Speaker Pelosi Fails To Understand The Process
The press has been full of reports about the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. Peter Pace, saying that he personally believes homosexuality is immoral. While he has admitted that he shouldn't have brought his own feelings on the subject into the public eye, he has correctly declined to apologize for having this belief. (Note that I'm not necessarily saying he's correct to have this belief; I'm saying he shouldn't have to apologize for the fact that he has this belief. This post isn't about that.)
Not surprisingly, several politicians have jumped into the fray, none more unsurprising that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. What she said specifically, though, left me wondering how much she really understands the military. Her comments (you can see video of them here):
I was disappointed in the moral judgment that the chairman of the Joint Chiefs made this morning, or whenever it was, reported this morning, and I was more interested in the statement made by Gen. Shalikashvilii, a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs, when he said that, “If America is ready for a military policy of nondiscrimination based on sexual orientation, the timing of the change should be carefully considered.” I think the military should carefully consider changing the policy. We need the most talented people, we need the language skills, we need patriotic Americans who exist across the board in our population. We don’t need moral judgment from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs.[Emphasis mine] As ArmyLawyer pointed out at MilBlog Ring HQ, the military doesn't really have a choice in following the policy -- they are bound by oath to follow the laws passed by Congress and signed by the President, of which "Don't Ask Don't Tell" is an example. Speaker Pelosi also failed to consider that the UCMJ, which is also a part of the U.S. Code that needs Congressional action to change, has a statute against "sodomy"; I'm not the expert, but I'm pretty sure that any male homosexual act would fall into this category. (As I understand the process, female homosexual acts don't necessarily require "penetration, however slight", so they might fly without a change to the UCMJ.) So, if Speaker Pelosi wants the military to "consider changing the policy", it seems like she has some legislative work to do first.
Of course, this isn't the first time a well-known liberal had problems understanding the legal basis behind the military's policy on homosexuality. Remember then-Vice President Gore's statement that in a New Hampshire debate that he would "require those who wanted to serve in on the position of--on the Joint Chiefs of Staff--to be in agreement with (his policy of overturning DADT)". Left unanswered were what other laws a (thankfully hypothetical) President Gore would require his JCS nominees to disagree with.