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Department of Defense Homosexual Policy: A Bureaucratic Struggle Involving Intense Executive and Congressional Compromise

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When President Clinton announced bus intention to lift the militarys long-standing ban against service by homosexuals, he set off a fire storm of controversy. This decision to lift the ban placed the senior military leadership in the awkward position of publicly opposing the Commander-in-Chef. The split in the Congress was equally dramatic with influential members of the Presidents own party objecting to his unilateral approach to lift the ban. Lost in all the controversy, however, was an understanding of the Department of Defense policy itself. In his January 29, 1993, press conference, President Clinton characterized the current policy as excluding people from service based solely on the basis of their status. The President added, I believe that American citizens who want to serve their country should be able to do so unless their conduct disqualifies them from doing so. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Colin Powell, in defending the old policy in a letter to a member of Congress, noted that sexual orientation is perhaps the most profound of human behavioral characteristics. But it was Senator Sam Nunn, the conservative Democrat, who served as the catalyst for Congressional resistance He emphasized that the rights of privacy of those men and women in the military who are not homosexual must be protected. Are the President, the General and the Senator talking about the same policy How do these men, from two branches of government - the Executive and Legislative branches come to consensus on such an emotionally charged and politically risky policy that lies at the very heart of our instrument of National Security Policy - the Military

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  • Sociology and Law
  • Military Forces and Organizations

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