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The Case Against Gays in the Military

The WaPo headline reads "At war, quiet support for openly gay troops," with a subhead "Tolerance rises with new generation of officers," and would seem to signal a story advocating an end to the ban.  In fact, the account, datelined Baghdad, presents argiuments quite to the contrary.  Mac and others (with update here) are right that the ban helps preserve military discipline.  The response is, we know of gay soldiers who are superb at their job. 

But this response, however truthful, does not answer the objection.  The WaPo story provides further evidence to the contrary.  What happens in the army with high-achieving gay soldiers is what happens with high achievers in any profession who have significant flaws:  People cover up for it or look the other way.  One officer whose "gaydar went off the screen" concerning one soldier under his command:  "I don't think his orientation became an issue, because he maintained a professional appearance and performed like any other soldier." 

A senior commander objected, "Are we all going to have to submit to annual gay sensitivity training?"  (A Russian emigre who underwent racial sensitivity training at a military base described it as like "life under the Soviet Union.")

Moreover, the WaPo story cites a 2006 Zogby poll concluding that only 26% of the military supported lifting the ban.

Finally, the sentiment about rights or being allowed to be yourself completely misses the key military discipline argument:  In the military, contrary to prevailing societal norms, service always comes before self (duty before rights).  That drab uniform is a symbol and a reality of conformity, anti-individualism, and professionalism.  That is why the Army retained that professional soldier, who was gay. 

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