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1982-96, Fidelity magazine was the predecessor of Culture Wars.
From the October, 1993 issue of Fidelity magazine
From the October, 1993 issue of Fidelity magazine
“I cannot, in conscience, serve under a Commander-in-Chief who appears determined to undermine morale, good order, and discipline by forcing the military services to accept avowed homosexuals.” With these words, in response to Bill Clinton’s proposal to lift the 150-year-old ban against homosexuals in the military, I ended my 26-year Navy career. In the Pentagon where I worked other career officers were reportedly doing the same, but it is unlikely that the Department of Defense (DoD) will reveal the number who ultimately vote with their feet over the divisive issue of homosexuals in uniform. The “down-sizing” frenzy which has consumed the Pentagon will obscure the exodus because there is already an excess of personnel for the shrinking number of ships, aircraft, tanks and divisions. The homosexual controversy has affected entering personnel as well. In the wake of Mr. Clinton’s announced intention to lift the ban, the Army—which for years had accepted only high school graduates—had to lower standards and choose sixteen percent of its recruits from those who had failed to graduate. The words of the Deputy Chaplain for the Marine Corps, Father Eugene Gomulka, may prove prophetic: “I seriously question that there are sufficient numbers of clergy and recruits from those few religious bodies that condone homosexual conduct to man an all volunteer force.”
Some three weeks after requesting voluntary retirement, I joined several dozen protesters in a counter demonstration to the April "Gay Rights March" on Washington D.C. Hyped by a sympathetic media as the largest "civil rights" march ever to descend on the nation’s capital (forecasts rose to over a million), the event fizzled into a crude sexual carnival drawing no more than 100,000, many of them stunned tourists and party-seeking youths. Most of the Marches for Life which I have attended seemed larger. Our small contingent was led by veteran protester Eugene Del Gaudlo, President of the anti-’gay-rights’ Public Advocate, which had secured one of only two official permits for counter demonstrations. The other was issued to Transformation Ministries, an evangelical Christian group of former homosexuals who have led thousands of men and women out of that destructive ‘life-style.’ We took up positions behind large banners which proclaimed: “Protect Our Privates! Armed Forces Forever Straight,” “Sodomy Free Zone,” and “We Don’t Like Clinton And His Homosexuals.” A car of Park Police sat nearby and the officers chuckled at our banners, surreptitiously accepting several “Protect Our Privates” bumper stickers. “We play softball with the Army,” one of them explained.
The marchers’ reaction to our banners was a mixture of rage, blasphemy and in-your-face lewdness which was intended to shock and intimidate. It was effective. We empathized with the bewildered Japanese tourists, cameras dangling from their necks, in obvious culture shock. Bare breasts, scanty clothing, and same-sex embraces were common, often displayed for our benefit. Blasphemous signs proclaiming “Jesus Was Gay” (and worse) were waved in our faces, and a lesbian martial arts group chopped and kicked the air in unison, personifyring “gay power.” While some of the antics were mildly amusing, we were saddened by the numbers of young people caught up in the frenzy. Many were nearly naked or dressed in drag. Adrift in today’s moral relativism and sexual confusion, they are sitting ducks for adult homosexuals. It was recently reported in the Washington Post that, at Washington-area high schools and junior high schools, “being bisexual seems to be the thing” as kids sport pink ribbons and kiss members of the same sex in the hallways. One confused 18-year-old boy confessed: “Someone asked me what my sexual orientation was, and I found myself rather unable to tell them. I had just gone along assuming I’m heterosexual. Then I sat down to think about it and realized I could go either way.” I found myself wondering how many of these young marchers would end up as panels on a future AIDS quilt. Where, I wondered also, is the Church? Shouldn’t the Archdiocese of Washington—or the National Council of Catholic Bishops, whose multi-million-dollar headquarters was only a stone’s throw away—try to reach these kids with the light of Truth? How about a booth manned by Courage (the Catholic analog to Transformation Ministries)? Or a few, straight, young, orthodox priests and nuns to answer the hundreds of homosexuals who sported religious garb in mockery of the Church and her teachings—not to mention the genuine priests and nuns who proudly marched as homosexual sympathizers?
Back in the Pentagon, death-row humor proliferated (‘The Ballad of the Queen Berets” was composed, and the new meaning of “close order drill” debated) amidst hopes that at least one of the Service Chiefs would threaten to resign rather than yield to administration pressures. Generals Gordon Sullivan, U.S. Army, and Carl Mundy, U.S. Marine Corps, offered the most determined resistance to love in the trenches, but both actively discouraged resignations in their Services. Admiral Frank Kelso, Chief of Naval Operations, shook the solidarity of the Joint Chiefs when he “emerged as the leading proponent for women in combat,” advocating their service even on submarines, and undermining the tougher stances of the Army and Air Force Chiefs who opposed women in infantry, armor, artillery, and combat aviation units. While many in the Pentagon quietly accused Kelso of “caving in to political pressure over Tailhook,” an approving media found him “compassionate [and] surprisingly progressive.” George Bush’s Navy Secretary, Sean O’Keefe, a Catholic, crooned: “By all rights [Kelso] should be a stick in the mud. [but] he’s an enlightened nuke” (i.e., nuclear submariner). The Air Force Chief of Staff, General Merrill McPeak, at first hinted at resignation but then, seeing himself as a possible successor to Cohn Powell as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, began to back-pedal. He subtly criticized the Navy’s cool reception for the President aboard the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt, calling upon his Air Force to fly in “tight formation” with the Commander-In-Chief. When the Washington Times reported that the “Joint Chiefs’ split imperils gay-ban deal,” General MePeak was listed as supporting “one of two more liberal options” for modi1~ring the ban, dispelling any hopes that he might put his four stars on the line. General Powell, too, softened his opposition, leading his colleagues down the slippery slope of compromise. Powell had complained early on that: “Skin color is a benign, non-behavioral characteristic. Sexual orientation is perhaps the most profound of human characteristics. Comparison of the two is a convenient but invalid argument.” He told Naval Academy midshipmen that if lifting the ban “strikes to the heart of your moral beliefs, then I think you have to resign,” leading some to speculate that he might choose that course of action. However Powell’s commencement remarks at Harvard in June were more conciliatory, and by July a Pentagon insider observed: “Powell is trying to retain his reputation and his standing in history. . . He does not want to be known as the chairman who crossed swords with his commander in chief.”
A resignation by any of the Chiefs could have stopped the negotiations dead in the water. Like George Bush during his failed bid for the presidency, the Joint Chiefs seemed to lack the conviction to take a stand, allowing the press and the omnipresent Washington staffers to wear them down. When, in 1934, President Franklin Roosevelt announced plans to slash the Army budget by 51%, then Chief of Staff, General Douglas MacArthur, along with Secretary of War George Dern, asked to meet with FDR, whom MacArthur dubbed “the leading liberal of the age.” MacArthur describes the encounter in his biography Reminiscences. With few modifications, MacArthur’s words would apply to the homosexual threat to today’s Army:
I felt it my duty to take up the cudgels. The country’s safety was at stake, and I said so bluntly. The President turned the full vials of his sarcasm upon me. He was a scorcher when aroused. The tension began to boil over. For the third and last time in my life that paralyzing nausea began to creep over me. In my emotional exhaustion, I spoke recklessly and said something to the general effect that when we lost the next war, and an American boy, lying in the mud with an enemy bayonet through his belly and an enemy foot on his dying throat, spat out his last curse, I wanted the name not to be MacArthur, but Roosevelt. The President grew livid. “You must not talk that way to the President!” he roared. He was, of course, right, and I knew it almost before the words had left my mouth. I said that I was sorry and apologized. But I felt my Army career was at an end. I told him he had my resignation as Chief of Staff. As I reached the door his voice came with that cool detachment which so reflected his extraordinary self control, “Don’t be foolish, Douglas; you and the budget must get together on this.” Dern had shortly reached my side and I could hear his gleeful tones, “You’ve saved the Army.” But I just vomited on the steps of the White House.
Mid-level officers like myself—Captains and Commanders, Colonels and Lieutenant Colonels— harbored no illusions: our resignations would generate no ripples in Les Aspin’s Defense Department, and little printers ink would be wasted on them in the prohomosexual press. Although many of us would separate sooner than planned, our sacrifices are small since most have met minimum retirement requirements. A courageous exception is forty-year-old Marine Major Charles Johnson— decorated combat veteran, father of three, Ph.D. in philosophy, and devout Catholic—who resigned his commission in July with eighteen years of service and no retirement pension. "The new interim policy on homosexuals serving in the military constitutes an illegal order,” he said. “I therefore tender my resignation at the government’s earliest convenience.” He went on to tell the Washington Times that lifting the ban “is one of the few things I can think of that would strike at the core of faith within the infantry squad.” In 1983, then-Captain Johnson, alone and armed only with a pistol, backed down three Israeli tanks trying to force their way into a sector controlled by U.S. Marines in Beirut. In July of this year, he testified before Senator Sam Nunn’s Armed Services Committee, after the much heralded “don’t ask-don’t tell compromise” was unveiled, that forcing military officers and NCOs to “normalize” homosexual behavior would undermine moral credibility with their men.
Former Marine Corps Commandant, General Robert Barrow, explained that there is “a very nearly universal disapproval of homosexuals in the military service within the Marine Corps,” which has a strong Catholic tradition (nearly one in three Marines identifies himself as a Catholic). In the Second Marine Division at Camp Lejeune all 26 chaplains, representing 17 different faith groups, signed a Statement on Homosexuality which alludes to “Judeo-Christian tradition” and Scripture, declaring that: “Homosexuality is a deplorable misuse of God’s gift of sexuality.” General Barrow called lifting the ban “one of the cruelest, most ill-advised, despicable acts perpetrated on an institution that has a certain purity to it.” In the January 1993 issue of the Marine Corps Gazette—in which every article has the tacit approval of the Commandant—Major Arthur Corbett wrote:
“It would be better to disband [the Corps] ...than see it dishonored and its virtues and values destroyed. The young officers who attempt to explain how homosexuality is an ‘alternate’ instead of deviate life-style will quickly lose the respect of their Marines and a bit of their own honor in the process.” Although the Pentagon claims not to keep official records of those separating over the homosexual issue, unofficial expectations are that the number will be high, especially in the Marine Corps. At my own retirement interview I complained that the Navy’s separation questionnaire restricted my reasons for separating to a predetermined laundry list of generalities; lifting the ban was not one of them and there was no provision for write-ins. The petty officer conducting the interview said that many of those retiring or resigning had echoed my complaint, and that he, too, would not “ship over” if he had to bunk with avowed homosexuals.
In his remarks to the House Armed Services Committee which he formerly chaired, Mr. Aspin made it clear that he intended to help Mr. Clinton pay his campaign debt to the homosexual community: ‘The men and women in today’s Armed Services are among the finest to have ever served,” he said. “We must deal fairly with those leaving as well as those staying in the force.. . We must also assure that no one with a contribution to make is denied an opportunity for inappropriate reasons.” Clinton and company immediately launched their campaign to turn a political promise to one percent of the nation into a burning social issue.’ Faced with a myriad of fundamental policy issues confronting the DoD—size and composition of forces, roles and missions of the Services, implications of the collapse of the Soviet Union, proliferating global hot spots and weapons of destruction— how can anyone justil~r the countless hours spent in divisive wrangling in the Pentagon, the White House and the Congress to change a policy that not only worked well, but had been upheld by the courts in 12 major lawsuits? The answer is clearly the political clout of well organized, well financed, homosexuals groups which had made inroads into even the Bush White House. Some activists claim that over $5 million in Clinton/Gore campaign contributions were raised by homosexual supporters, who tend to be well educated and financially secure. The Wall Street Journal reported that 60% of homosexuals are college graduates, 49% hold professional or managerial positions, with the average homosexual ‘household’ income at $55,430 (the national averages are 18%, 16% and $32,144, respectively). Hardly the profile of a victimized minority.
However, many observers, like liberal columnist William Raspberry, felt that Mr. Clinton may have tripped upon a “larger fear that lurks just beyond our ability to define it—a sense that we may be about to release some deadly cultural genie;” and that this genie is dressed in drag. Another prominent black columnist declared himself a “heterosexist,” concluding that “the discomfort many Americans feel stems from qualms about where this will all lead, especially given the fact that gays. . . have their own lunatic fringe.” Congressman Bob Dornan, the first lawmaker to introduce legislation to codilly the ban into law, was characteristically more blunt, noting that Mr. Clinton “didn’t for a minute realize what he was doing in the campaign when he said, ‘I have a vision for America, and you’re part of it’ to the sodomy community in Los Angeles. This guy didn’t have a clue why this issue was important to middle America.” And middle America responded by placing 385,000 phone calls—overwhelmingly opposed to lifting the ban—in two days to beleaguered Washington switchboards. A day of heavy calling to the White House and the Congress usually sees 80,000 calls. Senator John Warner, Virginia Republican and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, received 1700 calls opposing the policy change and only 56 supporting it. The Washington Post branded the callers “poor, uneducated, and easy to control,” attempting to dismiss the avalanche as a campaign orchestrated by radio talk show hosts like Rush Limbaugh. The public response was spontaneous, however, and the Post offered a half-hearted apology. The Family Research Council’s Gary Bauer warned that: “Bill Clinton. . . has begun a domestic Vietnam. And this is one conflict he will not evade.” Chaplain Gomulka correctly perceived “a moral and cultural rejection of homosexual conduct,” adding that “any attempt at eradicating 4,000 years of wisdom regarding society’s judgment on such conduct will be no more successful than a recent presidential executive order to have military personnel participate in the abortion of unborn children.”
Washington newspapers chronicled the secrecy and repression surrounding the crafting of the new administration’s homosexual policy by a task force, headed by Aspin colleague Rudy DeLeon, comprising forty-six civilian and military personnel from the Department. The task force’s direction was to determine how, not whether, to lift the ban. Veterans groups and pro-ban forces repeatedly complained that they had no access to DeLeon’s committee, while homosexual advocates found an open door. When Navy Lieutenant David Quint spoke on the Christian Broadcasting Network against lifting the ban, he was issued “a memorandum of orders severely restricting his freedom to speak out on the issue” and a subsequent letter from his boss threatened disciplinary action. Congressman Bob Dornan came to Lt. Quint’s defense on the House floor, urging other military members to voice their opinions. Ironically, Lt. Quint had been a roommate to Midshipman Joe Steffan who was dismissed from the Naval Academy six weeks before graduation for ‘coming out of the closet.’ Steffan unsuccessfully sought to overturn the homosexual ban in Steffan v. Cheney, subsequently telling his story in his book Honor Bound. An office mate of Lt. Quint quipped that Quint should counter with his own book Honor Bound and Gagged.
The most outspoken (and persecuted) active-duty advocate of the ban was Major Melissa Wells-Petry of the Army’s Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps. Assigned to Washington, Major Wells-Petry—one of the Army’s foremost legal experts on the ban which she had defended in court—maintained, on her own time, an aggressive schedule of appearances and speeches in the ban’s defense. In April, she published what is probably the most comprehensive study of the question of homosexuals in the armed forces, Exclusion: Homosexuals and the Right to Serve. The book catapulted her to high visibility interviews on programs such as Good Morning America, Nightline, and Today. Mr. DeLeon was apparently not pleased. He summoned her to his office, ostensibly to be briefed on the details of Exclusion, and rather forcefully “informed Maj. Wells-Petry—in the presence of the task force’s three-star chief, Air Force Lt. Gen. Robert Alexander—that her actions were ‘not helpful’ to the Clinton Administration.” After the episode was reported in the press, a Pentagon spokesman was quick to assure the uniformed military that they were free to express personal opinions, even to the media, as long as they were identified as such. Still, the incident sent a chill through the 17.5 miles of Pentagon hallways. The day after the Commander-in-Chief announced his “don’t ask-don’t tell” assault on his armed forces, Major WellsPetry was to join Congressman Bob Doman on the Rush Limbaugh Show. When she did not appear Doman explained that she had been “muzzled” yet again, forbidden to comment on the ‘compromise’ which she had earlier denounced as “old policy, dressed in drag.”
When the Defense Readiness Council (DRC)— a pro-ban organization of retired flag and general officers—petitioned the Army under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act for data on homosexual crimes by soldiers, Colonel Richard Black, chief of the JAG’s criminal law division, complied with the FOI request. The details of 102 homosexual crimes by Army personnel (100 males and 2 females) are as shocking as they are disgusting to read. The DRC sent copies to every member of Congress, and the Washznqton Times published the data in detail. Two-thirds of the crimes occurred on base, most in barracks, latrines and showers; a whopping 84% were forced upon nonconsenting victims; 49 (47%) of the crimes were committed against children—about half of those against the perpetrators’ own children, and the other half against the children of others; five of the homosexual soldiers were HIV positive; many of the victims were young soldiers who were drunk, asleep or otherwise vulnerable; 62% were committed by senior personnel against more junior victims; violence and weapons were employed in one-fifth of the cases. The Army’s study concluded that “it appears the crime rate among homosexuals may be substantially higher than among the military population at large,” noting that while the Army’s overall sex crime rate is 0.50 per thousand soldiers per year. and its nonsex crime rate 1.95 per thousand, the homosexual crime rate is a staggering 5.40 per thousand soldiers per year. And these ‘crimes’ do not include other “homosexual offenses [which] are not prosecuted absent unusual aggravating circumstances.” Although difficult to read, it is worth reporting the synopsis of just one of the 102 separation cases:
In 1988 and 1989, SGT [sergeant] was a Boy Scoutmaster at Fort Hood, Texas. SGT committed oral and anal sodomy on Boy Scouts aged 9 to 12 years. SGT used leather straps, dog collars, a dildo, and a dildo attached to the end of a policeman’s night stick in the performance of these acts. SGT videotaped these acts. These acts lasted between 30 and 50 minutes. These acts included SGT anally sodomizing a boy as the child screamed, “Oh God, please stop. You’re hurting me. Please, please, stop.” SGT stuck [his] penis in this boy’s rectum six times in a ten minute period. SGT told this boy to “Relax.”
The Army’s data angered homosexuals because it shattered the myth of ‘witch hunts,’ and exposed the predatory and violent character of homosexual conduct. Following complaints from Secretary Aspin’s office, the Army’s Inspector General launched an investigation into “the facts surrounding the release of Army information outside the Department of the Army.” The Freedom of Information Act was, of course, enacted to enable the public to obtain such unclassified data from publicly funded institutions such as the U.S. Army. Similar data from the Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force has not been formally released, yet two homosexual assault trials of sailors in the Navy town of Jacksonville indicate that the Army’s problems are not unique. In May an airman apprentice was convicted of sexually assaulting a shipmate aboard the aircraft carrier Saratoga, and in June a second-class petty officer was found guilty on two counts of forcibly sodomizing an 18-year-old drunken sailor who worked for him. Those alleging persecution of homosexuals in the military ignore what the legal record clearly shows: most homosexuals are discharged not for orientation, but rather for conduct, which is often directed toward unwilling victims. This conduct, I believe, stems from the extraordinary promiscuity of homosexual men and their preoccupation with homosexual sex. As one homosexual put it: “Sex is to gays what sports are to straight men.” Reliable studies conclude that a male homosexual has sex with from 500 to 1200 partners in his lifetime, and as many as one-third of those are via anonymous encounters in ‘bath houses’ and men’s rooms. The alleged homosexual witch hunts—sadly never denounced as fabrication by any of the Service Chiefs—are unsubstantiated in fact. A review of Navy cases aboard the USS Blue Ridge and USS Independence shows that no action was taken when homosexual conduct could not be proven. And, when the conduct was consensual, not aboard ship or military installation, and not committed in public, the perpetrators were honorably discharged.
It is essential to understand the Pentagon into which Bill Clinton rolled his homosexual hand grenade. Just fifteen years ago one would have found the Five-Sided Fort peopled largely with military men. Even the career civil servants were of a military mien. There was a great sense of awareness and concern for the soldier, sailor, airman and marine who might be called to face an enemy at any moment. There was great empathy for the business end of war because many of those in ‘The Building” had been there. Things are vastly different today. Military officers have been steadily edged out by civil servants, super-grade (Senior Executive Service) civilians, and over one hundred political appointees. Once a tiny staff, the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) has steadily grown in size and power—at the expense of the Services— especially under Presidents Carter, Reagan and Bush. In today’s DoD Telephone Directory, for example, OSD occupies nearly seven pages, and “Defense Agencies,” many directly controlled by OSD, occupy another 32. In contrast, the entire Marine Corps takes up only nine pages, and the Air Force 21. A Pentagon wit once quipped: “We never lost a war until we had OSD.”
The Goldwater-Nichols Defense Reorganization Act (1986) restructured the DoD under the leadership of the National Command Authority (President, Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs) to enhance joint-service warfighting effectiveness via the Unified Commanders-In-Chief (CINCs) around the world (General H. Norman Schwarzkopf of Desert Storm fame, for example, was CINCCENT). Fueled by Goldwater-Nichols, OSD consumes a growing portion of DoD assets, directly controlling powerful programs such as the former Strategic Defense Initiative Organization, and major agencies like the Defense Intelligence Agency. As the roles of the Service Chiefs diminish— they are merely logisticlans during war—and the DoD bureaucracy burgeons, the chasm widens between the inside-the-beltway elite and the troops in the field. Today’s Pentagon workday is a flurry of policy papers, ‘hot issues’ and political posturing, which, increasingly, have little to do with the matters of war. Field commanders express their frustration with Washington bureaucrats who neither understand, nor are particularly concerned about, their real-world problems. Controversial policies—homosexuals in fox holes or women in tents—which have far-reaching effects on the man in the trench are released as “trial balloons” to be debated and formulated in the national media. In the angry words of naval aviator Rolando Diaz, facing a court-martial for embellished allegations from the 1991 Tailhook Convention: “The warriors are dead; the politicians have taken over.”
Admirals and generals are ill equipped to do battle in today’s Pentagon. Most view the political maneuvering and subterfuge with disdain and disgust. Trained to adhere to a chain of command which is routinely subverted, and torn by loyalty to civilian leaders who are largely political animals, they are fish out of water and easy game for the ruthless staffer and op-ed-page pundit. Hammered by the national press and wearied by the months of haggling and maneuvering, the Joint Chiefs were on hand in July to welcome Mr. Clinton and his “don’t ask-don’t tell” policy with a standing ovation at the National Defense University. It was a sad sight for many of us in uniform. Not a single Chief withheld his applause from a policy which will ignite new legal battles in courtrooms across the nation. Homosexuals too showed their displeasure by marching, scuffling with police and denouncing the President. “Betrayed By Bill” and ‘They Will Promise Anything To Get Our Vote” were among the many signs which could have been appropriately carried by Haitian refugees, middle class tax payers, or Bosnian sympathizers. The Lesbian Avengers warned: “Clinton doesn’t want to experience the wrath of unbridled lesbian anger.” I suspect that women in uniform do not want to experience it either. Those who had fought the ban denounced the new policy as “military muddle, Clinton style.” Former Navy pilot (now Senator) John McCain declared it “a large, large lawyers’ relief fund,” and the American Civil Liberties Union proved him right by promptly suing Aspin on behalf of seven homosexual service members. The Pentagon’s top lawyer revealed the depth of the muddle by announcing that the DoD would publish “an extensive field guide to help commanders judge whether to investigate someone for homosexuality.” Mr. Clinton was apparently exercising the same leadership style he had practiced in the spotted owl controversy: make all parties angry, except the lawyers. One could call it shuffling to the mushy middle.
Except for the Catholic Military Vicar, Archbishop Joseph Dimino, and a few courageous priests like Marine Chaplain Eugene Gomulka, the American Church was nearly silent through the entire debate. My own bishop, the Most Reverend John Keating of Arlington—whose diocese includes the Pentagon, Arlington National Cemetery, several major military installations, and perhaps the highest concentration of active-duty and retired military personnel in the country—uttered not a word of concern for the many military families in his flock. Proabortion/prohomosexual ‘Catholic’ politicians (e.g., Senator Ted Kennedy, Congressman Jim Moran and Congresswoman Leslie Byrne) regularly receive Communion in Bishop Keating’s diocese while his bureaucrats assure those of us who complain that the Bishop is “working behind the scenes.” Archbishop Dimino twice wrote to the President, expressing his opposition to lifting the ban, and then issued a statement “to provide our Catholic chaplains with a clarification of our position,” which relied, faithfully, upon the document Issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, On the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons (1986). The archbishop’s statement reaffirmed “the consistent Catholic moral teaching on human sexuality...the right and concomitant obligation of every person to strive to live virtuously in pusuit of eternal happiness...[and] the innate value of all persons.” He opposed lifting the ban because it would subject those in close living quarters to “undue temptation against chastity” and because “homosexual orientation is in itself an objective disorder . . [which] is in itself not sinful, but may not be used to justify homosexual activity which is sinful.”
Meanwhile, on what Rush Limbaugh would term “the Left Coast,” Roger Cardinal Mahoney waded into the turbulent debate and, in his characteristic fashion, muddied the waters. A February article in the Los Angeles Times quoted the Cardinal’s remarks, which were clearly at odds with the Vatican and Archbishop Dimino, especially his advocacy of homosexuals serving “in limited situations . . . [such as] military hospitals.” In response to angry letters from myself and other service members, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles provided a “Statement on Homosexual and Lesbian Persons in the Military,” which was intended to clarify his position; nearly every one of the statement’s fifteen paragraphs contained statements which stood in direct contradiction to guidance from the Vatican or the Military Vicar. His Eminence claimed, for example, that the Catholic Church has “consistently spoken against discrimination against anyone, including persons who are homosexual,” when, in fact, the Vatican had stated:
There are areas in which it is not unjust discrimination to take sexual orientation into account, for example, ... in military recruitment,” adding that the rights of homosexuals “are not absolute. They can be legitimately limited for objectively disordered external conduct.” The Vatican had warned that “it is inappropriate for Church authorities to endorse or remain neutral toward adverse [i.e., prohomosexual] legislation,” but the Cardinal was trying to assume a comfortably neutral stance by being on all sides of the issue. His Eminence seemed to be in a foot race with the President for the mushy middle, and like Mr. Clinton, he drew scorn from all sides.
Widespread pedophilia and sexual misconduct by priests (and not a few bishops) has certainly undermined the moral high ground on which the Church in America once stood. As any reader of conservative Catholic publications can attest the influence of homosexual and prohomosexual priests and nuns in our chancellories, seminaries, universities and religious orders have made ‘gay power a reality inside the American Church. The armed forces, in fact, would do well to study the systematic and successful feminist/homosexual assault on the Catholic Church to understand the tactics and consequences of infiltration. In a 1987 Commonweal article, Father Richard MeBrien, notorious dissenter, pope-basher and then-chairman of Notre Dame’s theology department, posed thirty-nine surprisingly frank questions, among them:
What impact does the presence of a large number of gay seminarians have on the spiritual tone and moral atmosphere of our seminaries? . . . How many heterosexual seminarians have decided to leave the seminary and abandon their interest in a presbyterial vocation because of the presence of significant numbers of gays in seminaries and among the local clergy? . . . Do homosexual bishops give preference, consciously or not, to gay candidates for choice pastorates?
In a subsequent Atlantic Monthly interview, McBrien went on to say:
I hear about it too often from the seminary people I know, . . . How heterosexual males are being forced out, discouraged by the excessive number of homosexuals in the seminary. It was always there; we knew guys who were gay in my day. But today the balance is being tipped in their favor. Claiming celibacy is a wonderful cover for gays, and let’s face it, the seminary presents a marvelous arena of opportunity for them.
Even soft-porn novelist Father Andrew Greeley has assailed the “lavender rectories.” A 1984 questionnaire for Catholic seminarians found in 1984 that 50% agreed with the statement: “The male body sometimes attracts me.” Only 35% of the seminarians found that statement true in 1969.
The natural male role of protector is under attack in the military in the same way that the maleness of the priest, as he functions in persona Christi in the Mass, is under assault in the Church, and it is not coincidental that the advocates of women in combat ardently support the homosexual cause. The same coalition of feminists and homosexuals is evident in the growing number of aggressive homosexuals who ‘defend’ the nation’s abortuaries against prolife demonstrators and rescuers. Feminists and homosexuals share a common contempt for the traditional male nature, viewing it as a mask for oppression rather than an element of the Natural Law. Their tactics include disrupting rational argument with a blitz of spurious ‘rights,’ while making male authority figures uncomfortable with both their maleness and the exercise of their authority. Just as our American bishops were embarrassed into nearly endorsing a women’s pastoral letter which is, at best, antithetical to Catholic teaching, so too have our military leaders been made to negotiate with homosexual activists, and accept women in combat, by being cast as patriarchal persecutors of homosexuals and women.
The target of opportunity for advocates of women warriors was the Navy’s Tailhook Convention—the annual gathering of macho, Top Gun, male carrier pilots. (It should be noted that prior to 1991 the word “tailhook” had no sexual connotations, but refen-ed instead to the massive hook on the tail of carrier-based aircraft. This device is necessary to trap aircraft which must decelerate from 150 mph to a full stop in a few hundred feet of carrier deck.) The Tailhook Convention in Las Vegas was a largely professional gathering of present and former naval aviators, defense contractors who make naval aircraft and associated systems, and Navy dignitaries such as the Secretary of the Navy. Significant achievements in naval aviation were recognized, flight safety awards presented, tactics discussed, new planes and aviation systems revealed—and, yes, raucous revelry invariably occurred. The allegations of sexual assault against 83 women, which have been relentlessly reported as front-page news for the past two years, led to the resignation of Navy Secretary H. Lawrence Garrett, the dismissal of several admirals, and charges against 120 naval officers and 20 Marines. Little coverage was given to counter charges that many of the women were repeat performers from previous conventions and therefore neither victims nor vestal virgins. Anyone who has ever been at “happy hour” at a naval air station officers club—or for that matter watched Top Gun or An Officer and a Gentleman—has seen the fighter-pilot groupies who, for whatever reasons, seek out aviators. As Wilt Chamberlain and Magic Johnson can attest, a similar phenomenon occurs at NBA locker rooms.
When the Navy’s Inspector General (IG) conducted a careful investigation, attempting to adhere to fact and due process in pursuing the sexual misconduct allegations, he was castigated and promptly dismissed. A new Navy Secretary brought new and more zealous investigations during which defendants alleged that facts were distorted, witnesses were encouraged to lie, and pilots were asked bizarre questions such as “Do you masturbate?” The facts began to emerge, however, as the first Tailhook court-martial convened. The Washington Times reported that a female lieutenant— who, unlike defendant Lt. Cole Cowden, was not identified—claimed to have been sexually assaulted then, under oath, admitted that: “The description I gave was embellished.. . I tried to make it sound very bad.” It seems her actions were consensual, and “six officers had identified her as taking part in. . . leg shavings and ‘belly shots”’ in which men drank alcohol from her navel. Lt. Cowden’s defense attorney, a Coast Guard officer, expressed dismay with the fact that the IG would proceed with ‘evidence’ it knew to be false, adding: “I think Tailhook is a mountain out of molehill from what I have seen. There certainly was misconduct there, but I think it’s been blown out of proportion and I think the Navy is overreacting with these prosecutions.” At this writing the Navy has reportedly decided to press ahead with Cowden’s court-martial despite the flimsy evidence, taking “a quantum leap from reality to fanatic prosecution,” as one defense attorney put it. ‘They have to get some convictions out of this,” he added.
Observers of the second Tailhook court-martial, in which Navy Lt. Rolando Diaz “is charged with conduct unbecoming an officer” for shaving the legs of civilian and military women in his hotel suite, accused the Navy of “selective prosecution” of only the male flyers. Although “many women’s legs” were shaved at the convention, only “Lt. Diaz is being charged in a leg shaving incident because the government would have to charge the women who received the shaves as well as the men who did them.” Lt. Diaz’s shavings were considered particularly grievous “because he allegedly shaved two women’s legs near the pubic area,” yet surely all those female officers who consented to leg shavings also engaged in “conduct unbecoming an officer.” An estimated 50 women had their legs shaved during the convention, and one woman “pulled off her shorts and requested a bikini cut.” Yet, no female officers have been charged. The “government’s star witness,” Lt. Paula Coughlin, who regularly appeared on national television to blast Tailhook and the Navy—personally telling her story to a sympathetic President and Mrs. Bush—was accused by Lt. Diaz “as willingly participating in the same misconduct for which [male] Navy flyers have been criticized.” Diaz claims to have shaved Coughlin’s legs twice, once while she was in uniform, substantiating his claim with eye witnesses and his squadron poster, which Paula Coughlin signed with: “You made me see God. The Paulster.” Apparently the event was more of a religious experience than a sexual assault, at least at that moment. Lt. Diaz further asserted that: “None of the women complained. Lt. Coughlin lied to the investigators . . . [The IG] had evidence, they covered it up.” The Navy has yet to charge anyone with Coughlin’s sexual assault. Diaz observed that if the DoD IG “cared about the truth, my charge sheet should read as follows: ‘Lt. Diaz is charged with conduct unbecoming a naval officer because we failed to find anyone who assaulted Paula Coughlin.”’ Damn the evidence, full speed ahead!
In Tailhook the powerful new weapon of feminism, "sexual harassment,” was wielded against the Navy and the DoD, and then delivered into the willing hands of government investigators and prosecutors. The tactics which nearly sank Clarence Thomas are being employed against naval aviators individually, and, more importantly for Patricia Schroeder et at., against male combat pilots in general: blurring the distinctions between willing participant and victim; holding men and women to different standards of behavior; ignoring some facts and embellishing others; abandoning the rules of evidence and due process; treating defendants as guilty till proven innocent. Meanwhile, language to allow women to serve in combat units—even submarines—has already been included in defense authorization legislation, and has been enthusiastically endorsed by Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Frank Kelso, himself a submariner. While the Admiral denies that Tailhook drove him to him his current position, he admits that it led him to “the realization that we needed, in general, to give females more equal treatment.”
Coeducational training of new recruits is already underway at the Navy’s boot camp in Orlando and, while the Navy touts the ‘success’ of the program in which young men and women train and live together, those close to the program tell lurid tales of nearly continuous sexual activity “under the racks, . . . in the master-at-arms shack, in the fan room, the lounge, the office. You catch them in the act in the meat locker.” One can confidently predict that the consequences of women at sea will be millions of scarce defense dollars spent in modifying ships and shore facilities, untold pregnancies (one in six female sailors was pregnant during the Gulf War), louder clamor for abortions in military hospitals, and an overall decrease in fighting effectiveness (two-thirds of all military personnel unable to deploy for Desert Storm were single mothers).
Despite their howl of betrayal, Mr. Clinton’s “don’t ask-don’t tell” policy is a victory for homosexual activists on two fronts. First, the Clinton Administration forced the military to treat homosexuals as a victimized minority group—negotiating with them, using their language, and not countering with extensive data on homosexual crimes. Secondly, the homosexuals defined the playing field, steering the debate—especially in the media—toward their claim to certain ‘rights’ and the ingenuous distinction between orientation and behavior. Nearly absent from the discussions were all the unpleasantries which homosexuals do not want hauled into the light of day: repulsive practices such as oral and anal sodomy; a plethora of diseases such as AIDS, hepatitis, tuberculosis and intestinal ailments; extraordinary promiscuity; behavior which is often sadistic, masochistic and violent; predatory disposition toward children and young people, as evidenced by groups like the North American Man-Boy Love Association; contamination of the military blood supply; and the $246,000 it costs the taxpayer to care for each service member stricken with AIDS.
Additionally, the most important of all issues— morality—was successfully suppressed by the homosexuals and the Church allowed it to happen. Rallying behind the Military Vicar, our bishops could have done a tremendous service for those of us in uniform by soundly, and in unison across the nation, denouncing the homosexual ‘life-style’ as an intrinsic moral evil” which violates the laws of nature and the commands of God. Just as the forces of death have succeeded in shifting the focus of the abortion debate from the wanton destruction of innocent life to personal ‘choice,’ the homosexuals succeeded in stampeding the Church, and therefore our culture, from the high ground of sexual morality into silence or secular psychobabble. Cardinal Mahoney’s “Statement,” for example, conceded “that there are basic moral and ethical principles and standards that must govern public morality and public life,” but he stopped short of condemning homosexual activity as sinful, even when he addressed the “issue of personal conduct.” When 2,300 enlistees were surveyed by the Los Angeles Times, however, the second most common reason given by the 74% who opposed lifting the ban was a straightforward: “It [homosexuality] is immoral.” When the homosexual ban was challenged on the basis “that majority sentiments about the morality of homosexuality should be declared inadequate,” the Supreme Court responded, in Hardwick, that: ‘The law . . . is constantly based on notions of morality, and if all laws representing essentially moral choices are to be invalidated under the Due Process Clause, the courts will be very busy indeed.” I wish my bishop had said that.
In the mud and smoke of the battlefield, moved by the love known as "comradeship, the personalities (of men) are fused because of a shared willingness to die for each other.” Just as, in the marital act, “union is achieved, not in pleasure alone, but in the act of conception, in which man and woman literally unite in one flesh, that of a child,” so too in “comradeship, the personalities (of men) are fused because of a shared willingness to die for each other.” This comradeship is based not on nationality but on gender—masculinity—and, because men know that its expression is a manifestation of affection which could be mistaken for sexual overtures, it can not exist in units containing either homosexuals or women. These conclusions flow from the Natural Law and the Christian understanding of Christ’s perfect sacrifice on Calvary. Our Lord entrusted both of these elements of Revelation to His Church to teach and defend. In the words of author Leon J. Podles, whom I have quoted extensively in this paragraph, we ignore these truths at our peril:
Men are willing to die for their country because doing so is part of what it means to be masculine, and because their cultures have educated them to know that masculinity is more important than life itself. If a culture doesn’t do this, eventually it will succumb to a culture that does do it.