August 4, 1997 in Nation/World

Panel Urged To Study Sex Issues In Military

From Staff And Wire Reports

Controversy over gays in the military and recent sex scandals have demoralized troops, and a commission should be created to look at sex in the armed services, House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Sunday.

“I think we have to look at the entire issue of sexuality in the military,” Gingrich said on “Fox News Sunday.”

The Dallas Morning News reported Sunday that the Pentagon began reviewing how its “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy is applied after discharges for homosexuality reached a five-year high of 850 in 1996.

“We’re reviewing the enforcement of the policy, not the policy itself,” Pentagon spokeswoman Monica Aloisio told the newspaper. “We think the policy works fine. We have no intention of changing it.” The Pentagon had no further comment Sunday.

Recent events have turned the military into a “social laboratory,” said Gingrich, R-Ga. “You don’t hire a military as a social laboratory.”

All this scrutiny is “very, very demoralizing to active personnel,” Gingrich said.

The “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, implemented in 1994, essentially permits homosexuals to stay in the military as long as they do not disclose their sexual orientation or engage in homosexual activity. The military is prohibited from asking service members about their orientation or actively seeking to identify suspected gay members.

Many homosexuals say military commanders continue to ask people about their sexual orientation and have instigated “witch hunts” against gays.

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