I’m glad that Peter Pace has made clear the reason he believes gays should be excluded from openly serving in the military. It’s so much more refreshing to hear this argument than the more nebulous “gays reduce unit cohesion” argument that’s been in vogue for the last fifteen years or so. According to this argument, gays reduce unit performance both by creating distrust in the unit (heterosexuals get nervous) and through developing relationships that prevent properly dispassionate analysis and action (Sarge doesn’t want his boyfriend to get shot, and thus takes unnecessary risks). There’s not the faintest shred of empirical support for the unit cohesion argument, but because it’s so difficult to test, there’s not a ton of empirical disconfirmation, either.
Much better for Pace to simply make clear that he finds homosexuals icky. The odd thing is that, in spite of this ickiness, Pace claims that he supports the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. Closted gays, apparently, aren’t as icky as open gays. I suppose that God hates an Army where soldiers have purple triangles on their uniforms, but finds an Army with closeted gays acceptable. Whatever. By making clear the real reason for the exclusion of gays, Pace is helping to sound the death knell of their exclusion. Attitudes toward homosexuality are becoming more progressive in virtually every demographic, even the very conservative ones that the armed forces draw from. The attitudes that Pace displays are steadily going to grow less tenable. There’s plenty of tolerance of gays in the military now; most soldiers that I’ve met knew that some of their comrades were gay, and almost none of them cared.
Cross-posted to TAPPED.