals serving in the military should not openly discuss their sexuality.
Long-standing law, however, has prohibited people from serving in the military who either say they are homosexual or who engage in homosexual conduct. This law is found at United States Code Title 10, Subtitle G, Section 654, also known as “P.L. 103-160." So, even if the Defense Department drops the DADT policy, Congress would still need to change the underlying law to allow self-professed homosexuals or people who engage in homosexual activity to serve in the military.
“The prohibition against homosexual conduct is a longstanding element of military law that continues to be necessary in the unique circumstances of military service,” reads the law.
“The armed forces must maintain personnel policies that exclude persons whose presence in the armed forces would create an unacceptable risk to the armed forces' high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion that are the essence of military capability,” says P.L. 103-60.
The law also says that homosexual activity would create an “unacceptable risk” to the “high standards of morale” in the military.It states: “The presence in the armed forces of persons who demonstrate a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts would create an unacceptable risk to the high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion that are the essence of military capability.”
According to the Center for Military Readiness, a conservative group, this law continues to be misnamed “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
“A statute that says one thing, (Section 654, Title 10) and a policy (don’t ask, don’t tell) that says another is the source of all this confusion,” Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness, told CNSNews.com.
“Admiral Mullen, at the hearing Tuesday [Feb. 2], made not a single argument in favor of repealing the law in favor of military readiness,” said Donnelly. “Instead, all he talked about was his emotional feelings about how people supposedly have to lie to be in the military. That’s really not so.”
Donnelly served as a member of the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services (1984-86) under President Ronald Reagan. In 1992, she was appointed by President George H.W. Bush to serve on the Presidential Commission on the Assignment of Women in the Armed Forces.
“A person who is not eligible to be in the military, should not be in the military, but there is institutional dishonesty and it starts with the Department of Defense because of the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ regulations,” said Donnelly. “If you get rid of those regulations and fully enforce the law, that problem goes away but Admiral Mullen, apparently, is only looking at this in terms of his own emotions.”
Admiral Michael Glenn Mullen is chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest ranking officer in the U.S. armed forces.
The Wall Street Journal reported that changing the DADT “likely requires congressional action because the law is currently codified in a federal statute, 10 U.S.C. Sec. 654.”
In the article, University of Wisconsin Political Science Professor Kenneth Mayer referenced the following section of the law that would need to be changed to repeal DADT. Section (b) of the law states:
"Policy. - A member of the armed forces shall be separated from the armed forces under regulations prescribed by the Secretary of Defense if one or more of the following findings is made and approved in accordance with procedures set forth in such regulations: (1) That the member has engaged in, attempted to engage in, or solicited another to engage in a homosexual act or acts unless there are further findings . . . [or] (2) That the member has stated that he or she is a homosexual or bisexual, or words to that effect . . .
This “puts the law on statutory footing,” Mayer said.
In another question, CNSNews.com asked Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), “Even if ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ is repealed, there’s still the law saying that gays, homosexual activity is still illegal in the military. Do you support legalizing homosexual activity in the military?”
Lieberman said: “Well, I don’t think that’s the question here.”
“The military actually has a very strong Code of Military Justice, the code that the military lives by full of values,” said Lieberman. “So anybody who’s gay or lesbian who serves in the military has to live by that code and that has to be with the way they treat other members of their unit or other members of the military or people outside of the military.”
“The military is one of the few institutions in our society remaining, perhaps outside of religious orders or institutions, that really lives every day and is held to a high standard of values,” said Lieberman.
Article 125 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice specifically prohibits sodomy, and reads as follows:
“(a) Any person subject to this chapter who engages in unnatural carnal copulation with another person of the same or opposite sex or with an animal is guilty of sodomy. Penetration, however slight, is sufficient ?to complete the offense.
(b) Any person found guilty of sodomy shall by punished as a court-martial may direct.”
Further explanation of the military code against sodomy can be read here.