Ft. Polk social experiment risks negative consequences
Who would have thought that Ft. Polk would appear on the cutting edge of societal evolution? But, as with many other changes wrought in recent decades, perhaps bringing decidedly negative consequences that policy must try to prevent.
Fleming and others are correct to support a ban on this or any activity that lends government support, even symbolic, to the practice of homosexual behavior among members of the military until it can be demonstrated conclusively that these kinds of endorsements do not damage readiness. More specifically, taxpayer resources should not to be expended on this experimentation of doubtful utility, especially as, unlike those involving marriage traditionally legally defined, these ceremonies cannot bring benefits to the state and society and can be performed (in many locations even in Louisiana) in private settings that do not use taxpayer resources. If need be produced by a change of leaders in 2013, hopefully the federal government will hew this way.
Last month, there on base a military chaplain of the Disciples of Christ performed for two service females who practice homosexuality what is known as a “commitment ceremony.” In some religious faiths, this mimics exactly a sacrament of marriage. Louisiana constitutionally permits only a marriage between one man and one woman, and the federal Defense of Marriage Act does not recognize anything but this kind of union for administrative purposes, such as filing status of federal income taxes or for survivor benefits. This is the first known instance of such an event occurring, and its timing may have reflected association with Pres. Barack Obama’s campaign-related recanting of opposition to same-sex marriage.
Word of this event leaking out perturbed several Members of Congress, including Louisiana’s Rep. John Fleming, in whose district resides Ft. Polk. Fleming, who with a House majority at one time had backed an effort to amend into law a clarification that would allow any ceremony similar to one of marriage employing military grounds and personnel to have to comport to the federal legal definition of marriage, spoke of concern that the event contravened DOMA and what impact it would have on combat readiness.
That the amendment had come into being validates the fear that this loophole exists. Even as the ceremony has as much legal significance as two or more individuals jumping a broomstick together, since in the religions that allow its practice it serves an identical purpose as marriage, that military resources were used implied federal government acceptance contrary to the law. It’s certainly a gray area that needs addressing with that amendment, which was shelved when the Senate refused to go along with it, in order to prevent the assumption of tacit endorsement. Complicating matters are attempts to have DOMA declared unconstitutional in the judiciary that look like only Supreme Court involvement can resolve.
Allowing such an act also may detrimentally affect combat readiness. Democrat majorities in Congress in lame duck session late in 2010 repealed the previous imperfect policy that prevented the military from allowing those openly admitting preference for homosexual behavior to serve in it, but to take effect only after the executive branch declared no threats to force readiness. In only a few months, as has become the case in recent decades with military actions in premature fashion, victory was declared despite little nonpolitical evidence backing it up and the law to allow open up service was to have come into full force.
It has remained the same since, with the error compounded by the military’s failure to come up with regulations on the subject that also invites allowing legally dubious activities. The social experiment continues even as negative evidence still grows that should have given pause to any pronouncement to continue the process.
Posted by Jeff Sadow at 10:45