Wrong Criterion, Judge on Performance, Not Sexual Preference

By Major W. Cox

In an attempt to better understand the current emotional debate over homosexuals in the military, let’s take a moment to examine our ideological roots. The formative influences of Western civilization in the areas of morality and behavior stem from the Ancient Greeks and Jews. The Greeks gave us ideologies guided by our physical senses and our ability to reason. The Jews provide us with ideologies of faith and religious values. Today’s controversy about homosexuals serving in the military contrasts a person’s “behavior” with their “biology” and draws the line between Jewish and Greek values within society.

Those individuals objecting to homosexual behavior are saying that man is a moral agent responsible for his actions and that homosexual acts are wrong. They accept fully the prohibitions found in both the Old and New Testaments and condemn any form of homosexuality. Individuals choosing a homosexual lifestyle are choosing to do wrong in their view and must accept the social consequences for their choice.

Many individuals believe as the Ancient Greeks ¼ as understood through the writings of Plato¼ that homosexuality is biologically determined, not a behavior choice and that there should be a place in society for homosexuals. These individuals believe that society should tolerant homosexuals. They are attempting develop a political consensus to change the laws that discriminate against homosexuals.

I come down on the side of the Ancient Greeks, I believe that there is a place in our society for homosexuals. These individuals are entitled to the constitutional protection and privileges afforded other Americans. The recent spectacle of Col Fred Peck, the spokesperson for the U.S. military serving in Somalia, testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee brought me to this conclusion. Col Peck told the committee that he did not want his son, Scott, whom he described as the “military’s ideal ¼ a strapping, 6-foot-1, blond, blue-eyed senior at the University of Maryland,” to serve in the armed forces because Scott is homosexual and he would fear for his son’s life. Col Peck told the committee: “Homosexuals, even those who hide their sexuality, are disruptive to the service, and they face the threat of death at the hands of their comrades.”

Col Peck’s statement regarding his son’s sexual preference is a classic example of the hyperbole surrounding the debate over homosexuals openly serving in the military. Scott Peck, his 24 year old son, doesn’t agree. “I think I have a little more faith in members of the military. ¼ They can be counted on to act honorably.” Scott told a reporter interviewing him for a newspaper story about his father’s statements to the committee.

Incidents of violence committed against homosexual servicemen by others don’t justify the prohibition of homosexuals from military service. Those who would commit criminal violence against another person because of his sexual orientation (or any reason) shouldn’t be in the military. That’s why I think the focus of the discussion should not be on sexual orientation of individuals but rather individual conduct. Clearly the type of violence alluded to by Col Peck in his testimony to the committee is unlawful. Society must not tolerate individuals committing such acts, much less in the military.

The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) instructs military regulation and policy as to inappropriate sexual behavior. The military’s current policy toward homosexuals permits an individual to lie about the status and serve as long as he or she doesn’t tell anyone. This policy does violence to the ethics of everyone concerned. The “if you don’t tell anything we won’t say anything” policy invites homosexual individuals to lie about their status. Then once they are in the military, they become subject to blackmail by those who may be aware of their homosexuality. Ironically, when this happens the policy provides the atmosphere for blackmailers to place criminal demands upon a person who is homosexual. So the dilemma confronting thousands of homosexuals serving in the military is how to protect themselves from the criminal acts of others without violating the military’s “don’t tell” policy.

In my view, the potential for disruption caused by homosexuals openly serving in the military is overstated. Current policy allows far greater opportunity for disruption than there would be if individuals declared their sexual preference in the same manner one declares religious, political, or racial preferences. Now is time for us to make a place for Homosexual Americans under the protective shield of our constitution. Let them serve in the military. Judge military personnel by duty performance not sexual preferences.

Originally Published: 30 May 1993, Montgomery Advertiser

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