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01/05/2007

He told, they're asking: Retired leaders question Shalikashvilli's motives

by Jeremy Hooper

Claiming that gay activists may be trying to take advantage of him as he recovers from a stroke, retired Army Lt. Col. Bob Maginnis (the same Bob Maginnis who once served as the vice president of policy for the vehemently anti-gay Family Research Council, where he wrote more than a few gay-decrying papers) responds to Gen. John Shalikashvili's recent'y released condemnation of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" by saying:

"I just believe he’s being used by those that want to use this as a political mechanism to pry open the military and to use it for their own social experimentation"

Echoing those sentiments is retired Air Force Col. Bill Spencer, who adds:

"Our military is supposed to fight and win our nations wars,"... "What best constitutes that fighting force? Those are the questions I would hope that the leaders in our country would be asking, not what social construct can we engage to make our fighting forces socially acceptable?"

(Both comments were made to Focus on the Family's news service)

But here's the thing -- who in their right mind would think that a decorated general and former Chariman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff would write an Op-Ed in the frickin' New York Times if he didn't personally, unapologetically support what he was saying? It's not like he made his comments at an HRC gala! He wrote his well-crafted, reasoned assessment of military policy in the nation's most influential media outlet! Mr. Maginnis' suggestion that gay activists took advantage of Mr. Shalikashvilli's health is as baseless as it is heartless!

As for the idea that the "social construct" of gay acceptance is somehow separate from our military's ability to present the strongest fighting force -- again, on what grounds? As Mr. Spencer says, "our military is supposed to fight and win our nations wars." But as the potential for more troop deployment begins to look like a sad reality, it is likely that the army is going to have an even tougher time meeting their recruitment goals. Allowing gay men and women who want to fight for the country but who refuse to fight their truth will only strengthen our fighting force!

It is wrong for these generals with anti-gay agendas to act as if a repeal of DADT would somehow affect our ability to handle our current militarized situation or detract focus from the problems. Expounding on his thoughts, Mr. Maginnis goes on to tell FOF:

"Certainly not at a time of war," he said, "where we have all sorts of problems, is it time to reintroduce a very contentious social issue."

But there is absolutely no reason why a repeal of a flawed policy should affect our dealing with our current war. As per usual, our opposition is playing on fear in order to keep disparity alive!

As long as this biased policy remains in effect, we will not only be fighting a war against our nation's declared enemies, but also a war against sheer decency right here at home. The "social issue" of allowing legal, tax-paying citizens to fight and possibly die for the country they love is only "contentious" because folks on the anti-gay side have made it so. It is time they stop questioning the motives of those who have come to realize "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"s faults, and start asking themselves how they, in good conscience, can support such a hurtful, judgmental, stigmatizing policy.

Clinton's Top General Flip-Flops on Military Gays [FOF CitizenLink]

**UPDATE: Apparently "gays are taking advantage of a general who had a stroke" is the anti-gay side's talking point on the Shalikashvilli matter. Elaine Donnelly, a staunch opponent of gays in the military, is today quoted by Agape Press (3rd item) as saying:

"...Donnelly notes that Shalikashvili has in the last year or so suffered a debilitating stroke and is, in her words, "struggling to retain his health." She says it is "really sad" to see someone like the general being used by the homosexual propaganda machine as "the latest tool of a public relations campaign."

Funny, as it would seem to us that it is they who are using his stroke to refute his ability to think for himself.

**UPDATE2: Steve Ralls from the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network responds to Elaine Donnelly's claims:

"Even for Ms. Donnelly, her newest line of attack is an all-time low. To even insinuate that a four-star General is unable to reach his own conclusions about this issue is outrageous. How can Ms. Donnelly claim to have any respect for our men and women in uniform when she treats military leaders with such distasteful disregard? Left without a single fact to support her bigoted views, she has stooped to a new low to divert the public's attention from the truly courageous stand General Shalikashvili has taken. Shame on her."

**UPDATE3: For the record -- Mr. Shalikashvili's stroke was in August of 2004, not "in the last year or so."

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