Military archbishop urges Congress not to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’
Washington D.C., Jun 3, 2010 / 08:04 pm (CNA/EWTN News).-
The “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy barring open homosexuals from serving in the military should not be changed, the Archbishop of the Archdiocese for the Military Services said on Tuesday. Noting the need for strong rules against immoral activity, he said moral beliefs should not be sacrificed for “merely political considerations.” (This caveat only applies to gays, not straights, not nuclear weapons, not military incursions to support the oil industry.)
Archbishop Timothy Broglio, writing in a June 1 statement, reported that “a number” of chaplains and commanding officers have expressed concerns about the effects of a policy change. He said he also responded to a request from the Chiefs of Chaplains of the Armed Forces, voicing his “considerations and concerns” about proposed changes to legislation regarding servicemen and women with a homosexual orientation.
“Catholic chaplains must show compassion for persons with a homosexual orientation, but can never condone—even silently—homosexual behavior,” he wrote, voicing concern that a change in policy might negatively affect the role of the chaplain in the pulpit, the classroom, the barracks and the office. (Maybe we need to get chaplains out of the military.)
He noted that Catholic chaplains cannot accept or bless same-sex unions and no restrictions on the teaching of Catholic morality can be accepted. (So, what's your point? You can't marry divorced straights either.)
The archbishop questioned whether the change would mean that homosexuals are authorized to engage in activities considered immoral by the Catholic Church and many other religious groups. He pointed out that morality has an effect on unit cohesion and overall morale.
“This Archdiocese exists to serve those who serve and it assists them by advocating moral behavior. The military must find ways to promote that behavior and develop strong prohibitions against any immoral activity that would jeopardize morale, good morals, unit cohesion and every other factor that weakens the mission.” (Has it ever dawned on the good Archbishop that some of us actually think Catholic priests participating as commissioned officers in a military organization compromises the Catholic mission?)
He also advised a “firm effort” to avoid any inadvertent injustices resulting because individuals or groups are “put in living situations that are an affront to good common sense.” (See below.)
“Those with a homosexual orientation can expect respect and treatment worthy of their human dignity,” Archbishop Broglio wrote. “The prohibitions regarding sexual harassment and intimidation refer just as much to homosexuals as to anyone else.” (Not women.)
The prelate then quoted the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which says Sacred Scripture and Catholic tradition recognize homosexual acts to be “of grave depravity,” intrinsically disordered, and under no circumstances to be approved. (So is the use of condoms, but I never hear any Catholic chaplain speak out about the military providing condoms to soldiers.)
His quotation continued, recognizing both the respect, compassion and sensitivity due to those with deep-seated homosexual tendencies and the need to avoid unjust discrimination against them.
Changes to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” are potentially “enormous and overwhelming,” he added. “Nothing should be changed until there is certainty that morale will not suffer. Sacrificing the moral beliefs of individuals or their living conditions to respond to merely political considerations is neither just nor prudent especially for the armed forces at a time of war.”
“The Archdiocese for the Military Services… urges the Congress not to repeal the current policy for the Armed Forces,” Archbishop Broglio’s statement concluded.
Now some truth about how DADT really functions in the military:
Here's one thing you probably know about "don't ask, don't tell," the Pentagon policy on gays and lesbians in the military. As my colleague Patricia Murphy reports, a bill to dismantle this outdated policy is wending its way through Congress.
Here's one thing you probably don't know about the 17-year-old law that says, essentially, gays and lesbians can remain in the military as long as no one knows they are gay:
The ban has disproportionately affected minorities and women. The latest data, compiled by the gay rights group Servicemembers United from Defense Department numbers, show that in 2008, minorities made up 45 percent of troops discharged under "don't ask, don't tell," while minorities were 30 percent of the service. Women accounted for 34 percent of the discharges but comprised 14 percent of the military. (I didn't know minorities and women were that much more gay than white men like the Archbishop.)
USA Today, reporting the study, contacted Pentagon spokeswoman Cynthia Smith who said the military does not know why there is a disproportionate number of discharges for minorities and women and, under the ban, can't look into the question. (Apparently DADT means the military can't ask but straight white male soldiers can "tell".)
Nonetheless, I was shocked to find out that service women are more than twice as likely to be discharged under DADT, based on the Servicemembers United's numbers crunching. And for persons of color, the rate is 1.5 percent. Our armed services are not yet gender-blind or color-blind, although it is a goal the services are working hard to meet. But I am still curious as to why the discharge rate is so disproportionately high for women. I posed the question to Servicemembers United Executive Director J. Alexander Nicholson III, and he responded this way:
"Ultimately we do not know exactly why women are disproportionately impacted by the 'don't ask, don't tell' law, but we do know that this law is often used as a tool for sexual harassment against women and sometimes even a tool to enable sexual assault. Often times women are accused of being lesbians if they do not succumb to the sexual advances or the romantic interests of others, and this sometimes leads to unfair targeting of women under 'don't ask, don't tell.' It should also be noted that racial and ethnic minorities are disproportionately discharged under 'don't ask, don't tell.' All of these facts fly in the face of the claims that this law is working. A law that impacts women, and especially women of color, at twice the rate of their presence in the military is clearly not working." (Must be working for somebody.)
So let me get this, er, straight -- servicemen threaten servicewomen with "outing" them as lesbians unless they succumb to the men's sexual advances? What kind of "Through the Looking Glass" parallel universe have the Armed Forces become under DADT? And why is our volunteer, body-strapped military firing otherwise perfectly credentialed soldiers because they happen to be gay or lesbian?
Essentially what the good Archbishop is asking for is the continuation of a law which is effectively used to target women unwilling to be used for sexual pleasure, and to harrass minorities of color. DADT is just another club to beat down women and minorities in the military. The US doesn't need to enshrine this law, they need to get rid of it. Period.
Here's a suggestion Archbishop Broglio. Why don't you advocate for the entirety of Catholic sexual morality and extend DADT to all single service people, insisting on their maintaining celibacy in the interests of unit cohesion and morale? It might leave us with very little in the way of a military, but at least it would be a military that conformed to Catholic sexual morality.