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Kevin Korenthal: Retain 'don't ask, don't tell' policy

Posted: January 24, 2009 9:58 p.m.
Updated: January 25, 2009 4:55 a.m.
Don't ask, don't tell. The policy is pretty self-explanatory.

Gays choosing to serve in the armed forces in this country are called upon to keep their sexuality a private matter, and their commanders are not to question them about it.

To some who support the homosexual lifestyle, this policy appears discriminatory and unfair, and they believe that it should not be allowed.

In actuality, this policy was developed to protect homosexuals, their fellow troops and commanders from discomfort, harassment and bias. As such, I believe that it should remain in place.

In a recent Military Times poll, 10 percent of respondents said they would refuse to re-up when the time comes if "don't ask, don't tell" is repealed.

That may not sound too bad, but it is a significant number. According the Department of Defense's total number of active and reserve forces, the seemingly small 10 percent would translate to an overall loss of nearly 230,000 troops.

Keep in mind that our entire active duty Marine Corps is made up of only about 200,000, so this would be the equivalent of losing an entire branch of our military.

In addition to the 10 percent who said they would definitely not re-enlist, another 14 percent said they would consider not re-enlisting.

Imagine that for just a second. That is a total of 24 percent of our military, nearly a quarter of our active-duty troops. Doesn't seem like such a small number anymore, does it?

Now think about the number of things that our men and women in uniform would have to go through to accommodate soldiers who want to live "out and proud."

There would be sensitivity training to protect homosexual soldiers from having to hear things that might offend them, along with punishment for those who dare to be vocal about their disapproval.

Any real or perceived bias against homosexual soldiers would be punished, as well. Then there would be the obvious discomfort of heterosexual soldiers who feel that another soldier of the same sex might be peering at them while they are changing or showering.

And awkward doesn't even begin to describe what it would be like for a soldier to listen to his fellow brothers-in-arms talk about their latest romantic conquests. All of this would undoubtedly lead to an even larger exodus of military personnel.

There's still more. Sexual misconduct and harassment have been an issue in the military ever since women began serving.

Accusations of sexism, inappropriate relationships between soldiers, extramarital affairs, sexual favors and threats of retribution after rejection, have caused many headaches for the DOD.

Reversing "don't ask, don't tell" would make the situation even more complicated. Not only would you have women accusing men (sometimes factually, sometimes not) of harassment, intimidation or bias, but you would see increased accusations of bias against homosexuals (real or imagined), charges of sexual harassment of and by homosexuals (some true, some false), an increase of inappropriate relationships between soldiers and retribution for rejection.

In short, things would go from being somewhat complicated with the male/female dynamic to being downright impossible.

Soldiers on the battlefield need to be the quintessential band of brothers. They have to care for and trust one another completely. That cannot happen when there is conflict within a unit.

Reversing "don't ask, don't tell" would undoubtedly cause a great number of issues within all branches of the military and create many more problems for the DOD.

Service in our military is a tough enough job as it is. Our troops put their lives on the line to protect us from people who want to destroy our country.

They are subjected to an investigation every time they open fire on the battlefield. They don't need this kind of social engineering experiment to add to the complexities of their jobs.

Revoking "don't ask, don't tell" is likely to cost us much more than 10 percent to 24 percent of our military. That number would pale in comparison to the number of men and women who would either refuse to enlist, lose the will to fight our enemies, be drummed out for true or false harassment claims or refuse to re-enlist later on.

Like it or not, "don't ask, don't tell" keeps the proverbial genie in the bottle where it belongs. Gays may not like it, and it may not be politically correct, but it prevents a lot more headaches than it causes.

Without knowing who is gay and who is not, there isn't really any argument harassment or denied promotions because of homosexuality. It becomes a non-issue, except to the members of the homosexual community who think that fellow gays should not have to remain in the closet.

They couldn't care less about maintaining a strong military or a cohesive environment for our troops, as long as they further their own agenda.

Let's hope the Obama administration and the Democrats in Congress are smart enough to see that.

Kevin D. Korenthal is a proud conservative Republican and private citizen. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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