Threatening our liberties


My colleague Tony Perkins has just been banned from addressing the Andrews Air Force Base prayer luncheon. His invitation has been withdrawn. Tony is president of the Family Research Council. He's a Christian minister. And he's an honorably discharged veteran of the Marine Corps. None of this mattered. Tony had spoken out in favor of retaining the law against homosexuals serving openly in the military. That was enough to get him banned.

Let's see where this is leading us. Tony spoke in favor of current U.S. law. It's a law that was passed overwhelmingly by a Democratic Congress and signed by a Democratic president (Bill Clinton). That law has been upheld in court. Tony's position could hardly have been more mainstream. And he had no plans to discuss that law at his prayer luncheon talk. None of this mattered. He was banned all the same.

All members of the U.S. military take an oath to support the Constitution. Tony took that oath, too. But some people in the military get away with openly flouting their oath. Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the accused Fort Hood shooter, spoke out in favor of jihad for years. He was coddled while he openly expressed disloyal sentiments. He violated his oath to support the U.S. Constitution every day he was in the service. All the while, he was receiving full pay and allowances. A politically correct version of diversity protected him from the discipline that should be imposed on all active-duty service members.

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Loyalty is fundamental to military life. Maj. John Key, who served in the Union army during the Civil War, was the grandson of Francis Scott Key, who wrote "The Star-Spangled Banner." When Maj. Key was overheard making disloyal statements after the Battle of Antietam, he was summoned to the White House. President Lincoln asked him point blank: Did you say these things? Key had openly expressed his view that Gen. George McClellan did not actively pursue the retreating Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee because the federal army did not want to defeat the rebellion. Key said the military on both sides of the Civil War wanted to have a draw so they could force the civil authorities in Washington to accept a negotiated settlement.

When Key admitted those were his views and that he had spoken those words, Lincoln said, "You're through." He dismissed Key from the Army. Two years later, after Key's own son had died bravely defending the Union, John Key begged the president to allow him to rejoin the ranks. Ex-Maj. Key wanted only to risk his life to serve his country. Lincoln was touched by the poor man's change of heart, but he was immovable. Loyalty to the Constitution had to be upheld.

The issue of repealing the current law concerning gays in the military will not simply be a matter of ordering our military to recruit openly homosexual members by quota; it will threaten the liberty of hundreds of thousands of those currently serving in our all-volunteer force.

Consider the thousands of military chaplains who come from Jewish and Christian denominations that regard homosexual conduct as wrong. Are they going to be banned from speaking out? If they criticize adultery and homosexual behavior in their sermons, will they be denied promotion? Will they be ordered to counsel others to accept homosexual conduct? Will they be ordered to "celebrate" homosexuality in the ranks? Chaplains are an indispensable part of our nation's military readiness. This has been recognized by our military going all the way back to Gen. George Washington.

The current indications are that those who hold to traditional beliefs and values will be silenced---as Tony Perkins has been banned from speaking. This is a most dangerous precedent. The repeal of the current eligibility law would put at risk the retention of thousands of our volunteer soldiers, sailors, and Marines. It also risks driving out many of our military chaplains. It shows how today's liberalism is anything but liberal.

Ken Blackwell
Ken Blackwell

Ken, a senior fellow at the Family Research Council, is the co-author of The Blueprint: Obama's Plan to Subvert the Constitution and Build an Imperial Presidency. Follow Ken on Twitter @kenblackwell.


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