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DADT: A Gay Servicemember’s Perspective. Part I: Not-So-Straight Facts

Posted by ColoradoPatriot at 8:51 am - February 20, 2006.
Filed under: Gays In Military

Blogger’s Note:
I have been meaning to write this since Bruce invited me to join him and Dan as a regular contributor here at GP. Last week’s release of the University of California’s advocacy group CSSMM‘s study revealing that the costs of Bill Clinton’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy amounted to one one-hundredth of one percent of the military budget over 10 years seems to have re-sparked the debate about gays in the military. This will be the first in a series of posts I’ll make regarding facts, opinion, and the realities on the ground. The hope is to do a 3- or 4-part posting, each separated by a day or two to allow for dialog. I invite vigorous discussion, but do implore the readers and commenters to stick to the topics I raise and refrain from tangientially attacking one side or the other on issues of no relevance.

I’ve been advocating we maintain perspective on this issue for some time (alas, often in vain). But let’s start with some real facts before we move on:

1) The total number of gays discharged prior to DADT’s implementation will never be known. Gay ‘rights’ advocates who stomp around yelling about how many more gays have been discharged as a result of DADT are either consciously misleading their followers or are simply unfamiliar with how the military works and how it discharges people.
2) The reason this number cannot be known is that, prior to DADT, each prospective member was asked as part of the recruiting process if he was gay. Once DADT was put in place, this practice naturally ended. This means that,
3) A military member who came out as gay once he was enlisted (having, prior to DADT, signed a statement affirming he was not gay) was guilty of false enlistment.
4) Therefore, this member would not be kicked out of the military for being gay; No, he was kicked out for false enlistment, a far more serious matter. This had two results:
a) The member usually received a discharge under less-than-honorable circumstances, and
b) He would not be counted as having been kicked out “for being gay”
5) Now, there were some people discharged simply for being gay in the pre-DADT days. These were members who could convince their commanders that they were straight when they enlisted (and signed the paper saying so), but only afterwards realized they were gay. This realization is natural, of course, as most military members sign up at a time in their lives when they may not necessarily be aware of themselves fully. Although this type of realization happens often, back in those days, due to societal mores, few gays were self-aware enough to be able to articulate such a situation to a commanding officer when under the stress of being discharged.
6) Therefore, most (a vast majority of) gay members discharged from the military before DADT were not kicked out “for being gay”. On the other hand,
7) In the post-DADT world, damn-near all gay members booted under the policy are administratively discharged “for being gay”. (I say “damn-near all” because there are always some cases wherein a poorly-performing member has this tossed onto his pile of reasons. However, in these few instances, a servicemember’s sexuality is a moot point as he is not performing, which is the military’s focus in the first place.)
8) Which is to say, comparing the number of servicemembers kicked out “for being gay” pre-DADT and post-DADT is comparing apples to oranges (apologies for the fruit reference). The number of servicemembers who were told, “You’re gay, so you have to hit the road, sorry” was basically nil, as compared to now, where basically all of them are told this, instead of being dishonorably discharged for false enlistment.
9) It should be obvious to any observer that this is a much better (although admitedly not ideal) situation for a gay servicemember: Rather than having his future ruined with a Less-Than-Honorable Discharge (or a Court Martial conviction, which transfers to your record as a felony conviction), they are relieved of their duty and obligations without any official black mark. Ask any former servicemember who was kicked out with an LTO Discharge if he’d swap it for an Administrative Discharge, you’ll see what I mean.

Saying the number of discharges for gay members has risen as a result of DADT is like changing the definition of obesity and then saying the number of obese people has changed. You’re moving the ruler, not the measurement.

My point in bringing this to light is not to argue either side of the DADT debate. It is simply to make sure we’re all starting with the same facts on the ground. We can all come to different conclusions based on the facts, but when we allow one side of the debate to insult reality by manipulating the facts, we’re destined to fail to come to any acceptable consensus.

In my next post, we’ll go into perspective and what’s really important as we move forward with the debate.

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29 Comments

  1. One group has emerged that’s brining the debate across the country. The Call to Duty Tour features former servicemembers speaking against Don’t Ask Don’t Tell across college campuses nationwide.

    The tour is starting up next week. Three of their speaking engagements are going to be in Colorado, sometime in March.

    Comment by Scotty — February 20, 2006 @ 9:46 am - February 20, 2006

  2. Nick wrote…

    This will be the first in a series of posts I’ll make regarding facts, opinion, and the realities on the ground. The hope is to do a 3- or 4-part posting, each separated by a day or two to allow for dialog. I invite vigorous discussion, but do implore the readers and commenters to stick to the topics I raise and refrain from tangientially attacking one side or the other on issues of no relevance.

    Nick, I hate to break your etiquette rule, but I really feel the need to express this…

    WTF??? Sure, let’s debate the merits of DADT, but the sheer sanctimony and arrogance displayed in your post is appalling. For instance, as laudible as your fervent desire for unfailingly civil & intelligent debate is, attempting to control the ebb & flow of responses to ANY blog post (especially in the cloyingly paternal tone of your Blogger’s note) is ludicrous.

    Secondly, as much as I may agree with you, your inability to conceal your opinion on this issue in the body of your essay, followed by your assertion that you aren’t arguing “either side of the DADT debate” with this particular post is just annoying.

    Finally (and I apologize beforehand if this sentiment offends), but the fact that you intend to turn this issue into a series, wherein you’ll grace us all with your expertise, intellect & blatantly absent objectivity reeks of arrogance, especially when you choose NOT to preface your words with any clue as to what your qualifications are. To illlustrate, in light of my 6 years of service as an Army officer (albeit closeted) in the 1980’s, and close friendships with several gay servicemembers presently serving, I’d be more interested in knowing where the hell you’re coming from, and less in how you intend to imitate the MSM. In other words, it’s NEVER a good idea to admonish adults prior to opening up a discussion. I, for one, resent the hell out of it.

    Again, I’m sorry if it seems I’ve immediately left the topic, but aside from the fact that I don’t like being told what I can and cannot say, the notion that you’re going to “QuailGate” the DADT debate, when
    NOBODY responsible for the main page content of this site has seen fit to even acknowledge the Dubai/UAE ports issue, just screams for a swift response.

    Eric in Hollywood

    Comment by HollywoodNeoCon — February 20, 2006 @ 11:18 am - February 20, 2006

  3. Yep. HollywoodNeoCon got it right. The debate is welcomed. Bona fides are necessary.

    Comment by Gene — February 20, 2006 @ 11:22 am - February 20, 2006

  4. Bona fides establish credibility.

    Comment by Gene — February 20, 2006 @ 11:24 am - February 20, 2006

  5. Eric:
    Thanks for your service, and thanks for your input here. Do you have anything cogent or valid to add with regard to the point of my post?

    Comment by ColoradoPatriot — February 20, 2006 @ 11:39 am - February 20, 2006

  6. “In my next post, we’ll go into perspective and what’s really important as we move forward with the debate. ”

    “Debate”? Don’t you mean “lecture”?

    Comment by hank — February 20, 2006 @ 12:38 pm - February 20, 2006

  7. Side note – Bona fides among commentors don’t work to establish credibility among commentors – Not that you claimed otherwise; only noting it in a general way.

    CP, you’ve given some interesting background on DADT, but I am feeling some impatience to cut to the chase (that I know must come with future posts).

    DADT is problematic. The problem is this: Any servicemember who is discharged merely for saying they happen to be gay – as opposed to being discharged, say, because they caused some real problem in the unit – is one too many. From the standpoint both of moral principle, and of practicality.

    Other than the issue of administrative discharge vs. false enlistment discharge, DADT has not really changed anything from the previous policy (which was also wrong). The U.S. military should explicitly (not tacitly) allow NON-PROBLEM gays to serve. It should not require them to hide (i.e., lie), nor should it hound them unless they are the cause of an actual unit problem.

    That’s the chase scene! 🙂

    Comment by Calarato — February 20, 2006 @ 12:50 pm - February 20, 2006

  8. I think you make a good point in that you can’t directly compare pre and post DADT discharge numbers, because there isn’t any accurate measure of pre DADT discharges for being gay. I know when my husband was in the Navy pre DADT (and into the DADT years) the discharges for being gay were almost always administrative under the radar type discharges rather than court martials. Granted he didn’t know a ton of cases, but none of the ones he knew about involved a court martial.

    That said I agree with Calarato-gays should be allowed to serve openly in the military, and all behaviors regarding sex, sexual harrassement and fraternization can be dealt with in the UCMJ. If a member is serving honorably and doing their job, who they choose to have relationships with shouldn’t matter.

    Comment by Just Me — February 20, 2006 @ 1:19 pm - February 20, 2006

  9. CP: I look forward to reading your next few posts on this issue. Among the points I hope you will address is the relevance of your pointing out that $360 million dollars over 10 years amounts to one- one hundreth of one percent of the military budget for that time period. Are you suggesting that we, the taxpayers, should not be concerned about how an average of $36 million per year is spent? Are you suggesting that $360 million is such a trivial sum that spending that amount in connection with a policy that seems counter-productive to our military’s goals should be overlooked or dismissed as unimportant?

    Thank you in advance for your attention to this issue.

    Comment by Michael K. Bassham — February 20, 2006 @ 1:42 pm - February 20, 2006

  10. Point of order regarding formatting of the post. In the future, could you please insert an extra line between paragraphs or numbered or bulleted items? It would make the post much easier to read.

    Comment by raj — February 20, 2006 @ 1:56 pm - February 20, 2006

  11. Mr. Bassham:

    Excellent point! To be sure, the economic ramifications of a policy are very valid points of argument when reviewing a change in DADT. In my next post, I’ll address the utility of such arguments in possibly overturning the policy and why such a perspective far outweighs the typical emotional appeals from advocates.

    Comment by ColoradoPatriot — February 20, 2006 @ 2:02 pm - February 20, 2006

  12. I just wanted to add to the points about pre-DADT numbers. In WWII or WWI or farther back, there were very different ideas about what was a “gay” identity. Even a conviction on a charge of sodomy would not be enough proof that someone was gay since there is such a thing as conditional or situational homosexual romantic and sexual relationships among people who identify, and often are, straight.

    As far as the side issue of whether you should establish your “bona-fides”. I could care less. Really, its insulting. I’m not a child to be told that I’m incapable of critical analysis of someone Else’s point of view.

    So please, Colorado Patriot, use the maximum powers of persuasion at your disposal. Your readers and myself are capable of discernment, even if others do not think that we are.

    Comment by Patrick (Gryph) — February 20, 2006 @ 2:36 pm - February 20, 2006

  13. Nick, I can appreciate the sentiments of some voiced here who bristle under the lecturing tone of the intro and closing comments in your post. It goes against the WildWest-like nature of blogs and public comments –and any attempt to steer the debate, restrain topics of comments, or commentators seems… well, sort antithetical to the very things which make blogs unique. And the WildWest nature of blogs doesn’t preclude intelligent debate, discourse. I’ve learned a lot about opinions on DADT >>mostly because of insightful comments by folks like Calarato reminding me of the moral imperatives of this policy.

    That said, the differences between pre- and post-DADTDPDH policy are surprising to me. I reckon, from your perspective, the “Don’t Pursue or Don’t Harass” portions of the policy are failures –also. I have to tel you, the men I know serving don’t think so… they think it’s been a valuable effort and will help corps morale, unit cohesion.

    And while it might be fine for some to grab on to the higher figures ($364m vs $190m) purported by Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military, I still think the costs of the policy ought to be a topic for practical and pragmatic concern… as well as the “true” universe adversely affected by the policy, etc.

    Thanks for the observations, outlining some facts, and highlighting what you think has been a disservice on the part of some to twist the stats to their interests.

    Comment by Michigan-Matt — February 20, 2006 @ 2:42 pm - February 20, 2006

  14. How many gay servicepersons are getting kicked out on charges centered on sexual harassment? Are these losses being counted as orientation matters or violations of the UCMJ? Are unit CO’s kicking out sexual predators on the basis or their orientation because it is easier and much less unpleasant to do so than to dig into the sordid mess?

    When a gay man harrassed me in 1990, I did not file charges because I did not want to be a rat, and because I knew he was protected on high by the command. I deeply resented his conduct, but chose not to persue the matter because how badly it would reflect on me in trying to prove it to the military justice system. Today I would probably drop the dime on him in a second because I would only have to show evidence of inclination.

    Why is the service not better off with a greater capacity of dismissing sexual predators?

    Comment by Patrick Lasswell — February 20, 2006 @ 3:19 pm - February 20, 2006

  15. It’s fascinating to see what people homed in on in this message. My first impression was that it’s very accurate and informative and should help people better understand the situation before and after DADT. When I was discharged, officers submitted a chare of fraudulent enlistment just as he described. Some powerful people came to bat for me and wrote letters to the review board in my favor that helped me get an honorable discharge. The papers instead say “Discharge due to homosexuality or bisexuality.” This was before DADT.

    I can tell you that I was a basket case for a couple of months waiting for their decision to come back about whether I would get a LTO discharge.

    This is his blog and I expect him to state his opinion strongly. I think it just weakens a statement to start everything off with “IMO”. Seems like a silly thing to get so worked up over whether he sounds condescending. Instead of arguing about his tone, try effectively debating him on the points you disagree with.

    Comment by Dale in L.A. — February 20, 2006 @ 3:32 pm - February 20, 2006

  16. Patrick and Dale, thanks also to you for your service.

    Comment by ColoradoPatriot — February 20, 2006 @ 3:41 pm - February 20, 2006

  17. #14
    He “harrassed” you? You fail to say what that entailed. But, it seems to me that a grown man would say “knock it off”.

    Comment by hank — February 20, 2006 @ 3:45 pm - February 20, 2006

  18. #14 – “Why is the service not better off with a greater capacity of dismissing sexual predators?”

    Excellent point! – except, what on earth has it to do with DADT or gays?? Most sexual harassment is male-female. Also, most is superior-subordinate. If we are going to “profile” typical sexual harrassers and dismiss them, and be honest about it, we’d have to make a policy that concentrates on heterosexual males in positions of authority. Hmm, I am beginning to see the “value” (to them) of just talking about gays instead, or blaming it all on gays.

    Comment by Calarato — February 20, 2006 @ 4:29 pm - February 20, 2006

  19. I’m trying to force myself to read Gay Patriot a little bit every day, mostly because delusional lefty gay activist types hate this blog so passionately. I figure there most be something good about that.

    Anyway, I really didn’t see the tone of this post as lecturing, so much as making an argument, which is what you’re supposed to do as a commentator. It wasn’t objective, by a long shot. But I’d rather see someone who has developed an opinion that people who are afraid to say anything without softening and qualifying it.

    I have to say I was impressed because what you actually wrote made a lot of sense to me as a layman.

    Comment by Jack Malebranche — February 20, 2006 @ 6:50 pm - February 20, 2006

  20. 1: Thanks for the link. While I’m liberal and have issues with the decisions of our military leaders, I truly commend these people. They voluntarily put themselves in the position of helping to defend the nation (something a lot of pople who post who probably couldn’t/wouldn’t do). In addition, they’ve served double duty in combating these attitudes. I wish their tour was coming near me so I could see them speak.

    PS – I love how commanders talk aobut how bad unit cohesion would be if gays were allowed to openly serve; that’s the same excuse commanders used about racial integration in the armed forces until an executive order stopped that. the fight goes on.

    Comment by Kevin — February 20, 2006 @ 9:33 pm - February 20, 2006

  21. Why is the service not better off with a greater capacity of dismissing sexual predators?

    You might direct your question to the administrators at Anapolis and the US Air Force Academy, who have had their own problems with sexual predators over the last few years. Of course, in those cases, the predators were male, and heterosexual.

    Comment by raj — February 21, 2006 @ 12:07 am - February 21, 2006

  22. I can’t believe you guys are still discussing the issue of gays in the military. Wow. You’re almost as backwards as Iran (you know the REAL enemy we should be concentrating on) In our army all Canadians are treated equally. We have absolutely no problems. When you’re fighting for freedom, it makes sense to be free yourselves. We’re lucky. We are. As for gay conservatives? Give this free gay guy a break. Clap your hands and dance, you closeted gay Bojangles.

    Comment by Simon — February 21, 2006 @ 3:10 pm - February 21, 2006

  23. “You might direct your question to the administrators at Anapolis and the US Air Force Academy, who have had their own problems with sexual predators over the last few years. Of course, in those cases, the predators were male, and heterosexual.”

    Yeah, and as a matter of fact, the Air Force Acadey has an even bigger harrassmen issue when it comes to religion. I can see the value of harping on gays.

    Beyond the dollar amount of the waste, there is the matter of what MOSs are getting hit the hardest. All waste is bad, but some waste is more harmlful than other kinds. Every time some Arabic linguist gets chucked at this of all times, some more opinions change out here in Straightland. People think it is stupid and they don’t want to hear about unit cohesion – they want the incoherent to be the ones chucked out. BTW why do certain MOSs tend to get more of us? MI comes immediately to mind. I understand why people would end up in Arabic school – gag reflex and all that.

    Comment by Jim — February 21, 2006 @ 4:11 pm - February 21, 2006

  24. One group has emerged that’s brining the debate across the country. The Call to Duty Tour features former servicemembers speaking against Don’t Ask Don’t Tell across college campuses nationwide

    So they’re going to the most violently anti-military segment of our society, and to accomplish … what? The last place they need to be touring is on campuses.

    He “harrassed” you? You fail to say what that entailed. But, it seems to me that a grown man would say “knock it off”.

    There we go. Thank you for that. I’m 100% for gays serving in the military — provided that doesn’t tranlsate into a castration of the military, as women serving has done.

    Whining about “sexual harassment” is utter crap.

    Yeah, and as a matter of fact, the Air Force Acadey has an even bigger harrassmen issue when it comes to religion

    Also utter crap.

    Sensitivity has no place in the military.

    Comment by rightwingprof — February 21, 2006 @ 4:22 pm - February 21, 2006

  25. but only afterwards realized they were gay. This realization is natural, of course, as most military members sign up at a time in their lives when they may not necessarily be aware of themselves fully. Although this type of realization happens often, back in those days, due to societal mores, few gays were self-aware enough to be able to articulate such a situation to a commanding officer when under the stress of being discharged.

    I’m sorry, but if we’re talking about men, I don’t believe this for a second. The minute every male goes through puberty he knows what turns him on.

    Comment by rightwingprof — February 21, 2006 @ 9:52 pm - February 21, 2006

  26. They know when they’re five years old.

    Comment by hank — February 21, 2006 @ 11:02 pm - February 21, 2006

  27. Over 20 years ago I enlisted in the Navy. I had no trouble saying I was not gay, because I knew in America the military had no right to ask. I served half my career pre DADT and half after.

    DADT was the result of EVIL Republican’s manipulating President Clinton’s first days in office. It was obvious then that the primary reason gays in the military became a hot button issue during late December 1992 and Early Jan 1993 was because the Military was Clinton’s weakness. As a pot smoking “draft dodger” his credibility in the military was zero to begin with. By forcing the Gays in the Military to be his first public relations item, the EVIL Republican sound machine attempted to manipulated Clinton to enter office fighting a losing battle.
    All things considered I believe Clinton creating DADT was a political master stroke. No winners, just a lose-lose compromise in which very few people were happy.

    Kelly Lape
    USN Retired

    Comment by Kelly Lape — February 22, 2006 @ 6:04 pm - February 22, 2006

  28. […] ColoradoPatriot over at Gay Patriot is posting his informed thoughts on the question of gays in the military and DADT. Part 1 and Part 2 are up and worth reading (including the comments). He just posted Part 3 – and he plans three more posts. One question he addresses (and pretty much dismisses) is “the whole Truman thing” argument about why gays should and could serve openly. And it provoked some thoughts on equating racially integrating the armed forces (begun under Truman and really implemented under Eisenhower) and the gay soldier issue: […]

    Pingback by Gay Orbit » DADT and the Theban Band™ — February 24, 2006 @ 12:53 pm - February 24, 2006

  29. Kelly:
    Thanks so much for your service. Hopefully you’ll find the other parts of the series interesting.

    Comment by ColoradoPatriot — February 24, 2006 @ 8:10 pm - February 24, 2006

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