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Compromise on Gays in Military

July 26, 1993

* In response to "Clinton Eases Ban on Gays in Military but Restricts Conduct," July 20:

The "don't ask, don't tell" policy is no compromise but repackaged discrimination. The policy includes expulsion of discovered gay and lesbian service people. It mandates discrimination by enforcing a double standard of conduct, placing particular limits on the freedom of speech of lesbian and gay personnel. The policy fails to address the issue of sexual harassment perpetrated by heterosexuals, of which the Tailhook scandal is an example.

Such a discriminatory policy is a blatant violation of President Clinton's campaign promise to lift the ban. We are saddened by the President's unwillingness to stand up for what's right, for his own principles, and make a case to Congress.

GLAAD/LA (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation/Los Angeles), along with our communities, will continue to fight for equality on every level, in the media, in the courts, the Legislature and the streets.

LEE WERBEL

Executive Director

GLAAD/LA

* This don't ask, don't tell compromise for gays in the military is indeed a compromise. It is a compromise of values, beliefs and ideals. It is saying, "I won't ask you, and you can't tell me because homosexuals do not get equal treatment and do not have equal rights."

The United States is now taking a back-seat role in the fight for freedom around the world, unwilling to acknowledge the mess created in its own back yard.

MICHAEL L. STEMPEL

West Hollywood

* The personal attacks on President Clinton in the wake of the unfortunate compromise on gays in the military are both a misdirection of energy and a demonstration of political naivete. There can be little doubt that the President wanted to lift the ban unequivocally. But even the suggestion of such a pronouncement last January gathered conservative forces from both parties who were prepared to override the President's actions.

The President is not an elected dictator who can rule by fiat.

President Clinton is the most sympathetic chief executive that gays have ever had in the White House. No other President has ever suggested the steps that he initially proposed. However, for him to refuse a compromise at this point would be to invite a humiliating congressional defeat and a poisoning of relations with Congress and the military that would jeopardize Clinton's entire legislative agenda.

This imperfect compromise is a small beginning that can lead inexorably to a gradual but inevitable change in the ways gays are viewed in our society. If we are to direct our energy and anger let it be to defeat bigoted legislators like Sens. Sam Nunn and Jesse Helms. Only when we have a Congress that shares the President's sympathies can we put the policies of prejudice and hatred behind us.

JOHN ZANIER

Long Beach

* The new policy regarding gays in the military makes sense. Homosexuals can remain in the military as long as they do not openly promote or display their homosexuality. If that offends them, they can leave. The military can get along very nicely without them.

ERNEST T. JOHNSTON

Mission Viejo

* Simply put, doesn't the new policy regarding gays in the military--don't ask, don't tell--sound a lot like "get back into the closet and we won't knock"? And this took six-months of work by congressional and military "experts"!

RACHEL GALPERIN

Encino

* I was amused by the juxtaposition of two articles dealing with homosexuality in the July 16 issue. On the one hand, we learned that the military would be allowed to discriminate against homosexuals, and on the other, we learned that geneticists were finally zeroing in on proof that homosexuality is a natural and genetically determined part of human behavior. It was satisfying for me to see ignorance and bigotry so clearly shown up for what they are. It will be more satisfying when we can point to the gene (or genes) that makes homosexuality an immutable trait and thus immune to discrimination, at least legal discrimination.

More importantly than the single issue of the fair treatment of homosexuals is the broad question of the contribution of science to human ethics. It isn't popular anymore to assert that science can show us what is good or right, but I believe that if we wish to have an ethical system based on what is real, then science can clarify and in some cases even solve our fundamental ethical questions. To the degree that ethics is based on reality, the study of reality must affect ethics positively. The current defensiveness of moral theorists against the encroachment of science is simply the fear which all people feel in the face of the immutable. If something is either true or not, then we can be wrong, which makes us nervous.

We need to embrace and celebrate the insights genetics and neuroscience will give us into ourselves, and be willing to change the views we have that are based only on tradition and prejudice.

JAMES D. NEWMAN

Fullerton

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