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Posted on Sep 7, 2004 Print this Article

JOHN KERRY TESTIFIED, VOTED FOR GAYS IN THE MILITARY

The importance of the 2004 presidential election race demands that voters evaluate the views of both President George W. Bush and Massachusetts Sen. John F. Kerryon all national defense issues, including personnel policies that affect good order, discipline, and morale. The lives and missions of young volunteers in uniform must not be made more difficult and more dangerous due to problematic Clinton-era social engineering policies that should have been revised or eliminated long ago.

The actions and inactions of the Bush Administration with regard to the 1993 law banning homosexuals from the military are discussed nearby. Sen. John Kerry, now the Democratic presidential nominee, voted against legislation to ban homosexuals from the military, and made several on-the-record statements that revealed an elitist and sometimes disdainful attitude toward anyone disagreeing with his views.

The Kerry/Edwards 2004 website does not emphasize the senator’s support for open homosexuality in the military, but states that “[John Kerry] was one of a few senators to testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee and call on the President to rescind the ban on gay and lesbian service members.” The record of that hearing indicates that four of six senators testifying on May 7, 1993, advocated lifting the ban, but Sen. John Kerry was the only one to ridicule the feelings of ordinary soldiers, and to disparage the character and motives of some of the people who disagreed with him. (Senate Committee on Armed Services, Hearing 103-845, May 7, 1993, ISBN 0-16-046288-6, U. S. Govt. Printing Office)

CMR Note:The following excerpts from the May 7, 1993, testimony of Sen. John Kerry are useful in discerning what sort of policies might be implemented by a future Kerry/Edwards Administration. CMR has underlined some passages for emphasis.

Personal Discomfort

Senator Kerry began his testimony by acknowledging his “discomfort” in disagreeing on a “deeply felt emotional issue” with popular sentiment and persons such as Colin Powell, then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and former Persian Gulf War commander General Norman Schwarzkopf. He expressed pride in the superiority of America’s military, and the need for “cohesiveness, effectiveness, and force readiness.” The basic focus of his testimony, however, was not on the needs of the military, but the desires of individual homosexuals who want to join the military:

Senator KERRY. And so, having said all of that, Mr. Chairman, let me be very clear about my own views. I think it is fundamentally wrong to continue to deny gay and lesbian Americans the right to participate in the armed forces of the United States. Why? Because, quite simply, there is nothing inherent in homosexuality that makes a gay American incapable of serving… (pp. 476-479)

Kerry cited most of the usual “civil rights” arguments made by advocates who see the issue as one of “discrimination” comparable to irrational prejudices against blacks and other minorities in another era. He also praised the experience of homosexuals in foreign militaries, and suggested that the issue was no more complicated than simple “tolerance” of others, as mandated by the U.S. Constitution.

Kerry’s lofty rhetoric was challenged, however, by other senators who expressed more practical and genuinely sensitive concerns about sexual privacy in close-quarter military living conditions that offer no privacy. Sen. Kerry dismissed such concerns with a remark that probably drew laughs at the expense of ordinary military men and women:

Senator KERRY. …Now, take the issue of living in close quarters and communal showers. Some folks say they do not mind living or showering with someone who is gay as long as the fact is not explicit. Only once it becomes explicit, somehow the world is going to end. Now, I do not know exactly what those who express those kinds of fears are thinking. I mean are they that irresistible? I suspect some of the guys who most fear being approached by gay men also consider themselves irresistible to heterosexual women, and they are probably sadly mistaken on both counts, Mr. Chairman.” (p. 479-481)

Codes of Personal Conduct

Kerry denied that if the ban were lifted, “…all restraints on behavior [would] go out the window.” Senator Nunn challenged that statement, and closely questioned Kerry on contradictions between his proposal and specific provisions of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Chairman NUNN.“Senator Kerry, could I interrupt you right there and just ask, would you have one code of conduct for everybody just alike?

Senator KERRY. No, sir.

Chairman NUNN.You would have two.

Senator KERRY. No. I would simply say to you that you currently have distinctions in American society with respect to marriage, and I do not know a State--Hawaii I guess is talking about recognizing it. I do not think there is a State in the country that recognizes that.

So the standard of behavior ought to be one officer's club, one enlisted, one sort of standard within there, and if somebody wants to walk around holding hands, we are big enough to tolerate that. I mean, for God's sakes, men were dancing with men in the war when they did not have any women around.

Chairman NUNN. You would have just one code of conduct.

Senator KERRY. One code, absolutely, but I would say¾

Chairman NUNN. What about in States where they do allow so-called partnerships? A number of States have gone to that. Would that mean that the partners of the same sex would be allowed the same privileges as a wife or husband?

Senator KERRY.No, I do not believe so. I think you would have to have the national standard there, and I think you have to—as Senator Warner said, there is a time period for the rest of the Nation to begin to accept what that standard is going to be.

Chairman NUNN. So you would start off with two separate codes.

Senator KERRY. No, I would start off with one code. Well, yes, I said I would accept the notion that you have heterosexual marriages and that is a current standard in this country, and that is the way our legal system is currently based, and I would not suddenly wrestle that apart within the military, and I do not think you have to, and I do not think that is being asked for. (p. 481)

CMR Note:It is interesting to note that in this discussion, Kerry used the neutral word “distinctions” to describe laws supporting traditional marriage instead of the negative word “discrimination.”

It is also important to remember that this discussion took place ten years before the “current standard” of heterosexual marriages was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of Massachusetts, Kerry’s own state, in the November 2003 Goodrich decision. At the present time Sen. Kerry says he opposes same-sex marriages, but he has not supported any legislative measure or constitutional amendment to prevent court rulings such as Goodrich from being imposed on other states. In 1996 Kerry was one of only 14 senators to oppose the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). In an article published in the homosexual journal The Advocate, Sen. Kerry denounced the DOMA for being “as unconstitutional and unnecessary as it is mean-spirited and malicious.” (Sept. 3, 1996)

The Kerry/Edwards 2004 website indicates that Sen. Kerry supports civil unions for federal employees, but his office has not answered CMR’s inquiries regarding his position on civil unions in the military. Same-sex marriage remains an unsettled question, but Kerry’s doctrinaire support for professed homosexuals in the military does not inspire confidence.

Chairman NUNN. I believe your words were, no person who serves in the military should be required to deny a fundamental part of their being.” (p. 481)

At that point Sen. Kerry tried to dodge Sen. Nunn’s questions by dismissing the importance of them:

Chairman NUNN.The Uniform Code of Military Justice basically defines certain criminal statutes relating to sexual behavior. Would you change those statutes, or would you simply not enforce those statutes?

Senator KERRY. They are not enforced today.

Chairman NUNN. They are enforced.

Senator KERRY.Well, I mean --

Chairman NUNN.Perhaps not enforced in every instance.

Senator KERRY.Not in the bedroom, they are not.

Chairman NUNN.Senator Kerry, you are wrong. There are people who are discharged every year in the military for adultery--not a whole lot, but they are.

Senator KERRY. I agree. That is when it becomes public. (p. 482)

CMR Note: Prominent advocates of homosexuals in the military, such as Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), have also denounced “antiquated” rules against heterosexual misconduct in private, including adultery. In 1998 the Center for Military Readiness, with the help of Sen. Sam Brownback(R-KS), successfully countered Clinton Administration efforts to relax regulations governing personal misconduct in the military, including adultery. Such efforts would probably be renewed if Sen. Kerry were elected Commander-in-Chief.

Status vs. Conduct

At this session and other hearings of the SASC, debate often hinged on unrealistic expectations—particularly the notion that homosexual activists were only demanding the right to serve discretely in the military. Sen. Kerry was fairly clear in stating, however, that almost any type of sexual expression would be acceptable to him, since personal conduct rules are of no consequence anyway. Sen. Nunn immediately recognized how unworkable Kerry’s attempt to draw lines between acceptable and unacceptable behavior would be in actual practice.

Chairman NUNN.Let me ask you this question. When someone stands up and announces they are gay or lesbian, does that not indicate something about their sexual conduct?

Senator KERRY.Yes, but it is not lewd and lascivious behavior in and of itself. It is stating a status… (p. 482)

Chairman NUNN.Let me ask this question. Would gay men and lesbians' off-base behavior come under the Uniform Code of Military Justice?

Senator KERRY. If it breached the accepted code and law, yes. If it does not, no.

Chairman NUNN.Well, the basic code and law, that means that¾what about two women or two men engaging in homosexual behavior off-base?

Senator KERRY.If they are doing it openly and publicly, they are subject to the same standard as a heterosexual couple doing that openly and publicly. If they are doing it in the privacy of their bedroom—

Chairman NUNN. You just changed the Uniform Code of Military Justice. There is no provision in there that says anything about open and public. 

Senator KERRYWell, I realize that.

Chairman NUNN. So we would have to change it. Under your definition we would have to change it, right?

Senator KERRYSenator, it is not enforced today.

Chairman NUNNSo you are saying let us not enforce it for anybody. 

Senator KERRY. Well, I am saying either that or change it.

Chairman NUNN.Do you think we ought to change it, because that is what we have got to consider. We cannot just have rules in the law that are ignored and basically tell our military people we are going to ignore this.

Senator KERRY.Well, I understand that, but the fact is, Senator, that huge numbers of laws with respect to the Code of Military Justice in terms of sexual behavior are ignored… (p. 483)

Chairman NUNN. …But I thought the whole thrust of your statement is let us be honest. Let us get rid of the hypocrisy. Let us be honest with each other.

If you are going to be honest, you have to put all these issues on the table and I think you have been honest in doing that. They are on the table, and that is what I have been trying to tell people all along.

It is not simply a matter of saying status is one thing, conduct is the other. It is just not that simple.

Senator KERRY. But the question Mr. Chairman, respectfully, is whether or not that conduct is being committed in a way that is disruptive or that is publicly offensive or that disrupts the military. 

Senator NUNN. Well, that is your definition, but that is not the law, and that is not the regulation. (p. 492)

Attack on Motives of the Opposition

Most Senate supporters of lifting the ban on homosexuals in the military used strong but temperate language to make their case. Statements made by Sen. Kerry, however, presaged later ad hominemattacks against opponents that have become common among gay rights advocates who do not “tolerate” dissent:

Senator KERRY. The reality is that if you examine the opposition today…They are making their measurement within the context of a leader-supported status quo. They are measuring the effect, and you are listening to opinions that are heavily weighted by licensed hate, by licensed fear, by licensed confusion, by licensed misunderstanding, and even by licensed ignorance, and the reaction to that, of course, is going to be negative, as it was to letting women in, to letting blacks in, and so forth. (p. 490)

CMR Note:The unjustified use of derogatory words such as “hate, fear, confusion, and ignorance” are indicative of fundamental weaknesses in Kerry’s arguments. Race became largely irrelevant in the American military long before the civilian world addressed irrational discrimination and prejudice against racial minorities.

The issue in question here is sexual conduct, not race. The 1993 exclusion law passed by Congress affirms that in conditions offering little or no privacy, military personnel should not have to be exposed to persons who might be sexually attracted to them. Activists who want to repeal this principle show little concern for the morale of volunteer men and women whose values are different than those held by civilians and elitists who will not have to live with the consequences.

Concerns about Unit Cohesion

During the course of the hearing, then-Sen. James Exon(D-NE) expressed concern about the effects of open homosexuality on unit cohesion:

Senator EXON. …[I]f we have open gays in the military that are holding hands [and dancing] in the officer's club or in the enlisted men's club…and those same individuals...that are charged the next day to make directions of other, non-homosexuals…or eventually if they get on the battlefield, there is not in my view going to be the discipline that is necessary for the cohesion of the unit. (p. 497)

Kerry dismissed such concerns as irrelevant, since in schools straight and gay people dance, and since there is discipline in the schools such displays of affection do not upset the students. But Chairman Nunn seemed to surprise Kerry when he countered:

Chairman NUNN. Senator Kerry, they do not live together at night when they go home. They are not in the same submarine together. They are not on the same aircraft carrier. They are not sleeping three people in the same bunk and rotating like they do on ships.

Senator KERRY.But you are making a presumption that if somebody--well, you do not have three people in the same bunk. You have—

Chairman NUNN.You have three people. Many ships have three people that rotate in the same bunk.

Senator EXON. Not at the same time. [Laughter.]

Chairman NUNN.Not usually at the same time…. [But many] different ships have three people that share the same bunk and rotate.

Senator KERRY.Right.

Chairman NUNN. It is a very close quarters situation. It is a different environment from college or from high school. Totally different. You know that…. (pp. 497-498)

At that point Senator Kerry betrayed even more naivete about the actual burdens that would be forced on military people and commanders trying to maintain good order and discipline:

Senator KERRY. Let us go a step further. Second, you are presuming there is going to be sexual contact. Are you telling me that we cannot deal with this question of inappropriate sexual overtures? We do it heterosexually. We have got women on ships. 

Chairman NUNN. We have got some big problems in that regard, by the way, that is the subject of another set of hearings. Some real big problems.

Senator KERRY. I understand. But they are big problems. That is part of the military's problem today, as part of a societal problem. But that is what we have to work on, Senator. That is not an excuse to discriminate. (p. 498)

But when Senator Exon put to Kerry a real-life scenario, the former Navy lieutenant gave an astonishing answer:

Senator EXON. …Let me ask this question of you, Senator Kerry, to try to get down to the nitty-gritty of this. You served, I believe, with great valor under combat situations in Vietnam. Let me ask you very bluntly, how the troops that you served with would have served had they known or suspected that their commanding lieutenant in a platoon that they were going in behind enemy lines with was a gay? Would you think that might likely have caused some difficulties in the cohesiveness of the unit?

Senator KERRY. Well, if you just plunked them down one day and said here is your new lieutenant and he is gay, I suspect they might have fragged him like they fragged a lot of other lieutenants back then. But the fact is that is not the way you contemplate this happening.

Look, I am not sitting here in ignorance about the concept of unit cohesion, et cetera. I have said you have got to have good soldiers. And you clearly have to have some discretion within your commanders as to whether or not you have got a team of people that are working together…. (p. 498)

I absolutely acknowledge that you have got to permit some discretion with respect to small combat units, certain kinds of situations where you want to make sure that unit is a unit….Clearly, a SEAL unit, five people going in at night under cover of darkness in a raft. You know, if there is a problem because somebody in that unit is an atheist, or if they are a raving revolutionary or something, and you have got a unit cohesive problem, you have got to deal with it…. (p. 499)

CMR Note:The last sentence quoted above is difficult to understand, but Sen. Kerry seemed to be suggesting that a person whose presence is disruptive to others in a small combat unit; i.e., a homosexual Navy SEAL, could be transferred out of the unit. (In extremely cold and wet conditions SEALS must sometimes huddle skin-to-skin, in training as well as in combat, to maintain body heat.) But Kerry’s suggestion that some exceptions might be allowed for small combat units is completely inconsistent with the idea that discrimination based on sex is the same thing as racial discrimination. The statement also contradicts his own position that the only thing that matters is the homosexual person’s desire to serve in the military.

Religious Values

Ranking Armed Services Committee member Sen. John Warner(R-VA) asked questions that focused on young people who would be forced to participate in the social experiment of homosexuals in the military. Kerry’s answer betrayed fundamental confusion and an arrogant attitude that put him outside of the mainstream:

Senator WARNER.Let's do this very seriously. Senator, I want you to go back to when you were a lieutenant JG and you did have the command of a lot of young people. Put yourself in the place of young officers and young noncommissioned officers today who have the responsibility of dealing with 17-, 18-, 19-, 20-year-old young persons, male and female, who have left the security of a home environment, the security of a high school, a village, a town they grew up in, and who are thrust into military life and asked to take on tremendous responsibilities, including risk of life.

If the President's program, as he has thus far stated it, were imposed on the military, you would have the duty, as a junior officer along with your NCO's or petty officers under you, to sit down and talk with these young people coming in about the gay lifestyle.

Now, mind you, these young people may have been taught since an early age by their parents, their ministers, indeed their high school instructors that this gay lifestyle is wrong, and you are going to have to tell them that it is right, and that they must accept it.

Senator KERRY.No. sir.

Senator WARNER.Now, this is important.

Senator KERRY. I am not going to tell them it is right.

Senator WARNER.Then how do you tell them to accept their fellow service person who professes openly his gay lifestyle when you have got to have them deal with it, so they do not, frankly, fight and cause tensions?

Senator KERRY.That is a very fair question. And clearly, we are having trouble dealing with that as a society. Yesterday, the mayor of Boston and the police had stones thrown at them by white high school students who were objecting to the blacks being in their school.

Senator WARNER.Let us narrow the answer. How do you sit down and counsel these young people to perform their military duties and indeed particularly those—

Senator KERRY.My parents taught me to live and let live. To be tolerant.

I think you have to learn. I mean, you can object, you cannot like. You can disagree. I would not choose to say it is right, that is right. I would not choose to say—I mean, do I choose to take one of the members of my crew who is a Hindu? And another who is a Buddhist? And a third a Christian, another a Jew, and tell them Christianity is correct? No, I do not do that.

But we live together—Christian, Jew, Hindu, Buddhist. How do we do that?

Senator WARNER. We understand the religions and the race issue.

Senator KERRYIt is the same thing, Senator.

Senator WARNERThis is where you and I differ in opinion.

Chairman NUNN. It is not the same thing for an awful lot of people in this country, on their moral beliefs and their religious beliefs. This is a vastly different situation for lots and lots of people out there. It may not be for you, Senator Kerry, but it is for an awful lot of people.

It is for a lot of 18-year-olds who come in, who have been brought up in homes that had fundamental religious beliefs. It is different for an awful lot of people out there. (p. 500)

CMR Note:The purpose of the armed forces is to defend the country, not to change the moral beliefs of men and women in the military.

Kerry’s World View

In a January 27, 1993, floor speech, Kerry said that codifying the ban would “...be forever unfaithful, literally semper infidelis, to what this country is all about.” Kerry went on to define gays in the military as an issue essential to “win respect as a nation.”Really? It is hard to imagine a more definitive statement of liberal ideology taken to an extreme. Voters need to consider such views before electing such an advocate to the position of Commander in Chief. 

 

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Posted on Sep 7, 2004 Print this Article