[UPDATE: For a report that the Pentagon is not planning to decriminalize consensual sodomy, see here.]
The office of the general counsel at the Pentagon has proposed decriminalizing consensual sodomy among adults . . . .
Under Article 125 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, it is a crime to engage in "unnatural carnal copulation with another person of the same or opposite sex," even with mutual consent.
The changes proposed by the Pentagon's lawyers would narrow the definition to prohibit acts of sodomy with a person under age 16 or acts "committed by force." . . .
While the change would not alter the military's policy against gay men and lesbians in uniform, advocates for gay rights said that recent court decisions and the proposed changes to the military code could have broader implications for gay men and lesbians in the armed forces. . . .
I'm quite skeptical of the arguments against allowing gays in the armed forces, but at least there's a plausible — though in my view on balance unpersuasive — justification for that policy: the concern that homosexual relationships may interfere with discipline and cohesion in all-male or nearly all-male units. (I don't see how that argument could justify the exclusion of lesbians, but that's a matter for another day.)
What plausible relation, though, could there possibly be for banning nongenital heterosexual sex — including oral sex, which the overwhelming majority of heterosexuals engage in — among servicemembers? How does banning our soldiers from having oral sex make them a more effective fighting force? How is the rule anything other than a waste of time, money, and military resources if enforced, and anything other than a mockery if unenforced?
The only explanation I've ever heard for such rules is that they make it easier to prosecute nonconsensual sex when the evidence of lack of consent is weak. But that strikes me as a lousy justification, a recipe for injustice against perfectly innocent, decent people who happen to get on the wrong side of a prosecutor or a commanding officer. And it seems to me that in the military even more than in civilian life, the rules should be enforced, and rules that we aren't prepared to enforce (at least in the normal cases, setting aside the exceptional ones) shouldn't be rules.
Finally, I realize that the decriminalization of nongenital sex would indeed eliminate one argument against excluding practicing homosexuals. But if the real reason for the exclusion is the concern about unit cohension, then that's what the argument should be about — not the practicing homosexuals' violation of a rule that's pointless and that's routinely violated by most heterosexuals.
Related Posts (on one page):