The Spectacle Blog

Thoughts on Santorum & DADT

By on 9.23.11 | 12:31PM

I respectfully disagree with David N. Bass' assertion that American soldier Stephen Hill's question concerning the status of gay and lesbian soldiers under a Republican administration was "loaded."

On the contrary, Hill's question was quite reasonable and, as I wrote last night in my post-mortem on the debate, Santorum's answer was also reasonable. Santorum made it clear that if he were elected President that he would restore DADT. He also appeared to leave the door open to allow military personnel who have already declared they are gay or lesbian under the new policy adopted under the Obama Administration. Hill wanted to know what would happen to him and other military personnel in his situation with a Republican in the White House and Santorum gave his answer.

Santorum's reasonable and measured tones notwithstanding, I do disagree with the overall substance of his answer.

First, Santorum began by stating, "I would say any type of sexual activity has absolutely no place in the military." However, Hill never said he was engaging in sexual activity while on duty in Iraq. He merely declared his sexual orientation. Nothing more and nothing less. The issue of Hill engaging in sexual activity while on duty in Iraq is an unsubstantiated assumption on the part of Santorum.

Second, Santorum made the case that allowing gay and lesbian military personnel to serve only was to "inject social policy into the military" and "social experimentation with our military." Santorum is, of course, entitled to this opinion. But he ought to keep in mind that who opposed the integration of our armed forces in the 1940s used very similar language. Consider the remarks of Colonel Eugene Householder who was speaking on behalf of General George C. Marshall before the Conference of Negro Editors & Publishers on December 8, 1941 - the day after the bombing of Pearl Harbor:

The Army is not a sociological laboratory; to be effective it must be organized and trained according to the principles which will insure success. Experiments to meet the wishes and demands of the champions of every race and creed for the solution of their problems are a danger to efficiency, discipline and morale and would result in ultimate defeat.

It was a weak argument then. It is even a weaker argument now.

Finally, Santorum states, "Sex is not an issue. It should not be an issue. Leave it alone. Keep it to yourself whether you are heterosexual or homosexual." Yet when we watch the local television news during Thanksgiving and Christmas we see images of soldiers returning from overseas to spend the holidays with their families. For those soldiers who must remain away from home, we see video taped messages to their loved ones especially wives or girlfriends. And lest we forget about our soldiers who live with their families on military bases. So, unless a soldier has no family at all it is impossible for a soldier to keep it to himself or herself and it is disingenuous for Santorum to pretend otherwise.

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