Congressman Jim Moran read a letter on the floor of the House of Representatives today from an active duty soldier in Afghanistan. Congressman Moran stated that the soldier had, "learned that a fellow soldier was also gay, only after he was killed by an IED in Iraq. The partner of the deceased soldier wrote the unit to say how much the victim had loved the military; how they were the only family he had ever known." The soldier originally provided the letter in response to an inquiry for the Pentagon's current study of "don't ask, don't tell."
This is the second publicly known case of a gay soldier killed in action during the current wars in the Middle East. The first was U.S. Army Major Alan Rogers, who died while on patrol in Iraq in January, 2008. Statisticians have estimated that more than 200 gay and lesbian service members have perished since the onset of the conflict.
Military leaders this week suggested in Congressional hearings that gay and lesbian troops disrupt the force. They said that they don't know what would happen if gays and lesbians were allowed to utter the words "I am gay", because there is "no data" on this question. They said that because we're fighting a war on two fronts, we cannot be bothered with such matters. They said that what really counts is what the troops want. Therefore, we need to do a survey so that service members can tell us what military personnel policy would be. (A Washington insider tells me that this survey will cost $7 million).
It has been hard to fathom why, in 2010, we're having this conversation from an alternate universe.
Until yesterday, that is, when media reports surfaced explaining that retired General Peter Pace is helping to coordinate opposition to gays in the military from his perch on the powerful Defense Policy Advisory Board.
Pace, you may remember, was the first military leader to tell the truth about the issue when he was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. When asked why the Pentagon must ban gays, he said that homosexual conduct is immoral.
There you have it. Homosexuality is immoral. The reason the Chiefs are telling members of Congress that we're just too busy to deal with this issue has nothing to do with uncertainty about what would happen, or a lack of data, or being at war on two fronts. It's all about morality. And no matter how many sacrifices gay and lesbian troops make defending this country, that's all that matters.