Some military types together penned an op-ed in the Washington Post arguing against gays in the military. Some of their arguments are manifestly absurd–like this one:
And the damage would not stop there. Legislation introduced to repeal Section 654 (H.R. 1283) would impose on commanders a radical policy that mandates "nondiscrimination" against "homosexuality, or bisexuality, whether the orientation is real or perceived." Mandatory training classes and judicial proceedings would consume valuable time defining that language. Team cohesion and concentration on missions would suffer if our troops had to live in close quarters with others who could be sexually attracted to them.
We don't need a study commission to know that tensions are inevitable in conditions offering little or no privacy, increasing the stress of daily military life. "Zero tolerance" of dissent would become official intolerance of anyone who disagrees with this policy, forcing additional thousands to leave the service by denying them promotions or punishing them in other ways. Many more will be dissuaded from ever enlisting. There is no compelling national security reason for running these risks to our armed forces. Discharges for homosexual conduct have been few compared with separations for other reasons, such as pregnancy/family hardship or weight-standard violations. There are better ways to remedy shortages in some military specialties than imposing social policies that would escalate losses of experienced personnel who are not easily replaced.
"Nondiscrimation" (in quotes!) sounds odd, to say the least, in the context of an argument arguing for systematic and legalized discrimination against homosexuals. Aside from its grade C sophistry, this argument repeats the claim uttered by many that their civil rights would be infringed upon if homosexual marriages are legally recognized–a claim made in a recent commercial against gay marriage. See here for entertaining commentary on that particular advertisement.
On the other merits of the piece, the authors argue many–too many–would leave the military (in a time when we need them all). The primary cause would seem to be the "forced intimacy" required by military life:
Section 654 recognizes that the military is a "specialized society" that is "fundamentally different from civilian life." It requires a unique code of personal conduct and demands "extraordinary sacrifices, including the ultimate sacrifice, in order to provide for the common defense." The law appreciates military personnel who, unlike civilians who go home after work, must accept living conditions that are often "characterized by forced intimacy with little or no privacy."
Not having been in the military, I can't really attest to that (anyone?). But one can easily imagine it. What might be a counter example to this–perhaps the only comprehensible worry on behalf of those afraid of homosexuals, at least the only one the authors mention–might be some other military which allows gays to serve openly. And indeed there is one, or two or more. The authors write:
Some suggest that the United States must emulate Denmark, the Netherlands and Canada, which have incorporated homosexuals into their forces. But none of these countries has the institutional culture or worldwide responsibilities of our military. America's armed forces are models for our allies' militaries and the envy of our adversaries — not the other way around.
They might have just added: those countries, however, serve red herring, a nutritionally deficient form of sustenance, in their MREs. The question is whether allowing gays in the military–especially in Canada, a country very much like ours, with troops committed overseas in various operations–has affected military service in Canada. Did mass amounts of people leave the military? The fact that our military might be the envy of our adversaries is immaterial and irrelevant–unless, of course, they "envy" it's not gayness.