Pentagon Says Homosexuality Not Mental Disorder

The Defense Department has decided that homosexuality is not a mental disorder but merely a condition akin to bed-wetting.

Pentagon guidelines that classified homosexuality as a mental disorder now put it among a list of conditions or “circumstances” that range from bed-wetting to fear of flying. The new rules are related to the military’s retirement practices. The change does not affect the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that prohibits officials from inquiring about the sex lives of service members and requires discharges of those who openly acknowledge being gay.


The guidelines outline retirement or other discharge policies for service members with physical disabilities. The rules include sections that describes other specific conditions, circumstances and defects that also could lead to retirement, but are not physical disabilities. Among the conditions are stammering or stuttering, dyslexia, sleepwalking, motion sickness, obesity, insect venom allergies and homosexuality.

“More than 30 years after the mental health community declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder, it is disappointing that the Pentagon still continues to mischaracterize it as a ‘defect,’ said Rep. Marty Meehan, D-Mass., a member of the House Armed Services Committee.

Aside from the rather perplexing thirty-odd year lag in revising their stance on mental health and homosexuality, this would seem to have a rather odd implication. One would think gays discharged from the military on those grounds would be entitled to tax-free disability pay for the rest of their lives. My guess is that this is just bad reporting, though, as I’ve never heard of a soldier being chaptered out for being overweight and then collecting benefits as a result.

FILED UNDER: LGBTQ Issues, Military Affairs, , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Anderson says:

    Pentagon guidelines that classified homosexuality as a mental disorder now put it among a list of conditions or “circumstances” that range from bed-wetting to fear of flying.

    Right, it’s just a weird phobia of the other sex’s genitals, plus an inexplicable attraction to genitals of the same sex. Maybe the Pentagon will send gay soldiers to the same rehab Ted Haggard’s going to.

  2. What the civilian public fails to understand is that a military defect is not an overall defect.

    Pacifism is a defect in a military man, because he is expected to kill the enemy. Even if he’s given a desk job, ultimately his mission is to support and expedite the killing of the enemy. This is a conflict of interest.

    Likewise, homosexuality represents a conflict of interest. Sex is a distraction among men who may be about to die. There is a powerful biological urge to reproduce and fulfill one’s [evolutionary|divine] purpose. For this reason, the military keeps women off the front lines – not because they are in any way inferior, but because they represent a massive danger to the mission. The soldiers’ access to sex must be regulated and controlled. If they can have sex with each other, the regulation and control go out the window.

    It is also not clear whether a heterosexual’s biological drive to reproduce will sublimate to a homosexual relationship in the absence of the opposite gender. History suggests it will, so it is in the military’s best interest to actively encourage a degree of homophobia among combat soldiers: if military society does not accept sex among soldiers, they will reject it. Again, this is to maintain control over soldiers’ access to sex.

    These have nothing to do with whether homosexuality in and of itself is a bad thing; it is simply whether it represents more risk or benefit to the mission. There is no benefit to having a homosexual on the front lines. If he were not a homosexual, he would be just as valuable and useful. But by being a homosexual, he represents a risk – and while I believe heterosexuals tend to overestimate that risk, the risk does exist. Education and familiarity will erase the overestimation, but not the risk.

    The “don’t ask don’t tell” policy is stupid. I think we can do better, but my ideas are too complex to discuss here… and probably too complex for the military to accept.

  3. G A Phillips says:

    Yes Caliban, we can do better, just say no.