I spent last Wednesday afternoon watching eight individuals testify before the U.S. House Armed Services personnel subcommittee on the 15th anniversary of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law.
As expected, there were emotional testimonials about the discrimination experienced by homosexual former service men and women and equally ardent condemnations of gays in the military.
I’ve seen a lot of folks opposed to gays in the armed forces advocate positions that combine a personal bias against homosexuals with a fuzzy statistical figure or a “fact” from a medical study. And that’s fine, Americans have a long history of not doing their homework and looking foolish on social issues.
But last Wednesday, this foolishness was elevated to an art form when Elaine Donnelly, founder and president of the Center for Military Readiness, took the mic.
I thought she looked familiar, and a quick trip on the intertubes reminded me that Donnelly used to be a water bearer for ERA opponent and conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly.
And since Donnelly has been primarily focused on keeping women out of the armed services, apparently, the queers are just the cherry on her discrimination sundae.
Donnelly spoke in dark tones of gay soldiers spreading “HIV positivity” throughout the troops. She raised the specter of “transgenders in the military.” She said lesbians would take pictures of people in the showers.
In a prepared statement, Donnelly alleged that heterosexual soldiers would be on the business end of “inappropriate passive/aggressive actions common in the homosexual community” and raised the prospect of “forcible sodomy.” She also said “exotic forms of sexual expression” threaten the cohesion of the ranks.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe the Uniform Code of Military Justice currently addresses said threats to said cohesion.
Donnelly also warned that the “sexualized atmosphere” created by gay service members would have a “devastating effect” and drive out “people who do have religious convictions.”
The hearing got heated after Donnelly cited an incident in which she brought up the subject of “a group of black lesbians who decided to gang-assault a fellow soldier.”
Donnelly’s evidence came in the form of a letter allegedly written by Cynthia Yost, but Donnelly failed to mention that sexual assault reportedly took place in 1974 and that Ms. Yost apparently refused to report it and that the Pentagon has no record of the incident nor of having investigated it.
Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Pa.), an Iraq war veteran, just about had an aneurysm when he heard Donnelly’s comments, saying her words were “an insult to me and many soldiers.” He was angered by her suggestion that service members “aren’t professional enough to openly serve with gay troops while successfully completing their military mission.”
Donnelly responded, “What would you say to Cynthia Yost, the woman on the training exercise assaulted by a group of lesbians?”
Rep. Chris Shays (R-Conn.) pointed to a lesbian (a retired captain) testifying and asked Donnelly, “Would you please tell me, Miss Donnelly, why I should give one twit about this woman’s sexual orientation, when it didn’t interfere one bit with her service?”
Donnelly regrouped with something about “forced intimacy,” but Shays shot her down with, “You’re saying she has no right to serve because she happens to have a different sexual orientation than you.”
There was tons more, but I don’t have the space for it. The best aspect of the proceedings was watching the looks of stunned disbelief from just about everybody in the hearing room, not only at Donnelly’s comments but from others on her side.
It’s safe to say that a war of attrition isn’t something confined to the United States military because, sooner or later, Donnelly and her ilk will find themselves confined to the dust bin of history.