ADDENDUM TO: LEAVE WELL ENOUGH ALONE--LEAVE IT ALONE
By Andy Weddington
Saturday, 13 February 2010
This morning, after pouring a second cup of coffee, I proceeded with my ritual of reviewing email--dozens were waiting for my review. One in particular caught my attention. It was from "Bruce," a retired New York City police officer (whom I've not yet had the pleasure of meeting in person), a faithful reader of this Commentary (Bruce also has an interesting site: http://brucesplace.net/Wordpress/). Here is Bruce's note as it came to me:
I just received this from a former LCpl [Lance Corporal--Marine Corps] and fellow retired NYC cop. How he got it I have no idea.
Anyway - since it parallels your post and many of my own thoughts on the subject, I thought I'd forward it to you to take a look at. It does mention factors I had not considered originally (health issues, HIV/AIDS) and some equally critical issues.
I have left the writers info intact for verification. I know if you choose to make use of any of this you will be circumspect. I would imagine the writer would not have provided such personal info if he worried about it leading to him, but you never know.
After reading the letter Bruce forwarded I knew, without hesitation, I needed to find an appropriate way to publish it. So, first step, confirm validity. The author had included his address and telephone number under his "signature." I dialed the number. A gentleman answered on the second ring. I said, "Good morning, sir. Is this Captain Jefferis?" He replied, "Yes it is." I identified myself and proceeded with a question or two to confirm he authored the letter. He did. I next asked if he objected to me posting it as an addendum to my Commentary posted yesterday. He told me he had not intended for his letter to go public. But, after sending it to Admiral Mullen, he sent it, via the Internet, to a few close friends. Since then he had received over a hundred inquiries--proof, yet again, once on the Internet it's public; like it or not. He gave me approval to publish his letter.
Folks, take time to read the letter. And then to digest and think about it. It ties in well with my Commentary in that it takes the issue down to the operational level and makes a compelling case. Captain Jefferis knows what he is talking about--he has been there and given this subject considerable, in-depth thought--unlike those presently sitting in positions of authority with the power to create a mess of disastrous proportions. And, Captain Jefferis clearly sees the destructiveness looming if "Don't ask, don't tell" is repealed.
Out of respect for Captain Jefferis, and because I did not think to confirm with him, I removed his home address and phone number. Other than that act of courtesy for his privacy, his letter appears as written.
Captain Jefferis, "Thank you for taking my call and agreeing to allow your heartfelt, professional, and powerful letter to be presented in this forum. By the way, my wife was a 'CTI' and presently commands in that line of work."
I will close my introduction by asking everyone--especially military readers--to engage and pressure your representative and congressman to stand behind "Don't ask, don't tell." And, to pass this post along to everyone you can think of and ask they likewise engage. Plain and simple--this is a matter of national security. Thank you.
February 8, 2010
Admiral Mike Mullen, USN
Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff
9999 Joint Staff Pentagon
Washington, D.C. 20318-9999
Dear Admiral Mullen:
This letter is in response to your shocking statement last week that you advocate homosexuals openly serving in the military services. I seriously question the wisdom of your position. As I have previously written my Senator, Harry Reid, and my Congresswoman, Dina Titus, the position appears to be more a matter of Democratic party voter pandering than the solution to a valid military issue. Perhaps it was your willingness to support the Democratic agenda that earned you your present position as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
I am a retired Navy Captain. I enlisted in the Navy in 1948, and served as a Yeoman, Personnelman, Journalist, and Communications Technician, and, as a Petty Officer First Class, received a commission in 1955 through the Integration Program. In my more than 31 years of active duty, I commanded two ships, served as Executive Officer on two ships, commanded Coastal Squadron ONE (Swift Boats) in Vietnam, and was Chief Staff Officer on an Amphibious Squadron. I developed the first Human Affairs Council in a Pacific Fleet ship in 1972, and supervised human affairs activities on seven PHIBRON ships. I am a graduate of the School of Naval Justice, the Management Course at the Navy Postgraduate School, and the Senior Officer course at the Naval War College. After retirement I received a Juris Doctorate from the Hastings College of Law. Like you, I encountered homosexuals throughout my Navy career and in civilian life. Unlike you, I do not find they are more deserving than non-homosexuals or that they constitute a viable or necessary body of troops for the defense of our country.
My experience is Naval. I can't speak for the Army, Air Force, or Marine Corps. Those services are generally based ashore with nearby civilian communities. In such communities, homosexuals may be able to find sexual gratification without interfering with military duties. But the best analogy to a ship at sea is a prison. There is no other outlet for sexual drives and I know of no prison in the United States that assigns males and females, or who intentionally assign known homosexuals, to the same cell. That is one of the differences between your position and mine.
During my enlisted service, homosexuals seemed to be a clumsy lot. They had a tendency to repeatedly fall headfirst down an engine room ladder. Some were even known to trip on deck and "fall" overboard. The crew had a way of policing themselves to eliminate homosexual advances. Perhaps you are correct in your assumption that military personnel are more liberal today, but I would look very closely at prevalent attitudes before I closed the book on the issue.
It has been my experience that if sexual favors are available aboard ship, some enterprising sailor, petty officer, or officer will find a way to take advantage of the offer. There is usually a senior/junior relationship in such exchanges and the senior partner will reward the junior with preferential treatment, such as duty assignments, watches, leave, liberty, and advancement. Such preferential treatment can't be hidden from other crew members and tends to destroy the chain of command, discipline and morale. If a Chief Petty Officer, for example, is having sexual relations with a non-rated sailor, it will have an adverse impact on those petty officers between the two in the chain of command. Because of your current assertions, I must assume that you were either lucky and didn't have the problem during your shipboard assignments, or that you chose to ignore them!
That sexual misconduct in the Navy exists to this day is obvious. I recall that a lesbian ring was discovered on the USS NORTON SOUND back in the late 60's or early 70's. At about the same time my wife, now a retired Navy Commander, was Executive Officer at the WAVES Barracks, Great Lakes Naval Training Center. She was aware of many cases of homosexuality involving the WAVES assigned to the Barracks.
I also recall that one of the cruisers returning from the First Gulf War reported 40% of the female crew members were pregnant after a six-month deployment. Just recently I read that the Commanding Officer and Command Master Chief were relieved from an Atlantic Fleet destroyer because of fraternization between several Chief Petty Officers and female members of the crew.
Just the other day I heard news reports that a birth control pill previously reserved for use by women in combat had to be made available to all females in the military, clearly implying that intercourse was occurring in combat units and such conduct was known to unit commanders. Is there some reason you believe that homosexual activity would not also occur or is not occurring?
As you should be aware, the Uniform Code of Military Justice does not address homosexuality, per se. Article 125 provides that sodomy is a felony, to be punished as a court martial may direct. But the Article does not discriminate against homosexuals. Oral or anal sex between persons of the same sex (homosexuals), opposite sex (heterosexuals) or with animals (bestiality) are all considered felonies. However, when the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy was established, it only applied to homosexual activities.
In all my years of service, I never encountered a Commanding Officer who "asked" a subordinate if he was a homosexual. I never knew of a sailor who was subjected to legal sanctions for homosexual conduct without corroborating evidence. A "confession" was not enough. Credible corroborating evidence had to exist and usually took the form of testimony of a participating party.
So the "policy" of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" makes no sense at all, except to create a means of ignoring the law. But the policy can only as effective as the individual's discretion. As long as the homosexual was discreet, nothing would happen to him. He could be sanctioned only if he wanted to go public. However, by the same token, if a heterosexual indiscreetly advised his Commanding Officer that he had committed sodomy, he would be subject to the same sanctions.
In regard to heterosexual behavior, the UCMJ also proscribes common law marriage under the heading of Unlawful Cohabitation (with or without evidence of sexual intercourse). It sanctions adultery and prostitution (for both the prostitute and the patron). In the case of an officer, merely "consorting with a notorious prostitute" constitutes an offense, again even without evidence of sexual intercourse. The problem is that common law marriage is legal in 11 states and the District of Columbia. I don't believe that adultery is a criminal offense in any state today. And in my home state of Nevada, even prostitution is legal. I don't recall you asking Congress to legalize heterosexual sodomy, adultery, prostitution, or common law marriage. There are many punitive articles in the UCMJ that have no relationship to the satisfactory performance of military duties, yet you single out homosexuals for preferred treatment. Again, I must ask "why?".
The argument I hear most often expounded by the homophiles is that the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy deprives the military of outstanding young men and women who want nothing more than to defend their country and that they have the ability to operate a radar, or a gas turbine, or a gun as well as a heterosexual. That can't be true. It isn't the "policy", it is Article 125 of the UCMJ that criminalizes homosexual behavior since it would be virtually impossible to practice homosexuality without committing sodomy. But, even if it were true, are homosexuals really worth the administrative problems they would create by their mere existence?
The Navy, today, does not willingly accept GED holders for enlistment. Minor criminal records are a bar to enlistment. Visible tattoos and piercings are not permitted. Are these aberrations more damning than sodomy? Personnel may be denied reenlistment if they fail to meet obesity standards. The young men and women denied naval service because of these exclusionary conditions may also want to defend their country and might also be able to satisfactorily operate a radar, or a gas turbine, or a gun. But you are only advocating the acceptance of homosexuals! Why is that, Admiral?
Is it your contention that co-habitors, adulterers, prostitutes, young men and women with tattoos, those with only GEDs, or the obese cannot serve as well as homosexuals? If so, what is your empirical evidence to support such an argument? If we can sanction heterosexual behavior, appearance, and alternative educations, why can't we sanction homosexual sodomists?
If we get to pick and choose which laws we uphold, which laws are next on the line to ignore? Carnal Knowledge? I would think a service man or woman who has sex with a minor (Carnal Knowledge) could perform military duties as well, if not better, than a homosexual. At least we don't have children in combat, or in the military at large, for them to accost. Their pedophilia would not impact on the performance of military duties.
If you are successful in your endeavors to have Congress modify the UCMJ, have you given any thought to the long-term repercussions?
When I joined the Navy, absence from duty because of venereal disease, self-inflicted wounds, even severe sun burn, was considered "Sick Misconduct". We were not paid for the periods we were absent from duty and our enlistments were extended on a day-for-day basis. Since AIDS/HIV is more prevalent in the homosexual community than in the heterosexual community, have you considered the consequences of a homosexual serviceman contracting AIDS or HIV? Will the homosexual with AIDS/HIV receive treatment from military sources? Will it be considered a service-connected disability justifying a medical discharge and retirement benefits? Will it result in Veterans Administration disability benefits?
And have you considered the likelihood that some of the homosexuals will request sex change procedures? I know for a fact that a significant percentage of my Law School class was undergoing sex change therapy or surgery. It made using heads confusing for both genders. Sex change is an issue being considered in civilian prisons today and I'm not convinced that taxpayers, or military budgets, should be burdened with that expense.
But, if you really want homosexuals, you should accept their baggage, as well and their bodies.
Do you also advocate same-sex marriage or "partnerships"? Will the homosexual's partner be entitled to dependents' benefits, including health care, BAQ, military base access, and commissary and exchange privileges? Will they be entitled to military housing? Would they be entitled to sex change procedures at government expense?
Would a homosexual openly serving on active duty in a same-sex marriage be prosecuted for adultery if he or she has a sexual relationship outside the marriage? Would a homosexual be prosecuted for prostitution? Perhaps, in such cases, even you would reinstate the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.
I raise the last point because while serving as Executive Officer on USS CATAMOUNT (LSD-17) in 1967, one of the Radarmen was arrested by local police. While inventorying his personal effects a photograph of the sailor performing fellatio on another male was discovered. The police turned the photo over to the Shore Patrol, who forwarded it to me. During an investigation it was determined that five of the ship's Radarmen were involved in a male prostitution ring. They declared that while in Radarman Class "A" School at Treasure Island, their instructors convinced them that they could augment their military pay by providing homosexual services to gays in San Francisco. They took advantage of the opportunity presented and continued such activity in San Diego. CATAMOUNT sailed absent several Radarmen and the Class "A" School lost several instructors. Are these otherwise competent Radarmen the type of sailors you want on your ships? I hope not!
Your advocacy of gay rights reminds me of a joke popular in the Australian Navy in the 1970's. An officer with nearly 20 years service transferred from the Royal Navy to the Royal Australian Navy. When asked why, he stated that when he joined the Royal Navy, homosexuality was a crime and that homosexuals received severe punishment and discharge. After a few years he noticed that senior officers were closing their eyes to the problem. Eventually, it was made permissible. He decided to transfer before it became compulsory. I think you are leading us down that road to compulsion, Admiral!
I fully realize that I should not judge you or your procurement source. I have not walked the mile in your shoes. But, by the same token, you have not walked a mile in mine. I hope that you recognize that we are irreconcilably opposed on this issue, but I think I have given it more thought than you. In retrospect, I now realize that of all the officers I served with on active duty, Naval Academy graduates were the most tolerant of homosexuals. It may only be coincidence, but was there something in the curriculum that created such tolerance? I am aware that there have been numerous scandals regarding drug use, academic cheating, and heterosexual misconduct, but had never before given much thought to their acceptance of homosexual behavior, despite my awareness that there was a tendency toward an anal fixation.
I do hope that you conduct a thorough, in-depth evaluation of this issue, and hope you reach a realistic final determination. Assuming that your personal bias and the power of your office will result in your victory, I will watch retention statistics with a critical eye. Our sailors won't have the option of transferring to the Australian Navy.
In keeping with the requirements of Navy Regulations, I submit this with all the respect your rank and position deserve.
With due respect;
Lawrence R. Jefferis
Captain, U. S. Navy (Ret.)