Friday February 26, 2010

Head of Marines Defends Military Ban on Open Homosexuals

Army, Air Force, Navy officials express concern with White House plan

By Peter J. Smith

WASHINGTON, DC, February 26, 2010 ( – The highest general in the U.S. Marine Corps said Thursday that he opposes changing the law prohibiting open homosexuals from serving in the armed forces, making him the most senior military commander to speak out forcefully against White House plans to nix the ban.

“I think that the current policy works,” US Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Conway told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Conway’s advocacy for the ban places him in opposition to President Barack Obama, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen. Mullen told the same Committee that removing the ban and the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy was a matter of integrity, asserting that DADT “forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens.”

Conway stated that “My best military advice to this committee, to the Secretary [of Defense], and to the President would be to keep the law such as it is.”

“My personal opinion is that unless we can strip away the emotion, agenda and politics and ask, ‘do we somehow enhance the war-fighting of the United States Marine Corps by allowing homosexuals to openly serve,’ then we haven’t addressed it from the correct perspective,” said the top Marine.

Conway’s testimony was applauded by Elaine Donnelly, President of the Center for Military Readiness, who told that the Marine Corps Commandant did “a fine job of stating his opinion in support of current law.”

“He was stating common sense, and it really doesn’t take a whole lot of courage to speak for common sense, but it certainly does take the ability to take pressure from politicians and the President of the United States, who have a different point of view,” said Donnelly.

Donnelly noted that the Commandant of the Marine Corps “is the person to whom Marine families turn when they have problems and concerns,” and thus “is much more representative of military families and those who are on active duty” than, for example, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs.

Donnelly said testimony that week was “a real turning point” with US Army, Air Force, and Navy chiefs expressing grave reservations, although not outright opposition, against changing the law and DADT.

US Army Chief Gen. George Casey and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz told Senators on Tuesday that they feared a repeal under the current wartime circumstances would disturb a military already suffering from heavy strain to fight two overseas wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead on Thursday also voiced opposition to a moratorium on DADT proposed by Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), saying such a measure would be “extremely confusing to the force.”

All four military chiefs, however, said they would be in favor a Pentagon review board surveying how military personnel and their families feel about the ban.

Many retired and active duty military personnel have expressed opposition to repealing DADT, citing the impact it would have on troop discipline and moral. One private letter to Adm. Mullen from retired Navy Captain Lawrence R. Jefferis – now published with author’s permission by Americans United for Truth – illustrates the problem.

“The best analogy to a ship at sea is a prison. There is no other outlet for sexual drives and I know of no prison in the United States that assigns males and females, or who intentionally assign known homosexuals, to the same cell,” wrote Jefferis, who said he had dealt with homosexuals on ship as an officer.

“There is usually a senior/junior relationship in such [sexual] exchanges and the senior partner will reward the junior with preferential treatment,” he explained, “such as duty assignments, watches, leave, liberty, and advancement.

“Such preferential treatment can’t be hidden from other crewmembers and tends to destroy the chain of command, discipline and morale.”

Defense Secretary Gates previously told Congress that the Pentagon will be doing a study on the matter of integrating open homosexuals within the services, but Congress will have nearly a year to wait before the study is complete.

Donnelly told LSN that currently there is bipartisan opposition in Congress to removing the ban and believed that “when the testimony is filled out later on … there is going to be reluctance on the part of Congress to repeal the law as it is.”

See related coverage by

Colin Powell Throws Support Behind Repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

Veterans, Former Army Legal Chief Defend “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

Defense Secretary Gates to Phase Out Ban on Openly Gay Military

Congress Takes Aim at “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”