Thursday, June 07, 2007

On military conduct

This question was brought up during the GOP debate regarding homosexuals openly serving in the military. Here is a good explaination.

When does the military prosecute "immoral behavior"?
You name it. Bigamy, sodomy (with either gender), wrongful cohabitation, gambling, dueling, indecent exposure, indecent language, indecent acts, pandering, prostitution—all of these are considered crimes under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
If you're an officer, you're also subject to a general prohibition on "conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman." This rule, as interpreted in the military's 900-page courts-martial manual, can be used to prosecute things like cheating on tests, stealing, public drunkenness, failing to support your family, and reading someone else's mail. To top it off, the military can also prosecute anyone for anything that damages the "good order and discipline in the armed forces" or makes them look bad.

Bonus Explainer: If actions like adultery and sodomy are legal for regular civilians, why are they illegal in the military? Because the military is special. The 1974 decision Parker v. Levy established the military as a "specialized society" with different laws from civilian society—a notion even the founding fathers recognized when, in the Fifth Amendment, they exempted "the land or naval forces" from having to call a grand jury to indict people for capital or "otherwise infamous" crimes.*

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