Tony Perkins: Soldiers Will Quit if Gays Can Serve Openly

No, really. As Candace noted earlier today, the head of the Family Research Council apparently believes that if the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy is repealed, the armed forces will empty, forcing the return of a military draft:

The military is not a red state/blue state institution. It unifies our country. It draws its dedicated members from all regions. Still, it is no secret that the military is a socially conservative institution. It recruits heavily from rural areas in the South, the Midwest, and the Inter-Mountain states. In our larger cities, black and Hispanic recruits are encouraged to consider the military — which has historically been a great ladder of achievement for racial and ethnic minorities. These are the very areas and groups who have been most resistant to the demands of the homosexual lobby. These are the very regions and groups who have rallied to our side whenever we put a defense of marriage initiative on the ballot. If these regions and groups do not enlist in our all-volunteer force, President Obama will be driven to the place he does not want to go: the military draft. No action on repeal of the military ban on homosexuality should be taken in this lame-duck session of Congress. No votes should be taken — except to postpone major social changes.

Setting aside the debatable assumption that the draft is a bad thing (it could be a net positive, especially with a German-style alternative service proviso), does Perkins really think that the same men and women who will walk exposed into enemy fire to save their buddies would be scared to serve next to a gay man or lesbian?

Really?

Well, not exactly. As butch as Perkins’ understanding of how the military works is, it has less to do with the physical protection of territory than the preservation of American identity. That is to say, he understands the military to be the guarantors of the “American way of life,” which he in turn defines as Mom, apple pie, chastity before marriage and straight sex in the missionary position through holes cut in the sheet. Queers and commies need not apply.

I exaggerate, but not by much.

Needless to say, Perkins’ ideals are unobtainable. For one thing, as the American Family Association’s loathsome Bryan Fischer demonstrates, there is no butch too butch for the AFA. We’ve “feminized the Medal of Honor”? Yumping Yiminy, does Giunta’s gun need to grow a handlebar mustache before it can be considered masculine enough to qualify for Warrior Jesus status? This is conclusive proof, as if any were needed, that what goes on between some people’s ears is greasier than a Thanksgiving turkey dipped in used motor oil.

But for another thing, this whole idea of the military uniting the nation in the protection of American values is a damned lie. Not because the members of the armed forces don’t fight bravely to defend their nation—they do—but because “American values” is a fiction, created out of whole cloth to cover up the fact that our borders have never been the geographic boundaries of a single, unified people. There is no American ethnicity, no American people, no American way of life. Instead we have American ethnicities, American peoples, American ways of life, all stitched together in a big beautiful patchwork quilt.

It’s probably too much to ask Perkins and Fischer, et. al., to realize this, but the sooner the rest of us come to understand that to the extent our armed forces fight for an ideal, they fight for the freedom of Americans to live as they please, the better off we’ll be. A queered Army or Marines might be repugnant to the AFA, but to my mind at least it’s a fitting reflection of this nation’s true source of pride: its wondrous, complex and irreducible diversity.

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