On the opening day of the Clinton Presidential Center honoring former President Bill Clinton, NewsMax.com pundit and former U.S. Representative John LeBoutillier (R-NY) -- a co-founder of the Counter Clinton Library -- accused Clinton of destroying military morale by allowing gays in the armed services and women in combat operations.
On the November 18 edition of FOX News Channel's Hannity & Colmes, LeBoutillier said: "What he [Clinton] did to ... our military, the morale in the military was shot. He turned it into a social experiment: gays in the military, women in combat." But gays in the military are still not permitted to openly disclose their sexuality, and women are still not permitted to engage in direct combat military operations. Furthermore, high-ranking Republican officials have joined the former president in recognizing the need to revise absolute bans on homosexuals in the military and women in combat.
In April 1993, Clinton administration Secretary of Defense Leslie Aspin revised military policy to permit women to serve assignments in combat aircraft and vessels, as well as in field artillery and air defense. But the criteria established under Aspin did not allow women to serve in direct ground combat. According to a Congressional Research Service report outlining the criteria: "Women may not serve in units that engage an enemy on the ground with weapons, are exposed to hostile fire, and have a high probability of direct physical contact with the personnel of a hostile force."
In fact, President George W. Bush's administration is negotiating a policy change that would allow women to serve in direct combat. As The Washington Times reported on October 22: "The Army is negotiating with civilian leaders about eliminating a women-in-combat ban so it can place mixed-sex support companies within warfighting units, starting with a division going to Iraq in January . ... [T]he Army is now in discussions with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's staff to see whether the 10-year-old ban [Aspin adjusted the rules in 1994] policy in this one area should be lifted."
Clinton, who in November 1992 declared his intention to lift the ban on gays and lesbians in the military, was not the only prominent politician to criticize the ban in the early 1990s. As The Washington Post reported on August 1, 1991, then-Defense Secretary and current Vice President Dick Cheney "rejected as 'a bit of an old chestnut' the idea that homosexuals present a security risk to the military. He appeared to distance himself from 'a policy I inherited' that 'a gay lifestyle is incompatible with military service.'"
The ban on homosexuals in the military was not completely lifted. Rather, in 1993 Congress enacted a compromise policy of "don't ask, don't tell," which still prohibits homosexuals from openly disclosing their sexual orientation while serving in the military. And as the gay military advocacy group Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) noted on October 20, "[a]pproximately 10,000 service members have been discharged under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" since its passage in 1993."
LeBoutillier is a pundit for the conservative website NewsMax.com who served one term in Congress -- from 1981 to 1983 -- as a representative from New York. He is also a co-founder, along with Texas businessman Richard Erickson, of the Counter Clinton Library, which the two have announced their intention to build in Little Rock, Arkansas, as "a permanent facility that will forever counter the lies and distortions certain to come from the Clinton Liebrary [sic]." LeBoutillier and Erickson had announced in 2002 that they were planning a facility "within walking distance of the future Clinton Presidential Center in downtown Little Rock" to be "filled with rooms such as the Hillary Hall of Shame, Pardons for Dollars and National Insecurity Hall." According to a November 11 article in the Arkansas Times, a site for the facility has not yet been selected.