Alex Massie

New US Army Division: The Fightin’ Hermaphrodites

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Given that homosexuals are permitted to serve in the armed forces of, I think, every NATO country bar Turkey and the United States and that none of these countries have reported any great difficulty as a consequence of ending this discrimination, it's hard to see how lifting the ban on gays serving in the military can really destroy the United States military. For that matter, in the draft era, thousands of gay men obviously served in the army and, as best I can recall, this didn't have any significant operational impact.

Still, it's grimly amusing seeing what excuses the opponents - including a flip-flopping John McCain - can come up with to justify the ban on homosexuals. California's Duncan Hunter may win the prize for raising the dreadful spectre of hermaphrodites serving Uncle Same:

"That's going to be part of this whole thing," he tells NPR. "It's not just gays and lesbians. It's a whole gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual community. If you're going to let anybody no matter what preference—what sexual preference they have, that means the military is going to probably let everybody in. It's going to be like civilian life and ... I think that that would be detrimental for the military."

For real. Meanwhile, Senator Saxby Chambliss, who as Radley Balko points out took advantage of no fewer than six deferments to avoid serving in Vietnam, has a whole range of comical concerns:

"In my opinion," he said, "the presence in the armed forces of persons who demonstrate a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts would very likely create an unacceptable risk to those high standards."

Why, if gays are allowed into the military, Chambliss said, soon the armed forces will allow all sorts of other things.

Like what?

"Alcohol use, adultery, fraternization, and body art," said Chambliss.

"If we change this rule of 'Don't Ask, Dont Tell," he asked, "what are we going to do with these other rules?"

What indeed?

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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