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Integrity of Don't Ask, Don't Tell

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Who is opposed to the concept of honor? A good definition is provided at Wikipedia, "An honor code or honor system is a set of rules or principles governing a community based on a set of rules or ideals that define what constitutes honorable behavior within that community."

The U.S. Naval Academy mission is "To develop Midshipmen morally, mentally and physically and to imbue them with the highest ideals of duty, honor and loyalty in order to graduate leaders who are dedicated to a career of naval service and have potential for future development in mind and character to assume the highest responsibilities of command, citizenship and government." As my alma mater, I embrace that ideal that it is essential and expected for one to live by the ethical standards at all times.

With Don't Ask, Don't Tell, a paradox for the ethical code was enacted into law in 1993. The institution says lie about who you are and have the opportunity to serve with honor. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mullen, recognized that during the Senate hearing on Don't Ask, Don't Tell. The integrity of the social institution is as important as the integrity of the individual; and in this case, the integrity of the institution forces the individual to lose the quality of being honest and morally upright. The entire hearing can be found at:

http://www.c-spanvideo.org/videoLibrary/

In the Senate hearing Sen. Sessions commented, "I don't think they are required to lie about who they are." He seems to think that the idea of the deliberate act of deviating from the truth is over stated. Sen. Chambliss iterated the so-called findings on the 1993 law, known as Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and was particularly interested in the finding that "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."

His view is that these findings are sacrosanct. With that, the very presence of a homosexual in the Armed Forces places the military at risk, for what homosexual by definition would not have the propensity or intent to engage in a homosexual act? Sen. Wicker cites a letter sent to the President by over 1,000 retired flag officers "expressing their concern that lifting the ban would undermine recruiting and retention." He stated that there were now over 1160 such flag officer endorsements. Does he fail to read such reports as the 1957 DoD Crittenden Report, the 1988 Defense Personnel Security Research and Education Center (PERSEREC) Report, the 1999 PERSEREC Report, or the 1993 DoD RAND Report? All of these reports state there is no threat to the military and that gays are as fit to serve as any American. These reports go on to state that a successful integration of openly gay personnel into the services can be attained without detriment.


Most disturbing were the opening remarks of Sen. McCain. He believes that the policy and law of Don't Ask, Don't Tell has been successful since 1993 and that any change in law would be yet another challenge to the already stressed and strained military. Sen. McCain's citing of the "findings" of the 1993 law and the over 1000 flag officers' letter have shown that Don't Ask, Don't Tell "is working." How can Sen. John McCain say "I honor their [gay and lesbian] sacrifice and I honor them [gays and lesbians]" and then support a law that defines honorable behavior as being forced to lie?

Those so-called findings have no basis in fact concerning reasons for which a homosexual should be excluded from service in the Armed Forces. Yes, privacy in the military is a condition in which the forced intimacy imposes. Yes, restrictions on personal conduct that are not tolerated in the civilian society are imposed. Yes, threats and risks to good order and moral, unit cohesion, and discipline can be restricted.

But what has this to do with the lack of integrity not only for the individual but for the institution that it imposes with the law of Don't Ask, Don't Tell? Nothing.

So who is opposed to the concept of honor? It certainly is not any of the estimated 66,000 gay and lesbians currently on active duty who are forced by law to lie about who they are.

 

After 26 years retiring from the Navy, then another 14 years as a psychotherapist retiring again, I have finally found time to be more active.

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