MCC Submits List of Topics for Pentagon Gays-in-Military Working Group Report

In the weeks since the Senate refused to repeal the 1993 law regarding gays in the military on September 21 that is usually mislabeled “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” gay activist leaders have expressed the hope that a Pentagon Comprehensive Review Working Group set up in February to review the issue will issue a report favorable to repeal.  The CRWG, which is co-chaired by Defense Department General Counsel Jeh Johnson and Army General Carter Ham, is due to issue its report on December 1.

The project has been controversial from the start because major surveys and focus groups to “engage the force” have restricted the scope of discussion only to the question of how to implement repeal of the law, not if the law should be repealed.

Leaders of the Military Culture Coalition (MCCmet with the CRWG co-chairs and staff in the Pentagon on March 4 and again on September 16.  On October 1, 2010, eleven leaders of the MCC sent a formal letter to leaders of the CRWG, which included a lengthy list of major issues that ought to be addressed in the CRWG’s December report and an extensive  Bibliography of Policy Analyses, articles and commentaries relevant to each topic listed.

The list expanded on a CMR Analysis that that illustrated with schematic charts the many issues that should be included in the CRWG’s report to Congress.  The MCC letter and its accompanying documents present a long list of Issues of Concern assigned to the CRWG for review,   The list mentioned relevant issues that the CRWG that may not be discussing due to restrictions imposed by the Secretary of Defense, but nevertheless should be addressed for the consideration of Congress.

The Military Culture Coalition cover letter drew attention to the Flag and General Officers for the Military (FGOM) statement in support of the current law.  The statement was signed by 1,167 distinguished retired generals and admirals, including 51 who had achieved four-star rank.  It was presented to President Obama and senior members of Congress in March, 2009.  “This statement,” said the MCC, “is an unprecedented and authentic statement that reflects actual military experience in recent and previous wars, not just theory and ideology alone.”

The MCC letter and accompanying documents completely refute the theory, expressed by several lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) groups, that full implementation of an LGBT law or policy for the military would be “easy.”  As stated in the MCC letter,

“Misguided predictions of certain success for an unprecedented social experiment in the American military are based on theories that disregard decades of military experience and what we know about human imperfection.  They cannot be justified in terms of military necessity. The cumulative burden of predictable issues and problems requiring identification and ‘mitigation,’ should current law be repealed, would be complicated and problematic for military commanders and personnel at all levels.”

The MCC submitted with its letter an indexed list of these predictable issues and problems that the Pentagon group needs to address with plans and recommendations.  Every one of the following controversial and complicated issues should be addressed in the Working Group’s report, even if there are no plans or recommendations to resolve the highlighted problem:

Practical Consequences of a Non-Discrimination Policy Regarding LGBT Personnel

  • Accommodating lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered (hereinafter LGBT) personnel, without discrimination
  • Accommodating all sexual orientation groups in living conditions offering little or no privacy
  • Non-discriminatory policies permitting consensual male/male and female/female relationships, on- and off-base
  • Non-discrimination in handling non-consensual relationships
  • Handling potential complaints regarding inappropriate sexual behavior
  • Provisions for legal support for persons complaining of more serious sexual tension, harassment, threats, or abuse, both heterosexual and LGBT

LGBT Training and Corollary “Zero Tolerance” Policies

  • Modified, mandatory diversity training and education
  • “Zero tolerance” policies (comparable to those used to end racial discrimination and drug abuse in the military), to implement the new LGBT policy
  • “Zero tolerance” of chaplains and other personnel who disagree with the new LGBT policy for reasons of religious conviction
Burdens of Social Engineering that Affect the Quality of Military Life and Factors Essential to Sustain the All-Volunteer Force
  • Policies of concern to military commanders; i.e., unit cohesion, morale, retention, and readiness for deployment
  • Defining, maintaining, repairing or improving vertical unit cohesion in certain situations associated with the full and open acceptance of LGBT personnel in the military
  • Defining, maintaining, repairing or improving horizontal unit cohesion in certain situations associated with the full and open acceptance of LGBT personnel in all military branches and communities
  • Dealing with family resistance to military service recruitment and retention under a new LGBT policy

 Anticipated Changes in Military Culture

  • Housing of same-sex couples on military bases and associated policies
  • Implementing benefits for LGBT personnel, equal to those of heterosexual couples
  • Accommodation of personnel known to be at greater risk of HIV infection; i.e., male personnel who engage in sexual conduct with men
  • Social events that involve LGBT individuals and same-sex couples

 Anticipated Revisions in Military Law and Regulations

  • Changes in UCMJ provisions and regulations regarding sexual conduct that are not consistent with a new LGBT non-discrimination policy
  • Retroactive implementation of new LGBT policy
  • Should current law be retained, plans/recommendations to improve understanding and enforcement of Section 654. Title 10, U.S.C., which states that homosexuals are not eligible for military service

 Arguments For and Against Repeal of the Current Law

  • Professional surveys measuring military and public opinions on issues related to the current law regarding homosexuals in the military and the consequences of repeal
  • Analysis of differences between the American All-Volunteer Force and the militaries of foreign nations
  • Analysis of personnel discharges for homosexual conduct since passage of the 1993 law

The MCC letter reminded CRWG leaders that the U.S. Constitution gives to Congress the authority and responsibility to raise and support the armed forces, and to write the laws that govern the land and naval forces. Members of Congress are not bound by academic theories or the administration’s political promises when deciding the best way to meet these responsibilities. 

The MCC leaders further requested that the panel “present all relevant information to Congress with an even hand,” correcting for an apparent bias resulting from the assumption that the 1993 law will be repealed.  The CRWG should recognize the myriad issues and problems that the MCC has indentified to it, and Congress should demand it give serious answers.

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