Military allows porn, despite ban

WASHINGTON — Pentagon officials continue to allow the sale of adult magazines on military property despite a ban on sexually explicit material, and the decision has caused alarm among pro-family organizations.

"Incredibly, the Department of Defense does not consider such publications as Penthouse, Playboy, Playboy's Nude Playmates and Playmates in Bed magazines to be sexually explicit," according to the American Family Association, which has started a letter-writing campaign to Congress to "require the Department of Defense to obey the law."

The Military Honor and Decency Act of 1996 banned "the sale or rental of sexually explicit material on property under the jurisdiction of the Department of Defense."

However, a Defense review board established for the purpose of regulating these materials decided, "based solely on the totality of each magazine's content, they were not sexually explicit," according to USA Today.

In 1998, two years after the law was put in place, materials deemed "lewd and lascivious" were pulled from the shelves in military stores. The board, which is now set to review sexually explicit material every five years, according to a June release from the Pentagon, is allowing Playboy and Penthouse to be sold.

"People do not buy these magazines for the intellectually stimulating articles. Take out the pictures of nude women, and sales of these magazines would collapse," said Barrett Duke, vice president for public policy of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. "The Department needs to replace the people who made this absurd decision with people whose moral compass still functions."

Patrick Trueman, special counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund and former head of the Justice Department's anti-obscenity section, said claims these magazines are not pornographic or sexually explicit are ridiculous.

"They say, 'Well, 40 percent of this magazine is sexually explicit pictures, but 60 percent is writing or advertising, so the totality is not sexually explicit,'" Trueman told USA Today.