Guest post / Local / Politics / Virginia

LTJG Thorne

Guest post by David Beemer

LTJG Thorne going public on national TV while on active duty 20 years ago doesn’t disqualify him to sit on the bench today. I actually believe fighting for what you think is right, regardless of the consequences, is exactly the quality we should all aspire to.

Society changes slowly. For example, Galileo was found guilty of heresy in 1633 for supporting Copernican astronomy. He spent the last nine years of his life under house arrest for something that he knew to be true via his own eyes.

In 1992 I didn’t have an opinion on gays serving. I knew gays served and the policy at that time was pretty straightforward. You’re gay, you’re out. I would NOW argue the regulation that prohibited gays from serving was fundamentally wrong. Like Galileo, the LTJG Thornes of this world who knew the regulation to be wrong, stood up to be heard and paid a heavy price twenty years ago and again last Tuesday.

LTJG Thorne likely didn’t know that there were roughly 40,000 active duty gays serving in 1992. But he did know that speaking out on national TV was a violation of the UCMJ Article 133, Conduct Unbecoming an Officer. The beef is this showed poor leadership and decision-making skills when he opted to “come out” on national television. I would argue, based on what I read in the Board of Inquiry transcript, that he was an outstanding officer, an up-and-coming leader, had a strong moral compass and was doing what history will one day show to be in the highest tradition of the naval service.

One thing that keeps rattling in my mind from reading the Board of Inquiry transcript is this: By 1992, no other major organization in the US other than the US Military was actively discriminating against gays for just being gay. If it wasn’t for service members like LTJG Thorne, I’m certain there would still be a ban on gays in the military, who now and have always numbered in the tens of thousands.

David Beemer has been a Virginia Beach resident since 1991. He is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, class of 1987.

10 thoughts on “LTJG Thorne

  1. Narceleb it absolutely right. The point is not that LTJG Thorne is a homosexual, or even that he engaged in homosexual acts (which I do not understand to have been one of the allegations of wrongdoing against him). The point is that he violated the UCMJ by using his status as an active-duty member of the military to pursue his personal political agenda, also a violation of his oath. NO one is entitled to use the uniform of our armed forces to pursue their personal agenda.

    So yes: LTJG Thorne going public on national TV while on active duty 20 years ago ABSOLUTELY disqualifies him to sit on the bench today. And virtually everything David says after that point is a craven effort to change the subject, which is this man’s prior oath and duty, and violations of both. And that he did so is CERTAINLY something which should be taken into account before placing him in another position of public trust, subject to another oath.

  2. Narceleb, I can’t think of anyone better to make the case that LTJG Throne was acting in the highest tradition of the Naval Service than Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

    When asked why gays should be allowed to openly serve he said “I have served with homosexuals since 1968,” “No matter how I look at the issue, I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens.” “For me, it comes down to integrity – theirs as individuals and ours as an institution.” Admiral Mullen retired a week later and when asked why he spoke out against the ban on gays he said he did it for reasons of conscience.

    LTJG Throne wasn’t a radical making a point. He was a young (STUPID) naval officer who came to the realization he was gay and spoke out against a policy he knew to be fundamentally wrong. That he did so while still serving is technically a violation of the UCMJ, but there are times when violating the UCMJ is exactly what leadership requires. The two Langley F-22 Raptor pilots technically violated the UCMJ when they went on 60 minutes saying they were being persecuted for refusing to fly a plane they knew to be unsafe. They did what they did because it needed to be done. I would argue LTJG Throne was doing something that needed to be done too.

    It’s important to note that just eighteen months after LTJG was honorably discharged, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell became law. Although over 14,000+ service members were forcible removed from the military under DADT it served as an important transition to the September 20, 2011 lifting of the gay service ban.

  3. Speaking out about a policy matter with which one disagrees is hardly equivalent to speaking out about a threat to the lives and safety of pilots and people on the ground.

    • Narceleb,

      You make a solid point. Clearly the safety of F-22 pilots and the massive cost associated with just a single F-22 accident makes what those pilots did OK.

      I would argue that over the years dozens maybe hundreds of “gay” service members committed suicide and had lives ruined by the military’s previous policies. I would also argue the training costs of thousands of service men and women discharged before and under DADT need to be considered as well.

      Speaking out on gays in the miltary is hardly the equivalent to the F-22 pilots… In scope in lives and dollars the gay issue dwarfs that of the F-22.

      Don’t believe me… I think Admiral Mullen made this case years ago and again as the ban was lifted:

      • Those homosexuals knew the policies in place when they entered. Also, there are suicides in the military all the time. If you attribute ALL suicides by homosexual to the fact that they were homosexual, then you have to attribute all suicides by heterosexuals to the fact that they were heterosexual.

        To have any valid case at all, you need to show the propensity for homosexuals in the military to commit suicide vs. heterosexuals who do, and compare those ratios to the ratios in the civilian world.

  4. First, Warren, why are you so sure that these folks knew, at the time they entered the military, that they were gay?

    And second, given that suicide rates for gay teens are significantly higher than straight teens, isn’t t just logical that the rates would be higher in the military?

    • Experience. All of my gay friends knew before they graduated from High School. Most people are dating in High School, and know what they prefer.

      Yes, gay teens do have a significantly higher suicide rate. That argues against what David implied, which was that Congress’ policy on homosexuals in the military was the cause of the increased suicide rate of homosexual service members.

      • Actually, that’s anecdotal evidence. I’m pretty confident that I know more gay people than you do. And a number of them did not know they were gay as teens.

        Actually, the higher suicide rate argues in favor. Because the policy exacerbated an already existing issue.

        • > a number of them did not know they were gay as teens.

          I’ll take your word for it. Did they think they were heterosexual? Did their preferences change as they grew older? Did they have no sexual attraction to anyone until years after puberty?

          > the policy exacerbated an already existing issue.

          That cannot be known until we have the suicide ratios in the civilian and military realms.

          -Warren

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