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Adultery Debated Issue In Military

In 1995 Lieutenant Kelly Flinn became the United States? first female B-52 Bomber pilot. One year later Lt. Flinn began a relationship with a man who was legally separated from his wife with a divorce pending. Eventually Lt. Flinn fell in love with the man and the Air Force charged her with adultery. The charges against Lt. Flinn left her facing dismissal from the military and the possibility of serving up to nine-and-a-half years in prison. In military trials a panel of six military officials decide one?s fate.

After the Air Force went public and told reporters about the decision to court-martial her, Lt. Flinn?s family contended that the matter could have been handled differently because other officers in similar situations had received counseling and fines. However, Lt. Flinn?s family also decided to go public. Finally, Lt. Flinn told her story and it was apparent that publicity efforts were helping her. When Senator Slade Gorton(R-Washington) questioned the Air Force?s handling of the case other congressional members joined in to defend Lt. Flinn.

The case was taken up with the Defense Secretary William Cohen. After a negative public reaction, Air Force Secretary Sheila Widnall considered granting Lt. Flinn an honorable discharge if she resigned. Because the likelihood of receiving a prison sentence was clear to her, Lt. Flinn resigned. In the end Secretary Widnall announced that she was only granting Lt. Flinn a general discharge.

There have been many responses and public opinions over the issues of military standards. Some say that the armed forces must uphold rigid standards while others are commenting that moral standards for members of the armed forces should not be higher than those for civilians. It is unfair to require the armed forces to be a repository of moral values for the nation. Manuel Davenport contends that ? the military must be better because it deals with matters of life and death.?

James A. Haught from Times depicted the inconsistency in many cases and said ? the inconsistency in these cases underscores the absurdity of the military?s strictures against adultery, the military has stepped up its prosecution of adultery to the point that offends common sense, good management and current societal norms.? Precisely, even though the armed forces need stricter discipline than civilian life does, it is ludicrous for the Pentagon to become a puritanical ayatollah policing bedroom habits.


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