Yesterday, on the 60th anniversary of the integration of the military, the House Armed Services Committee held a the first hearing to review President Bill Clinton's "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

One of the opponents to gays serving in the military that testified was Elaine Donnelly, the president of the Center for Military Readiness. Donnelly seemed more than obsessed with the "sex" part of "homosexuals," as she always made sure to say. She claimed that by allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military, there would be an increase of "inappropriate passive aggressive sexual behavior common in the homosexual community."

Her definition of "passive aggressive" behavior is sexual conduct that "stops short" of sexual assault. She kept referring to the "close living quarters" military lived in and the "power of sexuality." In other words, Donnelly seems to think that gays and lesbians are unable to control their sexual conduct. She also seemed to think that by placing gays and straights in the same unit was some kind of undue hardship.

Congressman Chris Shays, a Republican from Connecticut who has called for the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" the acceptance of openly gay men and women in the military, sharply responded to Donnelly. He pointed out that there are already codes in place to penalize sexual misconduct in the military, so those who simply identify with a different orientation shouldn't be discharged. "Their conduct is what matters in the service," Shays said at the hearing.

Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-CA) had introduced legislation that would repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" policy in the military. She compared the integration of openly gay men and women in the military to the integration of blacks into the military 60 years ago. It seems clear this legislation won't go anywhere before Bush leaves office, but perhaps the next administration will stop penalizing gays and lesbians for their identity.

--Kay Steiger

You may also like