By Frank Gaffney
September 22, 2010 - Yesterday, 43 U.S. Senators voted to protect the U.S. military from the radical agenda espoused by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) activists. But for their courage in the face of the vilification and other forms of pressure brought to bear by LGBT champions of repeal of legislation barring avowed homosexuals from serving in the armed forces, we would be well on our way to breaking the All-Volunteer Force on which our country relies in time of war.
Every Senate Republican and two Democrats, Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor, both of Arkansas, effectively voted to retain that ban by supporting a filibuster of the National Defense Authorization Act led by Senator John McCain of Arizona. Sen. McCain is to be commended for his robust opposition to repeal of a 1993 statute adopted after extensive deliberation and debate, in advance of a Pentagon report due December 1 on the impact such a step would have on the military.
Three GOP legislators who commendably resisted the mau-mauing from LGBT agitators are Maine Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins and Massachusetts’ Scott Brown. Each offered various reasons for acting as they did, but what matters is the practical effect of their votes: The most dangerous window of vulnerability for enactment of repeal legislation has now closed.
Outside the Senate, the real hero of this stunning legislative victory is Elaine Donnelly, the indefatigable and gutsy founder and President of the indispensable Center for Military Readiness (CMR). For many years, Elaine has had the military’s back when it comes to feminists, homosexuals and others who give priority to advancing their respective social and political agendas over the readiness and good order and discipline of our armed services. She does her homework, arms herself with the facts and argues persuasively and tenaciously for her position.
In this fight, CMR played a critical role in mobilizing and organizing opposition to the LGBT repeal agenda. It helped 1167 retired senior military leaders come together to warn that doing so would “break” the All-Volunteer Force (Roll Call published the Flag and General Officers for the Military’s open letter from earlier this year as an advertisement on Monday).
CMR conducted a national survey that strongly rebutted the claims that the American people are overwhelmingly in favor of having homosexuals openly serve in the military. And, thanks to Elaine’s leadership, a formidable new team has taken the field, the Military Culture Coalition, made up a broad array of national security, social conservative and other groups and individuals who understand the importance of the military’s unique culture to its ability successfully to defend the rest of us.
Taken together, the effort to stave off repeal of the ban on open homosexuals’ service in the armed forces is a textbook case of how, with capable and inspiring leaders, those committed to the national security can prevail over the combined forces of the President of the United States, the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, virtually the entire Fourth Estate, the Democratic Party and an aggressive and well-funded interest group like the LGBT lobby.
Having said that, yesterday’s victory could prove to be but a stay-of-execution, rather than a commutation of the death sentence the repeal legislation poses to the United States all-volunteer military. Senate majority leader Harry Reid has promised to bring it up again in the lame duck session. It is a safe bet that the intervening period will see an aggressive ramping up of the campaign of ad hominem attacks and political intimidation that have been hallmarks of the radical LGBT team.
As things stand now, however, there will be five new legislators taking office in time to vote in that session, at least some of whom are likely to be Republicans who will be unlikely to want one of their first votes in the Senate to be on so controversial a piece of legislation, without benefit of hearings or an opportunity to get up to speed on the issue.
In addition, it remains to be seen how soon the Pentagon report of the implications of repeal for the armed forces will be made available, let alone exactly what it says. The Center for Military Readiness has submitted to those conducting the study a detailed memorandum laying out myriad issues that must be assessed for the real magnitude of that impact to be fully, let alone properly, assessed. In my Washington Times column of yesterday, I highlighted just a few of these, which serve to make the point that repeal of the ban will be, at a minimum, complicated and distracting, and at worst debilitating to the good order and discipline essential to the military’s functioning:
- If LGBT individuals are allowed to serve, on what basis could heterosexual male and female personnel be kept apart in accommodations, lavatories and other circumstances in which privacy is limited or non-existent?
- Would officers in command of units be given career-ending negative fitness reports if they truthfully advise their superiors that there are real problems implementing the new LGBT policy – for instance, by disclosing that consensual or non-consensual behavior is undermining morale, discipline and morale?
- How many military chaplains will be penalized for not complying with the new LGBT policy that their religious beliefs tell them is immoral (including performing same-sex marriages, conducting diversity programs that promote LGBT conduct as equivalent to heterosexual conduct, etc)?
- How will housing of same-sex couples be handled on military bases in states that do not recognize such relationships with marriage or civil unions?
- How will transgender personnel be accommodated in housing, lavatories, etc.? Will sex-change operations be a covered health care benefit for the military?
- How will the military contend with personnel known to be at greater risk of HIV infection – namely, males who engage in sexual conduct other with men – with regard to medical services and medication, exemption from deployment, emergency transfusions, etc.?
- Most importantly, what evidence is there that repeal of the 1993 law will strengthen and improve the combat capability, discipline, morale and overall readiness of the All-Volunteer Force?
The fight to protect the U.S. armed forces from the repercussions of such social engineering is not over. Even before the lame duck session, there looms a critical decision about a non-legislative effort to eviscerate the law: Tomorrow is the deadline for the Justice Department to decide whether to appeal an overreaching and irresponsible ruling by a federal judge in California striking down the statute as unconstitutional – even though other courts have repeatedly found to the contrary. Can we count on Attorney General Eric Holder to uphold the law as he is sworn to do?
Yesterday, nonetheless, represented an incredibly important victory for the military, and for those who are determined to keep it focused on what is and must remain its Job #1: Safeguarding our country and its people.