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Web Letter

Despite the remarkable determination and steady success of the gay rights movement, the US military remains a bastion of homophobia and discrimination. As an active duty Army officer, I applaud the courage of General (Ret.) Shalikashvili's recent rejoinder to General (Ret.) Lindsay and company's op-ed piece, which Richard Kim mentions here.

Current law and Army policy remove mere sexual orientation as a litmus test for military service. They instead require some affirmative display of "homosexual conduct" as a basis for discharge. Homosexual conduct consists of homosexual acts (that is, any bodily contact between members of the same sex to satisfy sexual desires), homosexual marriages and statements "that [a soldier] is a homosexual or bisexual, or words to that effect." 10 USC.S. § 654 (b) (1)-(3), (f) (3) (A).

Admittedly, using statements about one's sexual orientation as a basis for discharge may be problematic. When investigating allegations of homosexual conduct, for example, Army commanders may not directly ask a soldier, "Are you gay?" They may, however, ask, "Did you tell your roommate last week that you are gay?" Army Regulation 600-20, Army Command Policy, para. 4-19 (d) (5) (c), (e) (18 March, 2008, & Change 1, 11 Feb., 2009). This aspect of the policy places homosexual soldiers in an untenable position, forbidden to even mention their sexual orientation in the presence of their colleagues. But compared with the option of punishing mere sexual orientation without any concrete manifestation of it, the current policy is more palatable, at least in theory.

Army senior leaders should encourage Congress to amend 10 USC. § 654 and remove homosexual conduct as a basis for discharge from military service. The parade of horrible consequences that supporters of the current law predict in the wake of such an amendment--such as a mass exodus of heterosexual troops or the irreparable damage to unit cohesion that homosexual troops would cause--has never been convincing (James L. Lindsay, Jerome Johnson, E.G. "Buck" Shuler Jr., and Joseph J. Went, "Gays and the Military: A Bad Fit," Washington Post [Apr. 15, 2009]). It shamefully legitimizes similar prejudices used to resist gender and racial integration of the armed forces in previous eras. Supporters of the current law also seem to assume that homosexual men and women will lose all self-control and social decorum in a military setting and force themselves upon unwilling heterosexual partners. Such misconduct is not exclusive to or more prevalent among homosexuals. To suggest otherwise is insulting.

The US Army is a generally fair organization that rewards strong performance regardless of a person's unchangeable traits. Rather than lagging behind society on gay rights, the Army should set the standard by protecting soldiers from discrimination based on their sexual orientation and urging Congress to amend 10 USC. § 654.

Major William J. Dobosh Jr.

Fort Gordon, GA

Jul 25 2009 - 8:19pm

Web Letter

"...primarily just...a strategic issue."

Oh, it's a strategic issue okay, but no one is seeing through the dull facade. Read this and you will understand just what is going on: "The Big Chill: Why Obama Must Defend DOMA as He Works For Repeal." As a retired civil rights lawyer and an activist, I am very disappointed in the fact that no one is telling the legal and factual truth. Please read and be enlightened.

John P. Mortimer

San Francisco, CA

Jun 29 2009 - 2:52pm

Web Letter

It's time, Mr. Obama.

Kudos to New England (sans RI) and Iowa for supporting marriage equality and fairness.

I'm busy officiating for couples who are coming to CT this summer to wed because they aren't allowed to do so in their own home states just yet.

Have you forgotten your own inter-racial parents, Mr. Obama?

Kudos to civil marriage.

Joseph A. Mustich, Justice of the Peace

Washington, CT

Jun 29 2009 - 8:37am

Web Letter

I am beginning to believe that the true issue here is political opportunism. On the one hand, we have two liberal Democrat mayors of two large California cities, Gavin Newsom and Antonio Villraigoza, (the former of which literally thumbed his nose at the state constitution that he was sworn to uphold in his office--but never mind that, right?), both of which are heterosexual males and strong supporters of same-sex marriage. Yet both of these men, had so little respect for this institution in their own personal lives that they decided to cheat on their wives.

And now of course we have Nevada's Sen. John Ensign, a conservative Republican who opposes same-sex marriage for whatever lofty reasons (a conservative Vegas paper still labeled him an upstanding citizen), yet did not respect said institution enough in his own personal life enough to refrain from cheating on his wife.

Newsom and Villaraigoza simply court (no pun intended) the gay vote, while Ensign courts those opposed to same-sex marriage, also for votes. All three men are hypocrites in their personal lives and self-seeking opportunists in their political lives. Ah, but now they want us to trust them with our votes!

John Molina

Chula Vista, CA

Jun 25 2009 - 6:24pm

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