Jamie Freeze Baird
December 21, 2010
General George S. Patent Leather: Conservatives and DADT
By Jamie Freeze Baird

Last week, eight Republicans helped the Senate repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell (DADT), which effectively ends the suppression of open homosexuals in the military. Conservatives across the country were outraged at the supposed betrayal by the eight Republicans. Some conservatives have jokingly (I hope) stated that the repeal will lead to pink uniforms, Twilight-themed sea bags or rucksacks, lipstick war paint, and Jimmy Choo combat boots. Beyond the hyperbole, however, lies a fundamental issue that seems to divide the country and conservatives: liberty. As a conservative, I believe the repeal of DADT was an advance of liberty, and other conservatives should support its repeal. In order to provide my view on why the repeal is good, let us examine the following arguments used by many conservatives:

  1. Divine

  2. Destroy

  3. Disallow

  4. Damage

  5. Deny

  6. Discrimination

The Divine argument states that America is a Christian nation; homosexuality is a sin and should not be tolerated or sanctioned by the government by allowing homosexuals to serve openly. As a Christian, I fully agree that the Bible condemns the homosexual lifestyle. Leviticus and Romans do not leave gray areas on the matter. However, as one Christian associate said, "For us to feel appointed to execute some sort of cosmic justice on the Lord's behalf is the height of hubris."

Our government governs Christians and non-Christians. America was founded on Christian principles by Christians and non-Christians. It was not an exclusively Christian nation or else the 1st Amendment would have been nullified from the start. Our founders quickly realized that mandating church attendance and tithing were futile attempts in changing the hearts of men. That is why the Baptists were the forerunners of separation of church and state in colonial America — they did not want a state church because God did not need the state to accomplish His plan. The state interfered with God's work. As a Baptist, I am proud of the tradition that Isaac Backus and John Leland gave America, and I seek to preserve it.

The Destroy argument states that allowing homosexuals to serve openly further destroys the moral fabric of America. As one colleague wrote,

    "I agree with liberty, and I thank God for freedom. However, if that liberty or freedom allows something that is outside of the will of God, then something is wrong with it. Where do we draw the line? Where do we stop the advancement of the degradation of our society? Where do we draw the line in the sand? Or should we just hand things over now and let our country be destroyed? After all, the fall of every major empire in history happened as a result of a corrupt and immoral society."

This argument seems to rely on man's abilities to keep a nation afloat. If Christians or moralists are relying on their efforts to keep America from moral degradation, not only have they failed, but they will never succeed. Life is about choices. People have the choice to pursue good or evil, and they live with the consequences. Liberty of choice is essential to a society, and we should preserve that within reason.

The Disallow argument states there is no right to serve in the military — the military should be able to exclude whomever they wish. The people who make this claim fail to realize that the US military is not the Boy Scouts; rather, it is a federal institution. As such, the military does not have the right or liberty to exclude people based solely on sexual orientation. Furthermore, the military does not have the luxury to turn able-bodied men and women away. America is fighting two wars and desperately needs all qualified and available manpower. If a homosexual can pull a trigger or operate a piece of equipment, why not utilize their skills? As Barry Goldwater quipped, "You don't need to be straight to fight and die for your country. You just need to shoot straight."

The Damage argument states that allowing homosexuals to serve will damage the military in some way. General George S. Patton would disagree with that argument — he thought the successful commanders were homosexual. He stated on one occasion, "All very successful commanders are prima donnas and must be so treated." Of course, I took Patton's words and twisted them into a (lame) joke — I thought some of my angry readers could use a laugh by now.

However a current 1st Lieutenant in the Army (I will not list his name since he is not officially speaking for the Army), who has served for seven years, had this to say,

    "As an active duty Army cavalry officer, I can say that I'm glad this archaic law has finally gotten overturned. Furthermore, neither myself nor the vast majority of the Army cares whether a soldier is gay or straight.

    My unit is pretty typical of most combat arms units in the Army. It's undermanned, underfunded, underequipped, yet still expected to keep up with the ever increasing demand for more patrols and missions. We're constantly expected to do more with less. Nothing new there. But under those circumstances, I appreciate every trigger-puller I can get. Every soldier is an extra set of eyes watching the roads and rooftops, or an extra gun ready to protect our guys. And I can promise you that when the world is exploding around us, the last thing you're thinking about is whether Private Jimmy is looking at my ding-dong.

    Please enlighten me as to how units have been destroyed by homosexuality. Because in the real world, as soon as a soldier is identified or identifies himself as being gay, he immediately gets moved out of his platoon. The entire chain of command gets notified, and he's processed for a chapter 15 discharge as quickly as possible.

    This situation is no different than when blacks and women were being denied their service to our military. The excuses against it are as paper thin now as they were back then. DADT and its predecessor are antiquated, discriminatory policies that have NEVER been justified outside of peoples' irrational fears and prejudices. I AM the troops. And I'm saying that if people spent as much time serving as they do judging others, they'd realize that we have far bigger problems to tackle than kicking around the handful of gays we have now. It seems that people believe that once we allow gay soldiers to serve openly, they're going to start [expletive deleted] each other outside and wearing lipstick and nail polish."


We are damaging the military when we discharge men and women who are highly trained and qualified. This loss cripples units as replacements must be trained and integrated. The 1st Lieutenant's comments are in keeping with numerous studies, including the Pentagon study, which suggest that the most active-duty military members do not have a problem serving along side of homosexuals. After all, many already serve together.

The Deny argument states that homosexuals already serve — why the big deal about being open about their lifestyle? This argument asks homosexuals to deny their way of life and lie. Currently, the military fosters a culture of deceit, fear, and lying; this is antithetical to the military's mission and existence. If conservatives value honesty, as we claim to value, why do we demand people lie about their lifestyle? Forcing homosexuals to lie about their way of life in order to keep their job or to die for their country deprives them of the liberty heterosexuals enjoy. After all, heterosexuals are not discharged for talking about their significant other, but let a lesbian utter the word "girlfriend" and she is canned. Homosexuals lose liberty when they honorably uphold our liberty in war. They fight for something they cannot have, and we moan and groan when they are granted the liberty to not lie about their lifestyle.

Finally, the Discrimination argument states that homosexuals will become targets of bullying, harassment, or assaults if they openly serve. Black people and women faced discrimination when they joined the military, yet time overcame these obstacles. To deny someone liberty for the chance that they might be hurt or harassed is ludicrous and flouts the nature and intent of liberty. Liberty is not freedom from discomfort or criticism; rather, liberty offers an opportunity. No one should be mistreated for their lifestyle, but protectionism has no place in a conservative's concept of liberty.

As a conservative, I have already received much criticism for the views expressed in this article, and I anticipate more. One man, a prominent local Republican clearly offended by my views, told me I held no claim to the ideology of conservatism. However, I will share with you what I told him: "If by conservative, you mean valuing life, liberty, and property above all other rights, then yes, I am conservative. I am a Lockean to the core. However, if, by conservative, you mean I want the government to mandate our lives to the smallest details all for the sake of public morality, then no, I am not a conservative."

There is a growing divide between conservatives of the Lockean persuasion and conservatives of the Moral Majority persuasion, yet the two are not mutually exclusive. As George W. Bush said, "I cannot separate my faith from my political views." As a conservative, I seek to uphold all that is good about our political system, and be radical enough to get rid of all that is bad. I firmly believe that liberty is good, and that any system that suppresses liberty is bad. Conservatives can disagree with homosexuality and still support the repeal of DADT. It is a matter of tolerance. Tolerance is not acceptance; rather, it is the ability to say, "I will treat you with fairness, dignity, and respect, even though I do not agree with you." As conservatives, we need to fall off of our self-righteous high horse and fight for the values we pay lip service to.

© Jamie Freeze Baird

 

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Jamie Freeze Baird

Jamie Baird received battlefield experience in the war of ideology while attending the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. While earning her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and History, she served as Vice President of the College Republicans and was the lone conservative opinion columnist for The Carolinian, UNCG's student newspaper. After surviving college without becoming a liberal, she graduated in 2009. Jamie received her Master of Arts in Government, with certification in Law and Public Policy from Regent University in 2011, where she was also active in the College Republicans. You can contact Jamie at jamiebaird12@gmail.com with questions, comments, rants, and snide remarks.

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