In 2008, the House Armed Service personnel subcommittee held the first hearing since 1993 on the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy which discriminates against openly gay/lesbian military persons.
During her testimony at the hearing, Elaine Donnelly, President of the Center for Military Readiness, invoked the argument against a repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell we hear all too often – that a repeal would result in :”exotic forms of sexual expression”, “forcible sodomy” and declaring a repeal would lead to a “sexualized atmosphere.”
In her written statement to the House Armed Services Committee, Donnelly wrote:
When a female soldier reports an incident of sexual harassment or abuse, she enjoys the presumption of truthfulness. But under the new civil rights standard, if a male soldier reports an incident of homosexual harassment or abuse, he will face the suspicion, if not the presumption, of unacceptable attitudes toward fellow soldiers who are gay.
Since charges of harassment will be met with counter charges of “bigotry” or “homophobic bullying,” heterosexuals whose values are violated will hesitate to file complaints, lest they be suspected and probably accused of attitudes that violate the new “zero tolerance” policy, favoring homosexuals in the military.
In messy, emotionally-charged disputes such as this, commanders themselves will be accused of homophobic attitudes if they take the side of the heterosexual person over the homosexual one. Who is bullying whom? In close quarters it wouldn’t matter—the effect on unit cohesion would be the same.
The first problem with Ms. Donnelly’s statements, which are echoed still today in arguments against the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, is that she’s ignored the fact that female soldiers do not enjoy the presumption of truth. In a 2004 report, the Denver Post found that some 200,000 women were sexually assaulted while serving in the armed forces. In 2006, there were 2,974 cases of rape and sexual assault in the services and only 292 of those cases went to a military trial. According to the group, STAAAMP, over 40 U.S. Generals, Admirals and Colonels have been given immunity by U.S. Courts for serious criminal sexual behavior. Presumption of truth, Ms. Donnelly? It seems not.
The second problem with her argument is that she implies that a heterosexual person who has been raped by someone of the same sex would not come forward for fear of being labeled a bigot. While it’s true that many victims of rape or sexual abuse do not come forward, the idea that the fear of being labeled “anti-gay” stayed their voice is ludicrous. According to the 2005 National Crime Victimization Survey, only 38 percent of rapes and sexual assaults were reported to law enforcement officials. Thus, a staggering 63% went unreported. In many of these cases, victims felt that their reputations would be tarnished and that they would be blamed for the attack against them. One rape victim described her fear of coming forward this way:
It would be my word against his. It was something I’d rather not have to deal with while I was in college. All my friends all believed me. I didn’t know if the police would. I didn’t know if the school would.
In her third point, Donnelly suggests that Commanders would be subjected to being homophobic if they prosecuted a rape case against a gay service member. This is another ludicrous allegation with no supporting facts and is clearly an effort to blame the victim or prosecutor, rather than the perpetrator.
The lies and fear from the opposition are spreading. They are desperate to hide their prejudices in tangled, twisted logic that will appeal to the masses. No outlandish claim or lie is too far for these people as they must defend their right to hate without saying their truth, that they just don’t like gay people. The repeal of laws against people based solely upon individual characteristics is the “right” path and we will succeed. Even those opposed to equality know this, and they are afraid.
For additional information on rape and sexual assault in the military, I direct you to the following resource: Refusing Rape.
NOTE: For more of the column, Stupid Things People Say About Gays, click here.