Via Americablog, I saw this illuminating AP piece, “Pentagon’s task: Change culture to allow gays,” that takes a crack at understanding the unit cohesion and disruption arguments made to justify the slow-go repeal process that has been traveled.

Will straight and gay troops have to shower next to one another? Will the military have to provide benefits to gay partners, and can it afford to? And the biggest question of all: Will gays be harassed or intimidated?

It comes down to changing the culture, and top brass say they need more time. The military has been long resistant and, at times, hostile to gays, and it draws much of its 2.4 million members from socially conservative parts of the country.

We are still stuck on shower stall. And by extension, I assume the irrational fears about male service members — and we all know that women aren’t the focus here — being groped, the recipients of amorous unwanted passes and, naturally, sexual assault. By the same men they are already showering with — if they are showering with them at all (open bay showers are not the norm these days).

Plus, I thought this was about following orders. All of the above are criminal acts, so what’s the issue — those committing crimes should be punished. Oh wait, perhaps the real problem is the lack of accountability in the system for crimes when they are committed against female service members by their male colleagues. That’s not the fault of law-abiding, patriotic gays and lesbians who want to serve.

Advocates acknowledge that harassment will likely happen, just as it continues today with those groups. They say another aspect of military culture – following orders – will override any temptation to intimidate gays.

“If your commander-in-chief says this is the new law, then that’s the way we follow it and we make it work,” said David Hall, a former Air Force staff sergeant who was discharged under the 1993 Clinton-era policy.

What’s most distressing are these ridiculous assertions that somehow, the bigots from flyover country are to be feared. That they will, en masse, cause disruption because of their rank homophobia and the Pentagon will look weak and helpless to do anything about it.

The men and women serving in the armed forces today represent less than 1 percent of the country’s total population, and come heavily from rural, conservative areas in the South and the mountain West.

Among their concerns was how to effectively implement new policies for sharing close quarters and living facilities.

Military officials say privately that the service chiefs worry most about a cultural backlash and displays of intolerance that would make the military look as if it had lost control of its troops.

So America is unique in that its armed forces come from a demo so bigoted and ignorant that it cannot follow orders and our brass is so impotent that it cannot enforce discipline.

That is a serious argument? Wow. So all our allies around the world that have moved to open service without incident have superior critical thinking skills and discipline? Is that what they want the American people to believe rather than say “we’ll make it work – it’s about following orders”? We have a bigger problem than I thought with this WH and Pentagon.

Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding