“Standing” is a legal term that applies to lawsuits. Basically, a person does not have the right to seek a court order unless he has been directly affected by a bad law or the acts of the defendant. If a plaintiff lacks standing, his lawsuit will not be heard by the court. It will be thrown out. The President has just made a promise to eliminate “don’t ask – don’t tell” as a policy involving gays serving openly in the military. He and Congress may have the authority to do this, but he and Congress have no standing. With few exceptions, they have never stood in the boots of a combat soldier.
Most young heterosexual American males accept that gays have a right to their lifestyle, but that does not mean they want to mix with them in the close confines of a military living situation. Working with gays in an office environment by day is a lot different than sharing group sanitary and shower facilities and bunks stacked 5 high in the cramped confines of a troop ship for weeks at a time. It is not homophobic to be deeply offended to realize that another man is showing interest in one’s physical attributes with sexual thoughts on the brain. Women hate being leered at and mentally disrobed by men. Straight men feel even stronger about the same behavior emanating from other males.
Young, physically strong males are most adaptable to being made into good fighting men. They must be trained and develop the inner desire, the need even, to close with and destroy the enemy with whatever weapon is at hand. This drive to kill must be stronger than the fear of great harm or even death. Courage in the face of the enemy is backed up by the knowledge that one is a member of a homogenous group experiencing identical feelings along with a total commitment to fight beside and also protect each other.
Physically and mentally there are doubtless some gays who would be willing to pack the loads, live with the misery, fight hard and if necessary, die in the service of their country. It is probable though that they are a minority within a minority. However even one openly gay trooper in a rifle company may be one too many.
In a combat situation, esprit de corps, loyalty, and high morale are paramount. The addition of differences, sexual tensions, and suspicions of ulterior motives among fellow soldiers will sap morale. The superiority belief so necessary to esprit will be diluted by the feeling that some brothers in arms are physically male, but not wired like men. The fear that a gay NCO might spare his fellow gay and order some other private jump a grenade will always be present among the straights.
Political correctness and pressure from gay activists have combined to push the military closer and closer to integrating women and gays into active service. Gays point out that the military was very successfully racially integrated in 1948 and that more and more women are serving honorably in many capacities today. The President and Congress, wanting to please this voting bloc, cultivating support and contributions, are again pressuring military leaders to change present policy.
The Joint Chiefs rose to their positions by pleasing superiors and Congress over the years and can be somewhat wishy washy when it comes to following directions from the President. Yes, the Commander in Chief has direct authority over the military services, and Congress can pass edicts, but strong principled resistance to bad ideas is not generally expected or received from the Joint Chiefs. They got along to get along to rise to their positions. Falling on one’s sword rather than acquiescing to accepting bad ideas is pretty much not their way of life. Admiral Mullin’s testimony on the subject marks him as “Example 1” saying exactly what Congress and the President wanted to hear instead of considering his primary responsibility to subordinates and troops.
The argument put forth that the new policy will lead to more volunteers and help recruiting is probably a canard. The best fighting men we have often come from the ranks of inner city blacks, Hispanics, and southern rural whites. These groups are usually quite conservative in their value systems and many would eschew the opportunity to serve alongside openly gay fellow soldiers. Our military exists to protect our country. It has been said that their primary job is to kill the bad guys and break their stuff. Political correctness, pandering to interest groups, and social experimentation should not interfere with that mission in any way.
There are obviously some fine gays today in our armed forces, but they serve without making their orientation known within the military. This avoids the very real negative consequences discussed above. The President and Congress should command the military, but they must let the generals run it.