A firestorm erupted in the media last week when LtGen Thomas Bostick, a member of the ”working group” on “Don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal, was quoted in the Washington Times apparently equating religious opposition to homosexuality with bigotry and racism. From the Washington Times editorial “A New Gay Army:”
Lt. Gen. Thomas P. Bostick, the Army’s deputy chief of staff in charge of personnel matters who spoke about “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” before several hundred troops at the European Command headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany. “Unfortunately, we have a minority of service members who are still racists and bigoted and you will never be able to get rid of all of them,” Lt. Gen. Bostick said. “But these people opposing this new policy will need to get with the program, and if they can’t, they need to get out. No matter how much training and education of those in opposition, you’re always going to have those that oppose this on moral and religious grounds just like you still have racists today.”
The Times provided no source for their information. The US military subsequently released a statement in which Bostick denied making the quotes:
“The statements attributed to me are inaccurate. I simply did not make those statements. Moreover, as a member of the Department of Defense Comprehensive Review Working Group, I have been extremely careful not to express any views that might influence the integrity of the comprehensive review. I therefore have not expressed any opinions that might suppress the opinions of anyone participating in our discussions. I find the statements falsely attributed to me to be personally reprehensible.”
According to Politico, the Washington Times is standing by its statements provided by anonymous sources, saying they are military members who were at the General’s speech.
While the “he said, she said” makes it difficult to know what actually went on, it is more interesting to see the reaction to the General’s alleged comments. After all, DADT repeal is supposed to be a foregone conclusion, a natural progression to the future, and opposition to the repeal within the military has already been officially berated.
That the Army felt the need to deny the statements, and that the General found them “personally reprehensible,” speaks volumes of the sensitivity to the “inevitable” DADT repeal. It also highlights the somewhat schizophrenic perspective in the military over the issue, which is simultaneously planning on repeal and both criticizing and defending those who oppose repeal.
In addition, Bostick’s denial does not solve the problem of the content of the alleged statements; if repeal occurs, the General’s now-denied statements that moral opposition to homosexuality is “bigotry” will certainly be repeated by someone else. As evidence, homosexual advocacy sites are defending the General’s alleged quotes as ‘statements of the obvious.’ So while he finds them “reprehensible,” there is a segment of society that finds them completely acceptable. If repeal occurs, and another military officer makes these same statements, what will the Army do then?
Ironically, part of the denied quote is simply a restatement of Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Michael Mullen’s statement that those who cannot support DADT repeal can “vote with their feet.” (Bostick reportedly said they could “get out” if they couldn’t “get with the program.”)
When some have said that the repeal of DADT will negatively impact religious freedom, they have often been scoffed by supporters of repeal. Even if the General’s alleged statements — which would directly impact religious freedom in the military – are completely fictional, they have been taken up by homosexual groups as perfectly reasonable. To some, religious opposition to homosexuality is the equivalent of bigotry and racism. Since bigotry and racism are incompatible with military values, the religious freedom of those who are morally opposed to open homosexuality would be impacted by a repeal of DADT.
It would seem, then, that there is substance to the belief that a repeal of DADT will impact religious freedom, despite condescending assurances to the contrary.
Of course, this is all occurring as the Senate plans to take up the Defense Authorization Act, which includes DADT repeal, this week.
As noted at the ADF.