I request that you seriously consider the following proposed guidelines, and supporting comments, regarding revisions to DOD Dir. 1332.14, Homosexuality and Military Service.
The Guidelines follow:
(A) Homosexual orientation alone will no longer require separation from active duty in the Armed Forced; however, administrative separation is still possible when an individual is unable to adjust to military life.
(B) In addition to studies already prepared on this matter, the DOD should review statements from men and women who have received discharges or deactivation under 1332.14, and only then the DOD should draft a detailed document listing a Code of Professional Military Conduct and explaining how commanders should implement this Code.
(C) The main features of this Code are:
(C-1) MILITARY PERSONNEL DO NOT MAKE COMMENTS ABOUT THE PHYSICAL APPEARANCE OF OTHER SERVICEPERSONS.
(C-2) "Common sense" prohibitions of sexual harassment
(C-3) No discussion of homosexual orientation in intimate circumstances, such as berthing areas.
(D) Military commanders have latitude in determining "freedom of speech" regarding sexual orientation; however, if they prohibit self-disclosure in all situations, they must prohibit inquisitive behavior and "taunts." In units where women already serve, commanders may tolerate a more "relaxed" atmosphere, and consider the possibility that "known homosexuals" could sleep in a physically separate bay.
(E) When on pass or on leave, military personnel may visit any legally operating establishment or public area (in the U.S.) as long as they obey all military and local civilian laws.
(F) Military personnel obey the UCMJ, but the Attorney General shall furnish an Opinion describing the circumstances under which offenses of Article 125 can be successfully prosecuted.
(G) The military will not conduct "witchhunts."
(H) The military will not seek recoupment orders for ROTC and service academy programs.
(I) The military does not indulge in "gay bashing" in training sessions.
(J) The military will conduct careful HIV screening before all deployments as well as annually, with the best technology available.
(K) The military will provide instruction in STD and HIV transmission prevention.
(L) Security clearances will not be denied because of sexual orientation alone, when disclosed in confidential interviews.
(M) Military personnel with honorable service discharged or inactivated since February 28, 1991 under 1332.14 will be offered reinstatement, provided they agree to the "code of conduct" and not to seek future personal gain from any publicity resulting from their declarations.
(N) Other requirements of military behavior and bearing remain unchanged, such as:
(N-1) uniform regulations
(N-3) rank and command
(N-5) conduct at "social" events on base
(N-6) medical fitness
(O) Military compensation and benefits structure, including allowances for housing and for legal spouses and dependents, remains unchanged.
In addition, I propose that the Congress consider:
Limit UCMJ Article 125 ("sodomy") to those cases where there are aggravating circumstances which facilitate "proof." (This is desirable for security reasons as well as for "privacy.")
Recently, I visited the submarine USS Sunfish and two surface ships at the Norfolk Naval Base. I talked at some length to the on-duty service men and (on the tender ship) women and tried to understand their lives and living conditions. Their comments were interesting. They feel the President doesn't care about them; they are very concerned about the budget cuts, possible cuts in spousal medical benefits, and, especially, longer cruises (and even longer periods away from their families). But they were all very professional and skilled and dedicated in their jobs, many of which require obvious technical skill, accuracy, dependability, and problem-solving under pressure. I detected none of the "homophobia" that seemed to come forth from Senator Nunn's visit, even though I think I made it clear to them that I am a gay man. But I did see the weapons controls and bays, from which cruise missiles (even with nuclear warheads) could be fired, and I did see the sleeping areas on the submarine, 27 berths, stacked three-high and separated by blue canvas, in a room smaller than a walk-in "closet". The submariners did discuss how well they get to know how their mates "think." I think I understand that psychological privacy in this extreme environment is a grave concern.
I have also discussed the "don't tell" solutions with gay men with considerable military experience. They tell me that keeping "secrets" in a close-knit military environment is nearly impossible, and that in some instances a degree of "openness" results in less tension in the unit than does "suspicion." Recall that Navy Ensign Dirk Selland revealed his homosexuality to his Captain after his men had taunted him for not "carousing" with them during shore leave (especially after Bill Clinton won the election).
I believe that the proposal outlined above is reasonable, and that it does address the legitimate need of servicemen in close combat units to have "psychological" privacy from inappropriate attention. It is an attempt to give everyone the chance to prove him or herself by performing and behaving properly.
I also understand, however, that there is a deeper cultural issue which no "personal conduct", however beyond reproach, can remedy. Homosexuality is in some theoretical sense "incompatible" with traditional military service: homosexuality is pre-occupied with "self-image" (in P.O. Keith Meinhold's own words); yet male military culture presumes male fungibility, a willingness to suspend sense of self for the benefit of the group1, a "group mindset" which supposedly enables living and working in extreme intimacy without jeopardizing resumption of heterosexual responsibilities and family life when returning home.
Still, there are several compelling reasons for changing military policy, to respect the privacy of ALL military personnel as much as possible:
(1) Capability for military service is a fundamental responsibility for citizenship; we still have Selective Service registration. To say that homosexuals must be excluded from all military service because of the extreme circumstances in some units (even allowing for the contingent nature of military service) is to say that all gay men and lesbians are second-class citizens, regardless of the facts of their lives.
(2) Most gay men in the military do not discover they are gay until after they have been "in" for a while. To exclude gays from service academy appointments would assume we ask 17-year-old boys whether they are interested in girls; yet we "elders" are trying to get our next generation to get its education and practice abstinence!!
(3) The 'witchhunts' that have been necessary to enforce the ban offend all of our notions of due process; and they have been used in especially prurient fashion against women by commanders who want to keep the military a private club where men can validate their "masculinity."
(4) Despite all the "theories" about "unit cohesion" and despite General Schwarzkopf's testimony, during wartime (including the Gulf War), gays have served well, and sometimes relatively openly, and without disrupting their units or missions. The overwhelming majority of "incidents" in the service are for heterosexual misconduct.
I have been particularly moved by the careers of persons such as Meinhold, Steffan, and Thorne, all of whom I have met and talked to personally. If their military careers are not to continue, I hope we will see at least one of them in Congress after the '94 election!! In various other groups in the Washington area, such as Metropolitan Community Church, Adventuring (outdoors), D.C. Sports (athletics) and D.C. Front Runners, I have met other individuals (even service academy graduates) with recent and successfully completed military experience, and I have been deeply impressed by them as well.
I hope that the Senate Armed Services Committee will come around and support a change in military policy, a change which respects the privacy and sense of personal honor of all military personnel. (Copyright, 1993, by Bill Boushka. Previously published in the Ground Zero News, Colorado Springs, March, 1995, p. 17.)
Visit other documents from Ground Zero News: Jan 1995 March 1995 (introduction to this letter); Sept 1995
This letter is legally in the public domain (1993), but I do appreciate proper bibliographic credit.