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Where do the candidates stand on defense and social policies? Sometimes it's hard to tell.


Presidential Candidates Change Answers on Homosexual Issues

Where do the candidates stand on defense and social policies? Sometimes it’s hard to tell.

Candidates aspiring to be Commander-in-Chief should state their position on military social policies that directly affect discipline, morale, and overall readiness.  Voters need to know, for example, what standards and principles will the next president apply on issues such as homosexuals in the military?  To obtain answers, on November 1 the Center for Military Readiness began conducting a non-partisan 2008 Presidential Candidate Survey

Responses so far raise more questions than provide answers. We are left wondering how far would some candidates go in forcing feminist and homosexual agendas on the armed forces?  And why are other candidates slow to take a principled stand against harmful social engineering in the military?  These are inconvenient questions, but Americans need answers before primary  votes are cast in 2008.  

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee provided solid responses to most of CMR’s questions, which assign highest priority to military necessity, and support compliance with regulations and law regarding women in or near direct ground combat.  Huckabee also opposes Selective Service registration of young women, female sailors serving on submarines, the still-unratified CEDAW Treaty, tax-funded feminist power bases in the Pentagon, and problematic family policies that subsidize and increase single parenthood, particularly in the National Guard. 

Huckabee endorsed the 1993 law banning gays from the military, but with contradictions.  In a transcribed interview with Associated Press editors, reported on April 24, 2007, Huckabee said, “I’m not sure that being homosexual should automatically disqualify a person from the military.  If a person can do his or her job, you know that’s not for me the biggest issue.”

The military, however, is different from civilian occupations.  To encourage good order and discipline, the law states that homosexuals are not eligible to serve.  When asked about the April quote, Governor Huckabee’s campaign said he “stands by” his support for the 1993 law.  He and other Republicans, however, also have expressed support for “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” without explaining what they mean.

On the one hand we have the law that Congress passed with bipartisan veto-proof majorities, “Section 654, Title 10,” which could have been named the “Military Personnel Eligibility Act of 1993.”  The statute, which stands apart from the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), codified pre-Clinton Defense Department regulations stating that “homosexuality is incompatible with military service.”  The courts have declared it constitutional several times. 

We also have “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” a problematic policy that Congress rejected, and which former President Bill Clinton imposed on the armed forces in the form of inconsistent enforcement regulations.  Clinton’s convoluted policy invites “closet” homosexuals to join the military, even though the 1993 law states they are not eligible to serve. 

Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) admitted during a June 3 New Hampshire debate that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was supposed to be a “transitional policy” toward her husband’s ultimate goal, which she shares: full acceptance of open homosexuality in the military.

Presidents are obliged to enforce laws, but not their predecessors’ administrative policies. If the next president faithfully enforces the law, while eliminating the confusion caused by Clinton’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, the number of homosexual discharges would plummet.  Rules consistent with the law would deter enlistment by homosexuals, who still can serve our country in other ways.

None of the Democratic candidates responded to CMR Presidential Survey questions but we are not entirely unaware of their positions.  Former Navy Secretary Richard Danzig, an outspoken advocate of women serving in submarines, is an advisor to Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.).  During a July 23 debate, Senators Clinton, Obama, Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), former Senator John Edwards (D-NC), and former Governor Mike Gravel (D-Ark.) agreed that Selective Service should register young women. 

Together with Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.), and Governor Bill Richardson (D-NM), all have expressed support for gays in the military.  If a Democrat is elected and Congress repeals the 1993 law, will a new Democratic president mandate equal housing and social status for gay military couples, and “sensitivity training” to enforce acceptance in the ranks? 

On the Republican side, the campaigns of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney said that they do not answer surveys, perhaps leaving unchanged positions reportedly taken years ago.  In December 1999, for example, the New York Times reported that Rudy Giuliani, who was expected to run against Senate candidate Hillary Clinton, agreed with her support for professed homosexuals in the military.

In 1994, Senate candidate Mitt Romney secured the endorsement of the pro-gay Massachusetts Log Cabin Republicans by signing a letter supporting “gays and lesbians being able to serve openly and honestly in our nation’s military.”  Correspondent Anderson Cooper confronted Romney with this statement during the November 28 CNN debate. Romney answered in terms of “Don’t ask, don’t tell’:  Yes, I didn’t think it would work. I didn’t think “don’t ask/don’t tell” would work. That was my — I didn’t think that would work. I thought that was a policy, when I heard about it, I laughed. I said that doesn’t make any sense to me. And you know what? It’s been there now for, what, 15 years? It seems to have worked.” But we still don’t know Romney’s position on the 1993 law.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) voted for the 1993 law banning homosexuals from the military, and answered the CMR Survey in 2000.  McCain’s current campaign has only provided an April 2007 letter from his Senate office to a prominent activist for gays in the military. The letter mislabels the law “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and indicates support for that policy.

Former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson sent CMR an otherwise admirable statement reflecting the same contradiction. Thompson’s statement  endorses the proper purpose of the military, praises our military men and women, and adds:  “Fred Thompson supports current law regarding gays in the military and current Defense Department policies.  He sees no reason to alter this approach, especially during times of conflict and global instability.”

Romney and Giuliani said something similar in the June 5 New Hampshire debate.  But liberal activists are the only ones advocating repeal of the 1993 law banning homosexuals from the military. When the current conflict subsides, should the activists achieve their goal? 

California Congressman Duncan Hunter has shown consistent leadership on military social issues. In 1993 he supported “the question” about homosexuality that used to be on induction forms.  Clinton dropped the routine question, but it can and should be restored at any time.  In 2005 Hunter spearheaded efforts to halt Army violations of policy and law on the issue of women in land combat, but former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld intervened, allowing the situation to worsen. 

The campaign of Congressman Ron Paul (R-Tex.) provided partial answers, starting with agreement that the needs of the military should take priority over “equal opportunity.”  Paul opposes registration or drafting of women, the CEDAW treaty, and tax-funded power-bases for feminists in the Pentagon.  He took no position on women in land combat and the 1993 law regarding gays in the military, but endorsed the current “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy as “adequate for the time-being.”

Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Co.) has not responded to the CMR Survey, but this is an “open book test,” which CMR will update through the conventions and general election.  Voters cannot afford to be blindsided again.

In 1992 homosexual activists contributed heavily to the campaign of Bill Clinton, who promised to lift the ban on gays in the military.  Then-President George H. W. Bush and 1996 presidential candidate Senator Bob Dole did not debate that issue with Clinton, who won and held the White House for eight tumultuous years. 

The Democratic National Platforms of 2000 and 2004 said little about controversial military social issues, but then-Vice President Al Gore initially said that he would only appoint members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who agreed with him on gays in the military.  The unsuccessful 2004 nominee, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), previously had presented testimony supporting efforts to lift the ban.   

In contrast, the Republican National Platforms of 2000 and 2004 affirmed the principle embodied in law: “homosexuality is incompatible with military service.”  The platforms also expressed support for military culture, the all-volunteer force, the advancement of women in the military and their exemption from ground combat units, and opposition to a military draft or compulsory national service.

George W. Bush ran successfully on this platform language: — the 2008 Republican nominee could do the same.  Ideologues hostile to the military are orchestrating a determined campaign to achieve their goals shortly after Inauguration Day.  Will a presidential leader emerge who is prepared to defend the culture of the only military we have?  The question is critical to national security, and the candidates should answer.

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Written By

Ms. Donnelly is a former member of the 1992 Presidential Commission on the Assignment of Women in the Armed Forces and President of the Center for Military Readiness.

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