Not In My Corps: Separate But Equal?

As a year-long study begins on reversing the policy barring gays from serving openly in the military, the rhetoric has reached a new low.

In a move some on the sidelines may call “intolerant” at best, Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James T. “Not in My Corps” Conway is calling for separate but equal in a controversy he has allowed to engulf his Corps.

Conway has stated the majority of Marines do not want to room with someone of a different sexual orientation – and he would not ask them to. He’d like to offer single rooms to all Marines, or so he said in an interview with our friends at

Clearly, doubling the number of barracks rooms is not in the plan or budget. The statement is uncharacteristically boorish for a service chief. Conway has been in the Corps’ top spot for nearly four years. It has been a challenging time, an eternity leading a life as coveted commandant to thousands of screaming Gun Club fans and door mat to most outside the Corps. With the finish line in site (we hear he leaves in November) he presses on. As a one source put it in Conway’s handling of the media, “He endures.”

As we’ve written in the past, Conway is poised to protect his precious Corps. He is Don Quixote, every bit as tragic and naïve. But he has veered into the theater of the bitter and the absurd. (We empathize, but he gets paid more.)

Conway has long been openly opposed to any change to the current policy on homosexuals’ service in the military. He is concerned it would degrade combat effectiveness. Like many he may see it as the Corps’ Armageddon; victim of a liberal (yes, the “L” word) social experiment. Altering Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is akin to changes in racial and gender policies – historically the Corps has lagged on both. (Progress is not in the lexicon.)

Conway sells short his precious Corps. He does not acknowledge the maturity and adaptability of his Marines. His bigoted statements imply the Marine Corps is a Gun Club of intolerant homophobes. We don’t think that’s completely accurate.

Of course, the boys will rally behind their leader. He may be well-meaning, but he is suffocating what he holds dear and misrepresenting a rich tradition. (Ok, intolerance and bigotry are not unknown with this service, but until now it was the Corps’ dirty little secret.)

America’s Corps? That’s another myth. It is the Corps’ Corps.

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