Exclusion is the most comprehensive and penetrating study ever published on the question of homosexuals in the armed forces. Clear-headed, highly readable, precise, and meticulously documented, it is essential reading for anyone who wants to better understand both sides of the debate on homosexuals in the military.
Using the Army as her chief model, Major Wells-Petry shows precisely why the mission of the U.S. military would be dangerously compromised if homosexuals were admitted to the services. In making her case for the present policy, she also answers the charges of gay rights activists and other "civil libertarians" that there is a constitutional question involved in this debate. In a devastating analysis of logic and law, she examines the grounds on which homosexuals have challenged the ban - "the right to privacy," "the right to free association," "the right to free speech" - and shows why each has failed to convince the courts to intervene in an essentially military decision.
The well-recognized legal principle that no one has a "right to serve" is often ignored in the passionate speeches of gay rights groups, but it is not forgotten in Exclusion. Military service is at best an inestimable service, at worst a harsh and dangerous burden. When the survival of the nation itself is at risk - and we must always assume that possibility - the overriding criterion for recruitment must be whether or not the individual can contribute to the combat readiness of our armed forces.
The military must maintain a sense of trust and mutual reliance in an environment that is often confined and stressful. Service members live together, shower together, sleep in cramped quarters together, and - in emergencies - share blood with one another. Such arrangements would be severely compromised by the presence of homosexuals and service morale would deteriorate as a result.
These are the hard facts of military life. They cannot be altered by trendy rhetoric or by fine abstractions. They are the absolutes upon which military policy must rest if we are to survive as a nation.
All of these matters - the legal history of the question, its medical implications, the inevitable effect on order and morale - are integral parts of Exclusion and essential factors in resolving this national debate. We must not adopt a disastrous policy as the result of ignorance about homosexual behavior or a failure to understand the unique mission of our armed forces. After all, the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard belong to the American people and not to any political group or faction - in or out of government.