WHAT IS THE PROBLEM WITH ENDING ANOTHER SEXUAL TABOO?

During his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama made a promise.

This year — this year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are. It’s the right thing to do. (from here)

Why is permitting homosexuals the privilege of serving openly in the military “the right thing to do”?  Is “gay” who they are?  Do we now define people by their sex? 

All that was clear from this speech is that Obama wants homosexuals to serve openly in the military.  Nonetheless, with this speech, Obama initiated yet another battle to end a sexual taboo.  Since then the president’s spokesmen have come forth to advocate his cause before Congress.  Thus, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen spoke before a congressional committee, and Mullen called for an end to the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

“No matter how I look at the issue, I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens,” Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate Armed Services Committee. 

As a murmur swept through a hearing room packed with gay rights leaders, Admiral Mullen said it was his personal belief that “allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly would be the right thing to do.” (from here)

Since current law (see here) does not require our military leadership to ask young men and women about their sexual preferences, it is not clear why Mullen thinks the current policy requires homosexuals to lie about who they are.  If a homosexual can keep his or her “sexual identity” a private matter, senior military leaders have already shown they have no inclination to inquire about the matter.

Gates proceeded more cautiously than Mullen, not giving his personal opinion. 

Early in his testimony, Mr. Gates made clear that he was acting at the behest of President Obama, who reaffirmed his opposition to the existing law in his State of the Union address last week. Mr. Gates then threw the final decision back to the legislative branch.

“We have received our orders from the commander in chief, and we are moving out accordingly,” Mr. Gates told the committee. “However, we can also take this process only so far, as the ultimate decision rests with you, the Congress.” (from here)

Would it be wise to allow homosexuals to serve openly in the military?   Is our traditional attitude towards homosexuality more appropriate?  Should we end this taboo?  Given the track record of the people who lead us, probably not.  Let’s consider that record.  First of all, what is a taboo? 

The term “taboo” originated from among the Polynesians and other peoples of the South Pacific.  

If it’s taboo, maybe we shouldn’t discuss it. But we find it the world over, each culture having its own particular version. The English language acquired its taboo in the eighteenth century, from people who would seem least likely to have it, the inhabitants of the South Pacific kingdom of Tonga. The English explorer Captain James Cook, visiting Tonga in 1773 and 1777, received such a welcome that he called these the Friendly Islands. But he also noted that they observed strict prohibitions. In his account of his 1777 visit, Cook wrote: “Not one of them would sit down, or eat a bit of any thing…. On expressing my surprise at this, they were all taboo, as they said; which word has a very comprehensive meaning; but, in general, signifies that a thing is forbidden…. When any thing is forbidden to be eat, or made use of, they say, that it is taboo.”  (from here)

When the Polynesians restricted or banned a practice or object for religious reasons, that practice or object became “taboo.”  In the orderly society that described late 18th century American, taboos were common. We Americans liked the simplicity and directness of “taboo”.  So we adopted it.  We now use “taboo” either as an adjective or a noun.  The adjective describes something that is: “proscribed by society as improper or unacceptable.”  The noun refers to: “a prohibition or interdiction of anything; exclusion from use or practice.” Synonyms include anathema, banned, beyond the pale, disapproved, forbidden, ….  

Apparently some people still consider many sexual practices taboo.  Google the terms taboo and sex together and you will get about 1,400,000 hits, mostly from porn sites.  Since the late 18th century, America has experienced a least a couple of “sexual revolutions.”  One occurred during the 1920′s and another during the 1960′s.  What were the results of these revolutions?  Since these revolutions were “successful,” we saw the relaxation of the relaxation of several sexual taboos. 

  • Dress codes relaxed.  It became more commonplace for women to wear revealing clothing.
  • Companies now make the most blatant use sex to sell their products.  Compare old commericals with their modern counterparts, and that fact becomes obvious.   
  • Porn is now a legal “product” and commonplace. 
  • We can “respectably” call prostitution a “profession.” In fact, some laud prostitution as the oldest profession.
  • Divorce is “acceptable.”   About half of all marriages now end in divorce.
  • Sexual relationships are “acceptable” outside of marriage.  Couples now “hook up” and even live together without marrying.
  • Same-sex relationships are “acceptable.”  The taboos against homosexuality have become so relaxed that we now debate the legalization of same sex “marriage.”
  • Many regard marriage as an outdated institution.

Undoubtedly, we should not countenance some of the attitudes of the late 18th century.  Nonetheless, what cannot be denied is that the 18th century Americans who created this nation were mentally strong and healthy.  Instead of shying away from their troubles, they considered them thoughtfully and calmly.  These Americans solved their problems far more justly and compassionately than any other people of their era. Through their families and their communities, the Americans of the 18 century provided each other strong support.   Because they so highly valued the support they gained from marriage and the family unit, they had strong taboos against anything they regarded as destructive to the family.

Is homosexuality destructive to the family?  Biblical wisdom and common sense suggest that it is.  Except within the context of marriage, Christian teaching forbids sexual relations.  Marriage changes the focus of sexual relations from the immediate pleasure of a one-night stand to lasting love.  This love is necessaryfor a man and a woman to become one.  Joined and unified in marriage, a man and woman provide the safe haven required to birth and rear the next generation.  Same-sex relationships have never served and cannot serve such a purpose.

Because of their Christian heritage, 18th century Americans regarded homosexuality as taboo, and they looked upon those who practice homosexuality with a mixture of scorn and pity. They regarded homosexuals as unable to control their sexual passions.  They saw homosexuals as people who had failed to ask for and accept God aid in overcoming sin. Were they correct in their assessment?  Homosexual rights advocates argue that homosexuality is a genetic anomaly.  Therefore, they argue discrimination against homosexuals is equal to discrimination based upon race or sex.  What is the problem with that argument?  Here are several.

  • We do not know what causes someone to behave as a homosexual. There is currently no way to prove homosexuality is a genetic anomality.  The argument that homosexuality is in the genes is based upon conjecture. Why should we believe it?  Is this not part of the same crowd that demands we believe in global warming? 
  • We can only detect homosexuality as a result of behavior.  What we know is that the behavior of a homosexual is at odds with a homosexual’s sexual organs possesses. So when someone discriminates against homosexual behavior, they discriminate against that behavior, not against a sex or race.  Is discrimination against behavior the same or even similar to discrimination based upon the mere fact of a person’s sex or race?  Even if we assume homosexuality is based upon genetic influences, each of us still has the right to expect others to exercise reasonable control their behavior.  Who decides and how do we decide what is reasonable behavioral control?
  • Human beings have a strong drive for sexual gratification, but good order and discipline requires that military personnel focus on their mission. While on the job, soldiers must set aside their sexual passions. Should soldiers regard each other as objects of gratification, particularly if officers have favorites, their units will not function as effectively.  Yet by their own admission, members of their own sex strongly attract homosexuals.  Doesn’t this admission of “sexual identity” suggest a problem? If a homosexual cannot keep his or her “sexual identity” a private matter, how will that person behave when there is no requirement for privacy?
  • Although the requirement for strict military discipline makes it convenient for would be social engineers, using military personnel for radical social engineering experiments constitutes an abuse of power. Such experiments violate the trust of military members. Nonetheless, the social engineers among do experiment with military personnel.  We are in fact already experimenting with the idea of integrating women into our military forces.  That experiment has already produced notable difficulties and controversy. In light of the difficulties produced by integrating women into our military forces, what is the rush to integrate homosexuals into the military?  What is the material benefit to the military?

To make your opinion known, contact your members of Congress.

What are the blogs saying?

Note:   Wherever there has been a vote on same-sex marriage, the public has made it clear idea is unpopular.  Similarly, the public does not appear to favor homosexuals serving openly in the military.  Thus, when President Bill Clinton took on the issue at the beginning of his administration, he got a black eye.  Nonetheless, as this informal poll of Virginia blogs suggest, the advocates for homosexual “rights” are much more vocal.   If you do not want your voice drowned out, contact the people who represent you. 

Call Your Senators Thursday to Repeal DADT ! represents the view of Michael in Norfolk.  Warning!  You may find some of the photos on Michael’s blog a bit hard to stomach.

If anyone needs to be discharged from the military, it is the homophobes who by their very prejudice fail to support the U.S. Constitution.

If the current administration has its way, we will most likely see Michael’s view become public policy.

In Another who supports DADT repeal, Vivian J. Page makes the comparison with racial discrimination.

Blue Virginia gets a congressional candidate’s view in Exclusive Blue Virginia Interview: Jeff Barnett (D-10th CD).  Blue Virginia also features a video, Video: Jim Webb at “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” Hearing.  Webb appears to be fence sitting.   The other senators in the video, however do give their positions.

In Kenny Golden (Republican candidate in the second district): People in the military are prohibited from having sex., Timothy at Virginia Virtucon finds the military’s policies against fraternization goes well over some people’s heads.

In Queer Eye Joe, Pen and Sword ridicules the opposition to homosexuals in the military.

Below the Beltway notes Colin Powells “gear switch” in Colin Powell Supports Repeal Of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

FYII, Wednesday, February 3, 2010, Part 1 provide the position of ProgressiveDem in favor of homosexuals in the military.  Retaking My Stand on This Issue does the same for now at the podium.

Time To Repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell reflects the opinion of Armchair Generalist.

–Tom Salmon

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