As ever, Bill Kristol leads the charge against gay people and implies - against all the evidence - that they are somehow incapable of being just as good warriors as straight men and women. I wonder, for example, if he believes that Israel, whose security is much more potentially vulnerable than our own, is weaker because it doesn't bar perfectly good soldiers because they violate ancient Leviticus strictures.
Kristol, of course, is an extreme outlier on the matter of homosexuality - he has endorsed the view that gays can and should be "cured" through "therapy," opposes any secure legal rights for gay couples, and backed a constitutional amendment permanently stigmatizing gay people as second class citizens. He is perfectly capable of trying to stir up Christianist soldiers against their commander-in-chief and using this issue to demagogue the president.
But he is wrong in thinking that ending the ban is somehow a function of "abstract thinking".
Huge amounts of research and the experience of several countries have shown beyond any reasonable doubt that allowing all able men and women to serve who can perform the tasks required has no impact on military preparedness. Barring some simply for who they are violates a core principle of a democracy. It carves out a group of people who are barred from defending the country they love, essentially segregating them as unworthy of a core aspiration of citizenship. Imagine how Kristol would feel if Jews were allowed to serve their country but only on condition that their faith or ethnicity were kept quiet? Would he really believe that opposing that is a function of abstract and irrational liberalism?
Here's his pathetic response to the core question:
Advocates of repeal will say sexual orientation is irrelevant to military performance in a way these attributes are not. But this is not clearly true given the peculiar characteristics of military service.
I presume he means that he thinks that straight servicemembers would be traumatized by having to serve alongside gay servicemembers because they harbor absurd fears that they will be sexually harassed or even "assaulted", as his ally Tony Perkins recently asserted. So soldiers who can take on al Qaeda are too weak-kneed to deal with a gay buddy in the next bunk? Most Americans in 2010 have a higher opinion of the maturity and professionalism of today's volunteer military than Kristol does. The younger generation, for the most part, finds such bigotry ridiculous. Of course, any sexual misconduct by gay servicemembers should be dealt with as severely as with straight servicemembers. But the bigotry of others is not a reason to prevent the honest service of so many Americans. It wasn't right in 1948 when Truman ended racial segregation. It isn't right now.
And then, the final canard - the idea that now is not the time to do anything because we are at war. But remember that Kristol believes our current war is permanent; and if one war ended, he would be doing all he could to advance the next one. And so this is mere rhetoric - rhetoric to disguise Kristol's core belief that gay citizens should be permanently ghettoized outside civil society and public institutions, prevented from forming families, stigmatized for forming stable relationships, encouraged to be cured or stay closeted, rendered as invisible in society as they were decades ago.
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