60 Minutes correspondent Morley Safer did his best to make Colonel Steve Loomis out to be a sympathetic character. He showed Loomis at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall. He talked about Loomis’s medals and distinguished military career. Loomis was shown as his voice cracked with emotion as he talked about serving his country. But even Safer couldn’t hide the basic facts about the bizarre homosexual relationships that forced Loomis out of the service.
Loomis, 45 years old, was outed and ousted after Army Private Michael Burdette, 19, set a fire in Loomis’ home in an attempt to destroy nude photos that Loomis had taken of him. They had a homosexual relationship together. Firefighters thought a loaded video camera discovered in the rubble might provide a clue to the identity of the arsonist. The tape, which included images of Loomis engaged in sexual acts with three other enlisted men, was turned over to the Army.
Typically, news reports conceal the nature of the scandal. For example, George Edmonson of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that “an arson investigation of a fire at his home turned up evidence that he was gay,” not going into any detail about the evidence. Safer discussed the evidence. But he failed to note that political pressure has been brought on behalf of Loomis by Reps. Barney Frank and 18 other members of Congress, who signed a letter protesting the Army’s handling of the case. Frank, of course, is openly homosexual and was reprimanded by the House of Representatives for having a relationship with a homosexual prostitute.
Loomis’ relationship with the Army private was a blatant violation of the military’s rules against homosexual conduct and fraternization. The new wrinkle in this case, which dates back several years, was that the former Judge Advocate General of the Navy, retired Admiral John Hutson, said that it was time to allow homosexuals to serve openly in the military. Hutson was interviewed by Safer.
But this wasn’t new, either. Hutson had called for lifting the ban in an article published in the National Law Journal in August. He was quoted in the Hartford Courant as saying that young people today don’t have “hang-ups” about taking showers and sleeping in berthing areas with people of a “different orientation.” He also says, “there are plenty of dedicated gay patriots in the armed forces.” Was Colonel Loomis a “gay patriot” when he engaged in homosexual conduct with other soldiers and took nude photos of one of them? 60 Minutes did its best to put a happy face on a sick and ugly situation that Loomis says is “private.”
Loomis is suing the federal government for military benefits and wants to overturn the anti-homosexual policy. It’s not beyond the realm of possibility that some liberal judge somewhere could rule in his favor. All of the Democratic presidential candidates, including General Wesley Clark, are on record in favor of repealing the current policy. In a related matter, the U.S. Naval Academy Alumni Association is being pressured to create a chapter for its gay, lesbian, and transgendered graduates.