(CNSNews.com) - If Vice President Al Gore lifts the ban on homosexuals serving openly in the military - as he has promised to do should he be elected president - the armed forces would see a further erosion of young officers, a military analyst predicts.
"If you want to further gut the military, follow the ludicrous formula Mr. Gore has espoused, especially proposing - even though he's backed down from it - making a litmus test of being gay-friendly for nomination to be chief-of-staff of one of the forces," said retired Army Colonel Robert Maginnis, director for national security and foreign affairs at the Family Research Council.
In campaign statements, Gore has said he supports lifting the ban on homosexuals serving openly in the military and seeks a repeal of President Clinton's "don't ask, don't tell" policy that allows homosexuals to serve so long as they keep their sexual orientation to themselves.
After the murder last year of 21-year-old Pfc. Barry Winchell, an openly homosexual soldier who was beaten to death in Fort Campbell, KY, both Clinton and Gore, on separate occasions, said "don't ask, don't tell" obviously wasn't working.
"In light of the Winchell case and other evidence, I believe the 'don't ask, don't tell' policy should be eliminated," Gore said. "Gays and lesbians should be allowed to serve their country without discrimination."
"If I am entrusted with the presidency, I will make those changes and propose legislation in Congress to eliminate this unacceptable form of discrimination," Gore said.
In Gore's debate in January with former Senator Bill Bradley, both Democratic presidential candidates were asked if they would make agreement on homosexuals in the military a litmus test for appointments to the Joint Chiefs.
Gore answered: "I would insist, before appointing anybody to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that that individual support my policy. And yes, I would make that a requirement."
Gore's statement touched off a furor in the military and among many in his own party - including Medal of Honor recipient Sen. John Kerry (D-NE) - similar to that caused by Clinton in 1993 when the president attempted to lift the ban.
Within days, Gore issued a "clarification" of his policy at a hastily convened news conference in Iowa.
"I did not mean to imply that there should ever be any kind of inquiry into the personal political opinions of officers in the US military," he said.
"What I meant to convey was I would not tolerate, nor would any commander in chief, nor would any president, tolerate orders not being followed," he added.
Gore did not say he would cease to push for full acceptance of homosexuals in the military, however.
In his statements, Gore has taken the controversial position that homosexuality is innate and that many of the arguments against homosexuals serving openly in the military "sound a little bit like ones that were made years ago with respect to African Americans."
Winchell's murder renewed a debate over Clinton's "don't ask, don't tell" policy that was introduced in 1993 as a way to allow homosexuals to skirt a longstanding ban on serving in the military. Clinton and Gore said the murder showed that "don't ask, don't tell" should be scrapped because it failed to protect homosexuals from harassment.
More Tolerance of Homosexuality in Military
"If the military leadership responsible for carrying out these policies has the same position they had when President Clinton tried to make this change, then I think it's unlikely any change is going to be made," said David J. Armor, a professor with the Institute of Public Police at George Mason University and an expert on military personnel readiness. "I think a president who would attempt that would simply embroil himself in another controversy."
Maginnis said the climate regarding homosexuals has changed in the last eight years.
"There is more of a tolerance of homosexuality, not only in the general culture, but also in the military. And to a certain degree, people have been beaten down by the political correctness associated with this issue," he said.
However, the critical shortage of Army captains and Navy aviators - "the very people who say in surveys they don't trust the senior leadership and don't want to put up with all this political correctness - is due to a host of reasons, including the social experimentation the Clinton administration has subjected the military to," Maginnis said.