Family Research Council


Peter Sprigg

The American military has had policies against homosexual conduct ever since George Washington's Continental Army. However, in 1993, President Clinton directed Secretary of Defense Les Aspin to prepare for "ending discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation" in the military. Aspin convened a Military Working Group (MWG) to prepare findings on the likely impact of open homosexuality in the military.

Witnesses testified that introducing open homosexuals in units with soldiers who were opposed to homosexuality would seriously impair cohesion. Their presence would constitute "a major and unacceptable invasion of what little privacy remains." Military readiness has three subcomponents: medical, recruiting, and retention. The report asserted, "The homosexual lifestyle has been clearly documented as being unhealthy." Open homosexuality would deter many eligible young Americans from enlisting or remaining in the military. Congress concluded in the 1993 law (10 U.S.C. 654):

The presence in the armed forces of persons who demonstrate a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts would create an unacceptable risk to the high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion that are the essence of military capability.

There is nearly universal misunderstanding of the relationship between the law, which excludes homosexuals from military service (quoted above), and the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy, which is usually described as permitting homosexuals to serve as long as they are not open about their sexual orientation. The DADT policy implemented by President Clinton is not the law, and is in tension with, or even contradicts, the law.


What might be the consequences of repealing the homosexual law?

  • Damage to unit effectiveness.
  • Health consequences with high cost.
  • Difficulty in recruiting.
  • Threat to long-term retention.
  • Threats to freedom of those who morally object to homosexuality.
  • Special protections for homosexuals.
  • Taxpayer-funded benefits to homosexual partners of service members.
  • Possibility of costly new living arrangements to protect privacy.
  • Changes to military law and regulations regarding sexual offenses.

Why shouldn't the U.S. military be homosexual-tolerant like that of other countries?

Only 25 of the world's nearly 200 militaries allow open homosexuals to serve. The world's ten largest militaries all ban homosexuals.

What percentage of all military discharges are discharges of homosexuals?

From 1994-2003, discharges due to homosexuality were only 0.37 percent of the total.

Doesn't the current policy of exclusion violate the civil rights of homosexuals?

No. As the 1993 law says, "There is no constitutional right to serve in the armed forces."

Isn't the integration of homosexuals similar to the integration of blacks?

No. The exclusion of homosexuals is based on conduct and the propensity to engage in that conduct, not based on one's superficial appearance (skin color).

Why do homosexuals want to serve in the military openly?

For a variety of reasons--but radical "gay rights" advocates/activists want to use the military to advance an agenda for the full acceptance of homosexuality in society at large.

Why shouldn't the military mirror society's increasing acceptance of homosexuality?

Military personnel policies should be based on the realities of the harsh battlefield and not on the values of an increasingly liberal society.

Isn't homosexuals serving with heterosexuals the same as women serving with men?

No. The military does not require men and women to shower or to sleep together. We respect women's privacy from men, and ought to respect heterosexuals' privacy, too.

Meet The Author
Peter Sprigg Senior Fellow for Policy Studies

Peter S. Sprigg is Senior Fellow for Policy Studies at the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C. Mr. Sprigg joined FRC in 2001, and his research and writing have addressed (Full Bio)

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