Letter to Rep. Jim Moran, D-VA, 8th District, on repealing “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”
Dear Representative Moran:
Earlier this year, Rep. Marty Meehan (D-MA) and others introduced a provision in a bill (“The Military Readiness Enhacement Act” to repeal the “don’t ask don’t tell” provision regarding homosexuals in the military. I am writing today to support the effort to lift the ban and provide some additional psychological and political perspective. You probably recall that in May, the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), which I have supported, did conduct a lobbying campaign to support the bill. I could not go on the lobbying sessions then because of schedule conflicts, so I am writing you in detail now.
First, it is important that the democratic political process address this issue, and that we not depend on the courts to overturn the military gay ban. There are at least two new lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the 1993 Defense Authorization Act that implemented DADT, and these lawsuits are in part predicated on the Supreme Court 2003 ruling Lawrence v. Texas, regarding the constitutionality of sodomy laws. Nevertheless, the Ban (as I will call it in this letter) has always been upheld at the appellate level, largely because of the doctrine known as “deference to the military”; and that is a subjective and difficult doctrine to overcome, given the explicit powers given to Congress in Article I to regulate the military.
You may recall that I corresponded with you at great length
about this matter during the Spring and early Summer
of 1993, when this issue was debated in Congress. Eventually, you came around
to supporting the idea of “don’t ask don’t tell” yourself, somewhat in the
spirit of President Clinton’s 1993 speech announcing his “Live and Let Live
Policy” (that is what he calls it in his book “My Life”, perhaps because that
is what I named it in mine, below) given on
I had become interested in this issue because of an ironic
twist earlier in my life. I had been thrown out of the
But I think that this all shows why the “don’t ask don’t
tell solution” is not acceptable now. I
grew up in a post WWII, Cold War era when the military had great influence on
American life, great power to shape its values, and a major influence on the
future of young men as individuals. Freedom could not be taken for granted then
(that is again true especially today!). Military service then was compulsory.
We had a draft then, and student deferments created a moral controversy
comparable to that created by The Ban today. Men were presumed to have a postulatory duty to protect women and children as a
prerequisite to adult freedom. The Ban, remember, has been particularly costly
in terms of language and intelligence skills lost to the military, as well as,
as John Stossel pointed out, aggravating the “back
door” draft of lengthened deployments.
(A study by SLDN suggests that lifting the ban could attract 41000 more
recruits to the military.) Even our
volunteer military structure has a major impact on society, as the military is
a major source of funds to pay for college and professional education for
economically underprivileged teens and young adults. This is how it should be,
perhaps. Fitness for participation in defending the country is a basic
obligation of citizenship, and we are beginning to see that participation in
child rearing and eldercare is also an expected responsibility. Equal gay
rights should mean equal gay responsibility. If we did have a draft again, what
would happen to “don’t ask don’t tell”? (As much as the Pentagon denies that it
wants a draft, I wonder what will happen if we have a sudden emergency with
So how, then, is the Ban to be lifted? In 1993 the Pentagon had
contracted with the Rand Corporation to come up with a plan, and
Any reasonable code of conduct would require discretion on
the part of servicemembers about personal matters. A
particular concern that could come up today would be the perception of
self-promotion by servicemembers with blogging. The
pervasiveness of the World Wide Web and the unbelievable mathematical
efficiency of search engines has led to a world were personal matters are
potentially much more “public” than they were even ten years ago. The old
paradigm of “privacy,” so important in various due process cases before the
Supreme Court (ranging from Griswold
to Roe and now
The Supreme Court will soon hear cases related to the Solomon Amendment, which allows (or even requires) DOD to withhold funds from universities that do not allow equal access on campus to military recruiters, usually because of an institution’s objection to a recruiter’s violating its own policies against sexual orientation discrimination. The Solomon Amendment provides another clear example of untoward military influence on civilian life. There is a similar issue in the “No Child Left Behind” law, where military recruiters have access to public school students’ records. Ordinary parents and gays could find themselves strange political bedfellows in opposing such military intrusiveness. But what happens if the demands for national security become even greater?
Finally, the Lawrence v. Texas ruling does not necessarily mean that the military sodomy law UCMJ 125 is invalidated. We know this from a case called Marcum. UCMJ should be changed to make “sodomy” illegal only the context of fraternization or coercion (or involvement with a minor). Right now, it seems like convictions still occur and may be upheld in court when servicemember conduct is held to have endangered collective “good order and discipline,” a vague notion from a civilian perspective. A formal change to the UCMJ is preferable to expecting a change to the Manual for Courts Martial from the current administration.
Reply from Rep. Moran (
Knowing of your interests in issues affecting the gay and lesbian community, I wanted to update you on legislation that was recently introduced to repeal the military’s discriminatory “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy.
Gays and lesbians have served and will continue to serve in the armed forces, regardless of the military or of the government’s official position on the issue. It is my view, however, that gays and lesbians should be able to serve in the military without the fear that their sexual orientation would be made known and result in their discharge.
Many opponents in lifting “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” have raised
concerns that allowing gay and lesbian soldiers to serve next to straight
soldiers represents a conflict. However, I believe that it is the conduct of
these soldiers by which they should be judged. In the same way that there rules
in place preventing intimate contact between male and female soldiers, there
are rules in place outlawing relations such relations between same-sex
soldiers. Militaries around the world, including our allies
In light of these facts and my personal views on the issue, I wanted to make you aware that I recently became an original cosponsor of the “Military Readiness Enhancement Act” (H.R. 1059). If enacted, this legislation would repeal, once and for all, the military’s discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy and prevent a person’s sexual orientation from being used to prevent their service in their country’s armed forces. Be assured that I will continue working with over 80 cosponsors of this bill to both raise awareness of the issue and fight for its eventual passage.
Please feel free to visit my website http://www.moran.house.gov that contains information on other topics of interest or sign up for the Moran E-Digest to receive periodic email updates and issue alerts.
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View 1993 Defense Authorization Bill (Appendix 10)
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Dear Rep. Moran
Recently CNN conducted an opinion poll that indicates that
close to 80% of Americans now believe that homosexuals should be able to serve
in the military, parallel to the practice of other major western democracies
and allies, especially (now)
As to how to write the rules of conduct and behavior, we
have corresponded in the past (back to 1993), and I have written books and
periodical and Internet articles. But the credible “professional” source that
Congress should accept is the 700 page report by the Rand Corporation,
commissioned in 1993 by then Secretary of Defense Les Aspin,
Rand Corporation (National Defense Research Institute). Sexual
As you probably know, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) has documented hundred of abuses of the policy over the years, with a self-serving tendency to look the other way when people are needed in combat.
Congress also has the ability to restore the draft or impose other forms of national service, as it continues to require young men to require for Selective Service. The combination of the “ban” and the potential to draft is an especially dangerous combination, apparent to someone who “connects the dots.” The policy does have a deleterious psychological effect on the credibility of homosexuals employed in other sensitive areas, such as law enforcements, those requiring clearances (particularly for those with domestic partners in the military) and even when teaching, as role models in the classroom, especially in front of lower income male students.
The CNN poll also documented the fact that many Americans believe that same-sex couples should enjoy the same benefits as heterosexually married couples (in “civil unions”), even if most Americans are likely to disapprove of the word “marriage” to characterize same-sex unions. For now, this contentious problem should remain with the states, and not generate a constitutional amendment giving a federal definition of marriage.