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September 22, 2010

Should Catholics support "Don't ask, Don't tell?"

My understanding is that the Catholic Church opposes employment discrimination against gays and lesbians unless there is some specific reason why sexual orientation is relevant to a particular position (e.g., priests, in the Church's view).  If I'm mistaken as to this premise, please let me know in the comments.  If I'm correct, then I'd welcome feedback on this short hypo:

Suppose that the U.S. military, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, had a policy permitting Catholics to serve, but forbidding them from revealing their identity as Catholics.  If their identity became known, they were discharged.  The rationale for the policy is hard to pin down, but usually it centered on the belief that Catholics' presence would undermine morale and compromise military functions because of non-Catholics' reaction to Catholics, particularly in the close quarters of combat.  In other words, the policy was justified based on soldiers' current views of Catholics, even if those views were prejudiced.  Catholics would (and should) have opposed such a policy, even if the open admission of Catholics into the military would have caused some soldiers to react negatively.  Catholics could have bolstered their arguments by pointing to the effective function of other nations' militaries that were open to Catholics.  In time, the inclusion of Catholics would reveal how unnecessary the exclusionary policy was, reducing harmful social prejudice in the process.

Is the current military policy on gays and lesbians different than this hypo?  If so, how?  Should Catholics react to current military policy differently?  If so, why?

Posted by Rob Vischer on September 22, 2010 at 07:58 AM in Vischer, Rob | Permalink

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The current military policy on gays and lesbians differs from the hypo in only one relevant aspect: Catholicism is clearly a choice; much evidence indicates that sexual orientation is not chosen. No one should support the current military policy. During the 9 years I served in the US Navy, there were many sailors known to be gay; it was an open secret. And yet we accomplished our missions. There is no reason to maintain the policy or the prior bans.

sean s.

Posted by: sean samis | Sep 22, 2010 9:32:52 AM

They do seem different. Not because Catholicism is a choice and sexual orientation is not (we could argue about choice of sexual orientation vs. sexual identity... but I sure hate arguing online)

By identifying oneself as a homosexual, one identifies how he relates (or is inclined to relate) toward others. From what I gather, those concerned with men and women serving "openly" aren't concerned for the soldiers who dislike homosexuality, but more for what might happen if men living in the same barracks publicly identify themselves as homosexuals. Not that things aren't happening already, but would openness just increase the likelihood? It's not an unreasonable position to hold. Also, would housing two openly homosexual men in the same barrack be the same as having a coed barrack? I seem to think so. Having Catholics together wouldn't have the same effect.

I'm not firmly on one side or the other of this issue because we don't have clear evidence that another military force of the same size and nature of ours with the same commitments and culture has not been affected by allowing homosexuals to serve "openly." If we could know that it would be no problem, I would see no reason for concern. I guess I lean the status quo because don't ask doesn't seem to be hurting our military readiness.... if it ain't broke don't fix it when the risk of breaking it is what it is.

Posted by: Joey | Sep 22, 2010 9:53:03 AM

Your analogy relies on this conclusion: "In other words, the policy was justified based on soldiers' current views of Catholics, even if those views were prejudiced." You would need to show that DADT is also justified based solely on prejudiced views of soldiers, and that those views are the same the kind of views, nothing more, as the view that dislikes someone because of his Catholic religious beliefs. This is not my field, but I believe there are arguments out there suggesting that policies like DADT have a more substantial basis. Perhaps your readers can refer us to those.

Posted by: Matt Bowman | Sep 22, 2010 10:27:32 AM

Joey, I hate arguing on line too, but I am quite comfortable debating on line. There is (IMHO) a big difference; a debate tries to follow the rules of reasoning (observation, logic, induction, deduction, inference from evidence) and repudiates fallacies. Arguing is just heat and noise.

sean s.

Posted by: sean samis | Sep 22, 2010 1:26:38 PM

Already one General has stated that those who would disagree with homosexuality should be forced out of the service. That is how it usually works. Homosexuals push for "acceptance" and then proceed to get rid of anyone who disagrees, in the name of "tolerance" of course. This would weaken our military and we are at war I would remind you. The military is not a social experiment. If it falls apart we will be vulnerable. Don't play with our national defense.

From the Catholic perspective it would be just to discriminate in this case. It is a matter of good order and protecting the rights of Christians who serve. I am a veteran by the way.

Posted by: Fr. J | Sep 22, 2010 2:07:46 PM

I think your understanding of the Church's position on employment discrimination is inaccurate. See, for example, "Some Considerations Concerning The Response To Legislative Proposals On The Non-Discrimination Of Homosexual Persons" by The Congregation Of The Doctrine Of The Faith. It states: "Finally, where a matter of the common good is concerned, it is inappropriate for church authorities to endorse or remain neutral toward adverse legislation even if it grants exceptions to church organizations and institutions. The church has the responsibility to promote family life and the public morality of the entire civil
society on the basis of fundamental moral values, not simply to protect herself from the application of harmful laws (cf. No. 17)."

The document elsewhere notes that employment non-discrimination legislation can be "adverse" for a number of reasons.

You may also want to track down USCCB's letter to Congress in May opposing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, even if it is amended to include a "bona fide occupation qualification" exemption and excludes religious entities.

Posted by: Chris D | Sep 22, 2010 4:11:29 PM

The distinction the Catholic Church makes between just and unjust discrimination does not apply to gay people. It applies to "homosexual persons." The Church recognizes certain kinds of "unjust discrimination" against "homosexual persons," but gay people can be discriminated against in just about any imaginable situation, because gay people are self-accepting and engage in (or believe they have the right to engage in) homosexual behavior. Homosexual behavior, according to the Catholic Church, is disordered, and society has a right to protect itself from disordered behavior on the part of gay people just as it would have the right to protect itself from disordered behavior of the mentally ill. Gay people may be discriminated against in the military, in teaching jobs, in housing, and any other number of areas.

The Catholic Church has absolutely no use for gay people, and consequently any Catholic who goes along with the teachings of the Church as laid out in documents from the CDF and the USCCB could (and probably should) oppose gays in the military . . . or anywhere else, for that matter. If you are a landlord and they are tenants, throw them out. If they are coaches or teachers, fire them.

If anyone wants the pertinent passages from the official documents, just ask.

Posted by: David Nickol | Sep 22, 2010 5:05:29 PM

One other comment while I am being acerbic (in case you couldn't tell). Catholics should not support DADT at all, because if gays shouldn't serve openly in the military, they shouldn't serve *secretly* in the military. Those who commit acts of "grave depravity" and engage in "behavior to which no one has any conceivable right" should not be tolerated in the military just because they are able to conceal their behavior from the authorities.

By the way, as I understand the CDF, homosexual orientation itself (without homosexual behavior) is grounds for "just discrimination" when it comes to military service. So not only should gays be excluded from the military, but also celibate, closeted homosexual persons.

Posted by: David Nickol | Sep 22, 2010 5:17:41 PM

Fr. J.

I do not know who the General is to whom you refer, much less what he said. But I reasonably assume the General is heterosexual (as current regulations require) so whatever foolishness he may have said, it cannot be fairly attributed homosexuals. Persons who do not agree with integrating homosexuals in the service will have the same choice that persons who disagreed with racial integration had: obey orders or leave the service. Since you served, you should know that the military generally does not care what you think about other service members, only whether you obey orders and follow the regs (if that's not repetitive). Or at least that's how it was in the Navy back in my day. That practice will be sufficient with regards to homosexuals now and in the future. There will be activists asking for more; that's inevitable. But I never noticed any difficulty on the part of the military to refuse requests they didn't agree with; so I think unreasonable demands can be easily refused.

Fr., there is no "experiment" in this; homosexuals have served honorably and valiantly in our military already. It won't fall apart because homosexuals can stop lying. We already know it will be OK.

Also Fr., there is no infringement of the rights of Christians because no one has the religious right to require that homosexuals be denied their rights. Homosexuals have religious rights too.

sean s.

Posted by: sean samis | Sep 22, 2010 6:09:36 PM

A quick and short response to Robert John Araujo, SJ:

I believe the Catholic Church has made its support of religious freedom clear. It need not speak separately on the matter of sexual orientation. If a homosexual person believes their life is in accord with God’s commands, then they are as entitled as anyone else to follow the dictates of their religious beliefs. The Church cannot oppose their equal standing in the civic sphere on the basis of their religion without negating the Church’s support of religious freedom.

sean s.

Posted by: sean samis | Sep 22, 2010 6:27:57 PM

Fr. J writes: "Homosexuals push for "acceptance" and then proceed to get rid of anyone who disagrees, in the name of "tolerance" of course."

I am afraid that Fr. J is correct, Sean. If you look what happens to people who just issue judgments about homosexual conduct, they are marginalized. If it were merely a matter of tolerance, then we would hear something like this: "Although I think that homosexual conduct is morally okay, I can understand why someone would disagree, especially if that person embraces a religious tradition that affirms the complementarity of gender." But we don't hear anything like that. What we hear, and experience, is hateful and disgusting name-calling, "Homphobe, bigot," etc.

Is it so strange to believe that gay sex is disordered? I know many people don't believe it. But it is certainly not irrational to believe in. We think that ignorance is a disorder of the mind, even if people seem to enjoy their ignorance. In fact, we don't think that's a very good argument for it. So, if it's reasonable to believe that brains have intrinsic purposes, why not our sexual powers? Again, some people don't believe it. But to consider the belief "irrational" and worthy of the anger and hate issued by gay activists is beyond the pale. In fact, it reinforces the anti-gay stereotype that homosexuals (especially males) are narcissists who demand the approval of others.

The tolerance card has been played. We've moved on now to the approval card. Those who do not approve will be punished. Pure and simple.

(I am using a pseudonym for fear of retribution by my co-workers. You can't be too careful among the "tolerant").

Posted by: Thomas Aquinas | Sep 22, 2010 6:34:18 PM

One more thing, Rob. The Catholic Church also disapproves of employment discrimination against the handicapped. But that does not mean that it opposes the ban of blind pilot from being pilots and bus drivers. So, the question is whether openly homosexual military personnel will harm or advance the interests of the military. I have no opinion on that, and defer to the experts. However, I don't in-principle oppose gays serving openly if the conditional factors would allow it. Thus, it's a matter of prudence, not justice.

As an aside, given the virtual absence of gays and women in the military for most of our history, why isn't anyone calling for a draft that would conscript gays and women into the military in order to remedy the wrong done to them in our military history? By my reckoning, we should have only gays and women in the military for the next 100 years to even come close to evening things out.

Posted by: Thomas Aquinas | Sep 22, 2010 6:39:41 PM

Thomas Aquinas:

You say, "[G]iven the virtual absence of gays and women in the military for most of our history . . . "

What makes you think gays have been absent? Sure, the ones who are discovered are kicked out, but how do you know how many were not discovered?

Posted by: David Nickol | Sep 22, 2010 7:17:54 PM

Thomas Aquinas:

Is it so strange to believe that gay sex is disordered? Is it so strange to believe black people are inferior? Is it so strange to believe Jews are responsible for the death of Our Lord? Is it so strange to believe women should be subservient?

• The negro has a religious nature. His docile, cheerful, and emotional disposition is much influenced by his immediate environment, whether those surroundings be good or evil. Catholic faith and discipline are known to have a wholesome effect on the race.

• It was for the laudable reason of protecting social morality and securing the maintenance of the Christian Faith, that canonical decrees were framed and repeatedly enforced against free and constant intercourse between Christians and Jews, against, for instance, bathing, living, etc., with Jews. To some extent, likewise, these were the reasons for the institution of the Ghetto or confinement of the Jews to a special quarter, for the prohibition of the Jews from exercising medicine, or other professions.

• The female sex is in some respects inferior to the male sex, both as regards body and soul.

• Moreover, nature also shows here her undeniable regulating power. There is no need to fear the overcrowding of the academic professions by women.

• In the medical calling, which next to teaching is the first to be considered in discussing the professions of women, there are at the present time in Germany about 100 women to 30,000 men. For the studious woman as for others who earn a livelihood the academic calling is only a temporary position. The sexes can never be on an equality as regards studies pursued at a university.

All the above items are from The Catholic Encyclopedia -- http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/

On the other hand, according to the Wall Street Journal

**********
Women More Likely to Hold Advanced Degrees
By Sara Murray

Women are more likely to hold advanced degrees — and therefore become doctors, lawyers and the like — than their male counterparts, according to a new report.
**********
http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2010/04/23/women-more-likely-to-hold-advanced-degrees/

How does anyone *know* he or she is not a bigot? Aren't bigots likely to be quite sure they are *not* bigots and to think people who are critical of them are being intolerant?

Posted by: David Nickol | Sep 23, 2010 12:56:53 AM

Chris, there are excellent common good arguments in favor of discrimination in this case. It is in the common good that our military be cohesive and disciplined. Social experimentation like this undermines combat effectiveness.

David, homosexuality is a disordered desire. We desire to help and heal, but that doesn't mean we close our eyes to the damage that sin can cause. Race and sexual preference are apples and oranges. Gay is not a race. Many African-Americans find your analogy offensive and frankly racist.

Sean, he is a Lt. General and head of the office looking into permitting homosexuals to serve openly. I have been in the military and it will become a career killer to profess Catholic beliefs if this policy goes through. The discrimination will be against Christians and increasingly that is okay in our society.

Posted by: Fr. J | Sep 23, 2010 12:16:00 PM

Race and sexual preference are apples and oranges.

Fr. J,

Bigotry, however, is still bigotry. Anti-Catholicism is not racism. And yet someone who discriminates against Catholics and someone who discriminates against blacks are both bigots. Discrimination based on race, creed, color, national origin, ancestry, marital status, or sex is unlawful. That does not mean that race is the same as marital status, or gender is the same as creed. There are similarities and differences among all protected categories. I would be the last to say sexual orientation is just like race. But homophobia has a lot in common with racism.

Posted by: David Nickol | Sep 23, 2010 12:50:59 PM

David,
Is it "homophobia" to believe that homosexuality is a disorded desire - a.k.a, a desire for something that does not correspond to the proper order and purpose of human sexuality? Do you think the belief that and acting upon such a desire is sinful is also "homophobia"?

If so, I am struggling to see how to relate this to what most people think of as racism - which I would define as the belief that being of another race makes one inherently inferior in some way.

Posted by: Michael | Sep 23, 2010 1:52:40 PM

Michael,

You ask a difficult question. Let me refer again to a passage from the online Catholic Encyclopedia that I reproduced above.

• It was for the laudable reason of protecting social morality and securing the maintenance of the Christian Faith, that canonical decrees were framed and repeatedly enforced against free and constant intercourse between Christians and Jews, against, for instance, bathing, living, etc., with Jews. To some extent, likewise, these were the reasons for the institution of the Ghetto or confinement of the Jews to a special quarter, for the prohibition of the Jews from exercising medicine, or other professions.

Here's another quote from the same article.

• Church legislation against Jewish holding of Christian slaves can be easily understood: as members of Christ, the children of the Church should evidently not be subjected to the power of His enemies, and thereby incur a special danger for their faith . . . .

Do you find those statements anti-Semitic? Do you think of the Jews today as Christ's enemies? It seems to me that this 100-year-old article, if written today, would be considered anti-Semitic. Catholics are not taught today that Jews are the enemies of Christ. Now, if I were to go back in a time machine and confront the authors with charges of anti-Semitism, I am sure they would vigorously defend themselves. They would claim they were relying on solid Church teachings that were very ancient and noncontroversial (among Catholics). So do we have a right to call them anti-Semitic today? Is that fair?

Suppose I believe that black people are, on average, less intelligent than white people. Suppose I note the disproportionate number of black men in prison, or the disproportionate number of out-of-wedlock births among black women, or the disproportionate number of abortions procured by black women. Or suppose I say, honestly, that every crime victim I have known (including myself) has been the victim of black criminals. Suppose because of that I am more wary of black men when I am walking on the street at night. Does that make me racist?

I suppose I would say one of the critical pieces of information I would need to answer your question is whether it is actually *true* that homosexuality is "intrinsically disordered." Are you sure it is? Are you sure it will be considered so 100 years from now? Or will the idea of homosexuality being intrinsically disordered seem as offensive as Jews being considered enemies of Christ?

I am sure there are many racists, anti-Semites, and anti-Catholics who are utterly convinced they are not bigots and that what they believe about blacks, Jews, or Catholics is true. Does that mean they are not bigots? I can only imagine that the Protestants who consider the Catholic Church the "whore of Babylon" do so out of deeply held, sincere religious conviction. Are they bigots or not?

One important question to ask, also, is whether those who believe that homosexuality is disordered do so because their intellects, untainted by emotions, grasp and assent to the teachings of the Church, or whether a gut feeling of revulsion for homosexuals moves them to embrace the Church's teachings because they are predisposed to believe anything bad about gay people. I think it is clear that many Catholics pretty much reject the teachings of the Church on homosexuality because of their own positive feelings and experiences about gay people they know (including their sons and daughters). Is it not possible that other people embrace the Church's teachings because of pre-existing *negative* feelings, and if so, isn't that a kind of bigotry?

I do think it is undeniable that the Church in the past was tainted with anti-Semitism. Pope John Paul II apologized for it, and the attitude of the Church toward the Jews today is vastly different than it was when I was in Catholic school (1950s and early 1960s). So I don't think it is wildly out of the question to speculate that the Church might be tainted with homophobia, and that it's teachings on homosexuality 100 years from now will make its teachings of today look bigoted.

To give a direct answer to your question, in 2010, I would not automatically label someone who believed that homosexuality was intrinsically disordered a homophobe. However, I would have a lot of questions for them, such as how they view the use of contraceptives, since the arguments against homosexuality are closely related to the arguments against contraception. I would want to know their views on how society should treat other sexual "sinners," for example, the divorced and remarried, or heterosexual couples who cohabit without marriage. I would want to know a whole host of things so I could judge if they consistently applied the principles of Catholic sexual morality in its entirety rather than just used Church teachings to criticize gay people.

Finally, I would say that even somehow God definitively revealed, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that homosexuality was intrinsically disordered, that would not mean that people who believed it were automatically absolved from the charge of homophobia. They would not be homophobic simply because they believed what God had revealed, but they could still be homophobic for other reasons. They could judge all homosexuals by false stereotypes, get the creeps when gay people are around. Fat, ugly men could persist in the belief that if they are in the shower room at the gym with a gay man, the gay man will want to make a pass at them. Indeed, it always seems to be the most repellant men who fear being preyed upon by homosexuals.

Posted by: David Nickol | Sep 23, 2010 3:00:19 PM

Thomas Aquinas;

It is ironic that homosexuals, having spent many years subjected to intolerant, “hateful and disgusting name-calling” are now criticized for having learned this bad habit from their “moral superiors”. Even today, it takes little effort to find religious persons or groups who still insist on intolerant, hateful and disgusting conduct toward homosexuals.

It would be better to have a tolerant, respectful attitude toward each other, but it is not reasonable to expect homosexuals and their supporters to conduct themselves any better than their opponents conduct themselves. So let’s ALL just get down off our high-horses and recognize that WE ALL have behaved badly.

Some person will insist on marginalizing opponents of openly-serving homosexuals. That is bad and needs to be identified as such and resisted. But after decades of being marginalized, one can hardly be surprised if gays and lesbians have become like their oppressors. They are no more deserving of hostility for what SOME do than are heterosexuals deserving of hostility for what SOME of them do.

Is it strange to believe that “gay sex” disordered? It’s strange that these comments follow your complaints about intolerance. Even if we give you the proposition that “gay sex” is disordered, (only for the sake of argument) that does not imply that homosexual conduct must be punished or proscribed.

In any event, what you or I think regarding the “orderliness” of “gay sex” does not matter, what IS strange is to insist on imposing your concept of “ordered sex” on others. If some person’s sexual behavior violates your sense of order, that does not entitle you to interfere in their conduct so long as their conduct does not infringe your rights. Believe what you like about “gay sex” but have the modesty and TOLERANCE to understand that others have different opinions, and they are not obligated to yours. They may even be right.

You ask, “if it's reasonable to believe that brains have intrinsic purposes, why not our sexual powers?” I am not sure whether I believe in intrinsic purposes at all, but again, let’s agree they exist and move to the relevant point: our “sexual powers” can have multiple purposes; some may be inconsistent with homosexuality, some may be inconsistent with heterosexuality. The problem of course is divining what these “intrinsic purposes” are. Belief in the existence of “intrinsic purposes” for our “sexual powers” is neither “irrational” nor “worthy of the anger and hate”. HOWEVER (a big ‘however’) you have moved beyond this belief toward the belief that the purposes you identify are exclusively correct and justify prohibitions against those who identify purposes you reject or disagree with. That conduct does not justify hate, but righteous anger may be your due. The hate and anger of “Gay activists” maybe “beyond the pale” but so impositions on them of an unwanted and arbitrary sexual standard.

You wrote, “Those who do not approve will be punished. Pure and simple.” No. It is neither pure nor simple. “Disapprovers” will only be punished if the rest of us allow it. It is not inevitable. It is within our power to prevent, and does not require punishment of “approvers”. The choice is false. However, strongly disagreeing with you is not a “punishment”; it is a right.

I am sorry you feel the need to use a pseudonym. But that’s not your coworkers’ fault, it’s just your choice. I am not using a pseudonym.

sean s.

Posted by: sean samis | Sep 23, 2010 3:56:57 PM

Fr. J.

Your “excellent common good arguments in favor of discrimination” don’t hold water. Homosexuals have already served in the military without compromising cohesion or discipline. Allowing them so serve openly is not an experiment.

You wrote that “homosexuality is a disordered desire.” That is merely an opinion. You are entitled to it, and others are entitled to disregard it. Limiting the freedoms of others on the basis of opinions like this would be unjust.

You comment on “the damage that sin can cause”. Precisely what is the “damage” that THIS “sin” causes? Certainly nothing greater than the sin of intolerance.

You wrote, “Gay is not a race.” That is correct, but the bulk of evidence indicates that, like race and gender, sexual orientation is not chosen. Whether it is genetic or developmental is an open question, but it is not chosen.

You wrote “Many African-Americans find [the] analogy [between race and sexual orientation] offensive and frankly racist. Frankly, I don’t care. African Americans do not OWN the concept of race. They are not the only Americans with a race; my Euro-mutt ancestors had a race. It’s not up to persons of one race to permit the analogy; the analogy is valid regardless of their sensibilities.

sean s.

Posted by: sean samis | Sep 23, 2010 8:09:15 PM

Michael,

It is not homophobia to believe that homosexuality is a “disordered desire”. But it is arrogant to suppose that there is only one “proper order and purpose of human sexuality”.

How is homophobia related to racism; which you define as “the belief that being of another race makes one inherently inferior in some way.”? Homophobia is “the belief that being of another sexual orientation makes one inherently inferior in some way.” Apples and oranges, perhaps. But apples and oranges have a LOT in common.

sean s.

Posted by: sean samis | Sep 23, 2010 8:10:01 PM

This hypothetical is perfectly legitimate as a thought experiment, but it abuses the essential functions of the hypothetical in an important way. An example makes this point rather well. It is legitimate to entertain a hypothetical in which one of the counterfactual premises is that two plus two equals five. What is not legitimate is to embed this hypothetical in a scenario of otherwise factual premises. Two plus two does not equal five, and there is no way to learn anything about real events from a thought experiment which requires one to suppose that it does. There is a reason why two plus two equals four, and not five. To entertain the opposite requires denying all of the implications of that reason.

So: quodlibet -- yes -- imaginary reality -- no.

As for the specifics, if Catholics were excluded from the armed forces, as they actually are in Islamic countries (or at least, as the Qur'an demands they be) would that be an injustice? Yes. And would the Catholics feel they were being discriminated against and prevented from participating fully in the society? Yes. Homosexuals probably and, in a sense understandably, feel the same way in America today. However, this does not change the fact that there are real and pressing reasons for excluding homosexuals, but there are no compelling reasons to exclude Catholics. After all, the Muslim barons of Spain who hired el Cid Campeador to fight their wars got good value for the mercenary dollars.

The presence of active homosexuals in the armed forces detracts from the fighting capabilities of the affected units. Everyone who has served on board a submarine and gone to bed with a sizable knife beside him in the bunk can explain this far better than I can. There are plenty of homosexuals in our armed forces, policy or not.

Posted by: Joel Clarke Gibbons | Sep 23, 2010 10:43:05 PM

"Everyone who has served on board a submarine and gone to bed with a sizable knife beside him in the bunk can explain this far better than I can."

Does anyone suppose the sailors who man American submarines sleep with knives handy to protect themselves from homosexuals? I have never been on a submarine, but I have seen plenty of photos of submarine sleeping quarters. A small space with ten or twelve bunks crammed into it would seem to be an unlikely place for a homosexual assault. How would you keep from waking everybody up?

Posted by: David Nickol | Sep 23, 2010 11:42:10 PM

My dear Mr. Nickel. Live and learn, as they say. War fighting involves extremely close quarters, especially on a submarine. Mixing straight and gay soldiers and sailors -- a situation that is of course a fact today -- is very disruptive to military effrectiveness and discipline. The Commandant of Marines has made that point many times.

As for the situation on submarines, what I suggested is the reality today. That is why the Pentagon recently decided to allow women to serve on submarines. The addition of the women is designed to make the service more palatable to straight men. As things now stand, no straight man would want to service on a submarine and be subjected to those conditions.

The addition of women solves one problem but aggravates another. While the straight sailors may now want to serve on submarines, their wives may not be equally enthusiastic. The divorce rate among career sailors is approaching 100% already. Making the provision of camp followers official is not going to help. But the Pentagon has to do whatever it must do.

Posted by: Joel Clarke Gibbons | Sep 24, 2010 8:55:45 AM

Joel;

I served on a submarine (a boomer, Blue Crew); we had at least one person on board known to be gay. He might have wanted to sleep with a knife, I don't know anyone else that did.

The problem you allude to is not about having a homosexual aboard, but a bully or a thug. Sexual orientation has nothing to do with that.

sean s.

PS: always remember: there are two kinds of ships in the Navy, submarines and targets.

ss.

Posted by: sean samis | Sep 24, 2010 9:05:18 AM

Joel,

Contrary to your “factual” claim, there are no “there are real and pressing reasons for excluding homosexuals” from military service. You get points for trying, but they don’t hold water.

You assert, “The presence of active homosexuals in the armed forces detracts from the fighting capabilities of the affected units.” This is a factual assertion needing some evidence to back it up; do you have any? Alexander the Great’s Army stands as a counter-example.

You wrote to David that “Mixing straight and gay soldiers and sailors -- a situation that is of course a fact today -- is very disruptive to military effrectiveness [sic] and discipline. The Commandant of Marines has made that point many times.” I am sure we can find a military leader who will tell you the same thing about mixing white and colored soldiers, or Christian and Jewish soldiers, or Muslim and Christian soldiers.

The US Military was not at all happy with Harry Truman’s order to desegregate, but they obeyed–And Lo!–the military adapted. There is no factual basis for thinking this situation would be any different; especially since, as you correctly note, “There are plenty of homosexuals in our armed forces, policy or not.” Exactly correct, severely undermines your thesis, and our military operates well anyway. Military discipline already limits fraternization with and among service members, such rules are sufficient for all forms of sexual intimacy between service members. To the extent the rules are not sufficient, they can be improved without distinguishing same-sex from different-sex contacts.

You wrote, “As for the situation on submarines, what I suggested is the reality today. ... As things now stand, no straight man would want to service on a submarine and be subjected to those conditions.” OK, can you direct us all to a credible source verifying these claims? Such events would result in numerous Courts Martial for sexual assault, please refer us to a source for the statistics verifying these claims. You need not cite any specific cases.

I elided over another claim you made: “That is why the Pentagon recently decided to allow women to serve on submarines. The addition of the women is designed to make the service more palatable to straight men.” First, please provide an authoritative statement by the US Navy saying that this was their motivation for the decision.

Second; if the submarine service is rife with sexual predators, how does putting women on the boats make them “palatable” to “straight men”? How does that work?

sean s.

Posted by: sean samis | Sep 24, 2010 10:01:20 AM

Joel Clark Gibbons:

You say: "As for the situation on submarines, what I suggested is the reality today. That is why the Pentagon recently decided to allow women to serve on submarines. The addition of the women is designed to make the service more palatable to straight men. As things now stand, no straight man would want to service on a submarine and be subjected to those conditions."

However, everything I have read suggests current crews are opposed to allowing women on submarines.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/04/21/AR2010042105397.html
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/13/us/13navy.html
http://www.14olcott.net/images/stories/john/Submarines/WomenServingAboardSubmarines_JAM_022410.pdf

Posted by: David Nickol | Sep 24, 2010 11:52:21 AM

David, the 1st amendment mentions religion, but not sodomy. Homosexuality is intrinsically disordered and that is a Catholic teaching that will not change. The bigotry is primarily by homosexuals against Catholics.

Sean, having been in the service I can state that openly homosexual soldiers will be a problem and will decrease our fighting ability. That is good enough reason to prohibit it. Notice how they are trying to get this done without extensive discussions? That is a sure sign they know it is an issue, but want to shove it down our throats. The damage of sin is that mortal sin kills sanctifying grace and dooms one to hell. That is pretty damaging.

Posted by: Fr. J | Sep 24, 2010 11:53:24 AM

Fr. J;

The First Amendment’s protection of religious freedom extends to homosexuals as well as to others. Obviously they believe their conduct is condoned by their religious beliefs, and religious liberty means one has the right to decide what religious beliefs one will follow. If Catholics merely assert their religious beliefs (condemning homosexuality or at least the conduct) then there is no rational basis for condemning the Church. However, when Catholics oppose the right of others (homosexuals or whomever else) to the free exercise of their religious beliefs, then that opposition deserves condemnation EVEN IF THAT OPPOSITION IS BASED ON CATHOLIC BELIEFS. This is the dilemma of living in a free society: religious pluralism is inevitable and just. Limiting the rights and opportunities of persons with different beliefs is an injustice worthy of condemnation EVEN WHEN THESE LIMITS CONFORM TO SOMEONE’S RELIGIOUS BELIEFS. Saying that “the Church teaches X” does not make IMPOSING X appropriate in a free society. Advocate away; persuade to your heart’s content. But when advocacy turns from persuasion to imposition, an injustice is done. If a free society rejects your “sage advice”, that is not oppression or bigotry.

Fr. J, having been in the service, I can state that openly homosexual members will not be a problem and will not decrease our fighting ability UNLESS these openly homosexual members are surrounded by homophobic members who put their homophobia ahead of their duties. I seriously doubt that will be the case. I have great faith in the adaptability of our military; and their ability to know and do their duties.

You wrote “Notice how they are trying to get this done without extensive discussions?” Fr, this topic has been in the air for YEARS. DADT was enacted 10 years ago, after much public controversy. The discussions have been extensive and chronic.

sean s.

Posted by: sean samis | Sep 24, 2010 1:02:42 PM

Sean, I reread the 1st amendment and found no mention of sodomy. I didn't realize that sodomy is now claimed as a religion. The issue here is not freedom of religion, but the right of the military for the common good to exclude those unfit for service. Another issue, pertaining to religious liberty, is that if homosexuals do serve openly we both know that Catholics, and others, will suffer discrimination. Didn't we already see people studying for Social Work being persecuted for their faith? The imposition will be on us. You have been in and know what I say is true. The gay captain filling out an evaluation of the devout Catholic corporal...well you know it will be a career ender.

I have been in the service also and I say the opposite. They would not have been welcome in my unit. It would have been an issue and led to conflict in the unit. If you have watched the news you would have seen how they tried to slip it in and the GOP stopped it. They know come November it won't happen. The military is not a toy for social experiments. We should not play around with our national security. This is why people don't trust liberals on defense issues.

Posted by: Fr. J | Sep 24, 2010 8:38:53 PM

Fr. J.

LOL! Read the First Amendment again! You will not find any mention of clergy, liturgy, prayer, lent, communion, any of the commandments, faith, hope, charity, etc. etc. etc. So I guess, BY YOUR REASONING these are not part of religion either! One of the issues here IS freedom of religion: freedom to decide what your religion requires of you and permits to you, and to not be punished for your beliefs.

Regarding “right of the military for the common good to exclude those unfit for service”, the military can exclude only those for whom it has a legitimate reason to exclude. They do not have a legitimate reason to exclude homosexuals any more than they have a legitimate reason to exclude Catholics. That point has been discussed extensively.

Regarding “if homosexuals do serve openly we both know that Catholics, and others, will suffer discrimination.” Since that is not true, neither one of us “knows” it. A falsehood cannot be “known”.

Regarding “The imposition will be on us. You have been in and know what I say is true.” I served. I know this is not true. The only imposition is the requirement to leave others alone.

Regarding “The gay captain filling out an evaluation of the devout Catholic corporal...well you know it will be a career ender.” Which is no worse than the devout Catholic captain filling out the evaluation of the gay corporal. It is not a greater injustice to end the career of a Catholic than to end the career of a homosexual. Neither Captain in these situations should abuse their positions; but neither one is worse than the other if they do.

Regarding “They would not have been welcome in my unit. It would have been an issue and led to conflict in the unit.” Exactly. This confession of yours is revealing. The conflict in your unit would not have been caused by the homosexual, but BY YOU. The same thing was said by racist whites in the Forties and Fifties. It was wrong then, and your attitude is wrong now.

sean s.

Posted by: sean samis | Sep 25, 2010 1:15:44 PM

Sean, my point is that homosexuality is not a religion. It is not a protected behavior. I would argue, as many do, that the military DOES have a legitimate reason to exclude homosexuals. To experiment at the risk of our national security is insane. We have seen Christians being discriminated against because of their beliefs about homosexuality. In Georgia a student was denied a Social Work degree and that has happened before. In Canada there was an attempt to deny Christians teaching licenses. Homosexuals will not leave us alone. They want full acceptance not mere tolerance. We both have been in the service and know that deviation from the party line kills careers, in this case Catholics will be persecuted. I prefer not to wait for that to happen before responding.

The conflict in my unit would be a result of injecting a homosexual into it. Homosexuality is not a race and African Americans hate it when you make that argument. It is racist. But your end point is telling. My "attitude is wrong." I think that homosexuality is "wrong." Someone is going to win and the loser will have his attitude adjusted by the powers that be. I prefer that I not be the loser. The conflict is a result of homosexuals imposing their lifestyle on the 98.5% of us that aren't homosexual. Eventually I hope that the psychologists reverse the political decision to take it out of the DSM.

Posted by: Fr. J | Sep 26, 2010 12:45:25 PM

Fr. J, my point is that if some religions can condemn homosexuality as a sin, then other religions can uphold it as a virtue, and their believers have a First Amendment right to the practice of their religion as much as anyone else does. And that makes homosexuality as protected as heterosexuality.

You (and many others) can and do ARGUE that “the military DOES have a legitimate reason to exclude homosexuals.” The problem is that you can’t tell us what that LEGITIMATE reason is. You express concerns about unit cohesion, but then say that it will be homophobes who will cause disruptions, not homosexuals. You tell us that permitting homosexuals to be open about their sexual orientation is an “insane” experiment and then acknowledge that homosexuals are already present in the military. Apparently it’s OK for them to serve as long as they hide their sexual orientation. Honesty is apparently a bad military policy.

I think, Fr. J, that the essential disagreement between you and I is that you seem to be concerned with the rights of Catholics and Christians, but you seem indifferent to the rights of others. You say that, “We have seen Christians being discriminated against because of their beliefs about homosexuality” but you never express concern about homosexuals being discriminated against. In a prior post you worried about a “gay captain filling out an evaluation of the devout Catholic corporal … well you know it will be a career ender”, but you did not consider a devout Catholic captain filling out the evaluation of the gay corporal; perhaps you just don’t care? You are very concerned about how homosexuals behave, but ignore how homosexuals have been treated. Matthew Shepard was robbed, pistol-whipped, tortured, and tied to a fence in a remote, rural area in Wyoming, and left to die. All because he was gay. Google his name and look at his picture and tell us that he is not one of God’s children.

Since every American has a race, comparisons between sexual orientation and race are not offensive to any particular race. Therefore, I do not need permission from African Americans, or anyone else for that matter. If they hate me for noticing the similar fundamental natures of race, gender and sexual orientation, well, I forgive them.

You are concerned that your attitude will be “adjusted” if your point of view loses. Don’t worry about that. My point of view on many issues has lost, and nobody has succeeded yet in “adjusting” my attitude.

sean s.

Posted by: sean samis | Sep 26, 2010 5:07:56 PM

Some African-Americans may object when analogies are made between race and sexual orientation, but it is certainly not "racist" to make such analogies.

If/when gays are allowed to serve openly in the US military, there will still be more soldiers visiting prostitutes and more premarital sex and extramarital sex among military men and women than there will be homosexual activity. But of course visiting prostitutes, fornication, and adultery are "normal."

The following countries already permit gays to serve openly in the military:

Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Uruguay.

For the United States to follow suit would not be "experimentation."

Posted by: David Nickol | Sep 26, 2010 6:55:14 PM

By the way, today is the 160th anniversary of the day Congress abolished flogging in the US Navy. There were some officers who were sure it would lead to the break-down of discipline. They were wrong.

sean s.

Posted by: sean samis | Sep 28, 2010 5:42:00 PM

As an American interested in the political/cultural heatlh of my country, as a combat vet, and a Catholic, I'm very interested in the question presented. Last June, Archbishop Broglio, head of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, issued this statement:

https://milarch.org/inc/data/dontasklegislation%202.pdf

It's worth reading what he has to say.

Posted by: CJM | Oct 1, 2010 12:00:59 AM

"By identifying oneself as a homosexual, one identifies how he relates (or is inclined to relate) toward others."


Um, by identifying as catholic, you state how you identify to me, the homosexual; that I'm a sinner.

Posted by: Joseph R. Yungk | Oct 30, 2010 11:53:57 PM

Regarding what is homophobic, if you really feel a need to govern someone else' behavior with an unsupported statement that it somehow effects you personally and try to outlaw it, I'd say you're acting out of an irrational fear.

I've read some of the opinions from the vatican and none of them is rational or supported by any authority other than their own.
The prevailing argument for opposing Don't ask, don't tell, is they feel the need to continue to tell all practicing gay men they are sinners regardless of the soldier or the faith of whom he is ministering too. And your priests, are the ones being discriminated against for religion?

so let me get this right:

if I'm dying in the service and I ask a Chaplain to take a note to my lover, that "Chaplain" wants to be able to tell me I'm sinning if I tell him I do not subscribe to that doctrine?

And you're the one calling that religious freedom?
And what about the soldier who is serving his country and his religious freedom?
Is the serviceman there for his country or your church?

I think the answers to this question are very clear.

Posted by: Joseph R. Yungk | Oct 31, 2010 1:11:06 AM

And if I can get this right for "Fr. J", you don't want gays to have equal rights because you might not then have the chance to discriminate against them?

I see a very distinct pattern forming.

I also see you seem to think that discriminating against homosexuals is to protect the rights of "Christians"? why are your rights above any other religion that does not agree to fearing homosexuals in such a way? Why does your religious right to not be around people of certain preferences trump one's right to serve his country? How exactly does this effect national security? Please explain.

You also claim I'm "imposing [my] lifestyle on [you]. I'm asking for equal rights, not demanding you marry a man. How is it that I'm imposing something on you when the catholic church has been forcing this of dogma on me for as long as I can remember?
By the way, your statistics are quite wrong, there are not 98.5% of the general population whom feel this way. And you think that just because such a number is small it would give you a right to tell every one of us how to conduct our lives? That is neither Christian nor Representational Democracy. Our system is in place to avoid the tyranny of the majority, and you just outlined exactly why we need such measures.
I've said before on homophobia, if you have an irrational fear that you cannot explain in a rational way, you're homophobic.

Posted by: Joseph R. Yungk | Oct 31, 2010 3:21:20 AM

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