Readers debate gays in the military

"The only thing which truly matters: Combat effectiveness"

By Salon Staff

Published June 13, 2000 7:08PM (EDT)

Should gays serve? BY DARYL LINDSEY (06/09/00)

Framing the issue of gays in the military as a civil rights issue is rather silly. The military has long recognized that civil rights must be subordinated to the only thing which truly matters: combat effectiveness. The military routinely discriminates against people who are too fat, too thin, too short, too tall, handicapped, epileptic, retarded, non-high school graduates, non-college graduates, on prescription drugs, have AIDS or hepatitis and numerous other criteria. The reason it can do this is that discrimination based on these criteria is seen as essential to combat effectiveness. The debate should focus on whether or not integrating openly gay people into the military would hamper or hinder combat effectiveness. In the end, a military which is totally egalitarian, but loses battles and wars, the purpose for which it is constituted in the first place, is literally self-defeating.

-- Rob Levinson

In the discussion, Grethe Cammermeyer states that "there has never been a reported case of a homosexual assaulting a heterosexual man." This is patently false. As a retired U.S. Marine judge advocate (lawyer) with 28 years experience, I am aware of a number of such cases. I don't know where she got her data, but it is just plain wrong. The cases I do know of caused a great deal of problems among the Marines or sailors in the units and were very detrimental to morale. On the basis of my experience, I would assume there are numerous cases in the Army, Navy and Air Force, as well the Marines. It is one thing to state one's case, but another to present a total falsehood. Cammermeyer should have realized that her statement could not hold water, and this undermines her integrity on this issue.

-- Jan P. Fladeboe

Saying gays shouldn't be in the military raises an interesting question in the event of a future draft: Should any man who calls himself a homosexual then be allowed an immediate draft exemption? There is no device or test that they could run for this in an induction physical! In the event of a real war, the issue is bogus. That is when men are needed and then I think all able-bodied males should be required to serve, whatever their sexual orientation.

-- Leslie Farkas

"Don't ask, don't tell" doesn't make any sense. Why is it OK for a heterosexual to openly date, marry and disclose their heterosexuality and homosexuals have to hide their relationships? Perhaps what the military needs is an official rule of celibacy -- no one can be openly sexual, regardless of their sexual preferences. (By the way, I'm heterosexual and happily married.)

-- Diana Newago Knoke

Your panel discussion on gays in the military was remarkable in that it did not even mention the experiences of other countries. Canada, for example, successfully integrated gays in the military some years ago, and the UK is now slated to follow the same path. Brigadier General Daniel E. Munro, the director general for personnel policy in the Canadian Forces, was quoted in the Washington Post as saying, "We would not have been able to prove that [homosexuality] had that deleterious effect on cohesion and morale that everyone talked about. Basically, we realized that we didn't have the evidentiary foundation ... It just wasn't there, I mean, you can't use the old cohesion and morale arguments just based on folklore. You have to be able to prove this stuff." If only U.S. military officials could speak with such honesty!

-- Jeffrey Shallit

Alexander the Great was gay so it is easy to see why straights don't want gays in the military. They don't want their asses kicked.

-- Dan Gomez

Salon Staff

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