Last night, the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee against Elena Kagan’s nomination to the Supreme Court. Perkins regurgitated his concerns about Kagan’s opposition to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) and accused the nominee of opposing the military “because they have not yet bowed to the demands of the sexual counter culture.” “Her record would suggest that it’s not that Ms. Kagan does not want the military to defend our nation against terrorism, it’s just that she wants to use the military to advocate radical social policies more,” he said.
Perkins also took issue with Kagan’s characterization of DADT as “unjust” and argued that keeping openly gay and lesbian Americans from serving in the military “is the only sensible way to run a military organization”:
PERKINS: Of all of the moral injustices throughout history that man has inflicted on man, she equates them to a military policy enacted by Congress? Mr. Chairman, the purpose of our military is to fight and win this country’s wars….In war, the normal ways of living are completely sacrificed in the harsh and punishing environment of combat…military life by its nature must be characterized by regular lack of privacy and repeated situations of forced intimacy. As military experts have testified, and this Congress has affirmed, in such an environment it is not ‘a moral injustice of the first order’ to minimize the sexual exposure that such conditions force on soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen. It is the only sensible and effective way to run a military organization.
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Perkins said that he “abhor[s]” discrimination based on race and other immutable characteristics,” but I suspect that if you removed all of the references to homosexuality from Perkins’ statement and replaced them with descriptions of race or gender, it would mirror the arguments made by those who opposed President Truman’s integration of the military or the increasing role of women in combat.
Their concerns were as unfounded then as Perkins’ are now. In today’s military, men and women of all races, religions, and values train together, sleep in extremely close quarters, and eat in the same mess halls without detriment to unit cohesion or military effectiveness. And foreign militaries that allow gays to serve openly in their forces — like those of Great Britain, Canada, and Israel — have shown that keeping gays out isn’t a very “sensible” or “effective way to run a military organization.” These nations did not build separate housing, shower, or other common-use facilities for gay and lesbian service members and haven’t experienced the kinds of doomsday scenarios and Perkins predicts.