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DADT: A Gay Servicemember’s Perspective. Part V: How You Gonna Do That?

Posted by ColoradoPatriot at 10:03 am - March 1, 2006.
Filed under: Gays In Military

Blogger’s Note:
Don’t worry, I’ll shut up soon. This is the fifth in a series of six posts on DADT. The final one is coming either Friday or over the weekend. To catch up, enjoy the previous posts here: Post I, Post II, Post III, and Post IV.

Based on the comments on the earlier posts, it seems clear we’re not all in agreement as to the best approach for arguing the case for lifting the ban on open homosexuals in the US Military. In fact, some readers aren’t even in agreement that it should be lifted at all. That’s fair. But for the moment, I’d ask to suspend doubt at this point and think rather about how (if if happened) a change in the policy could be implemented.

I suggested earlier that no change ever just happens in the military, and great care is taken whenever a policy adjustment is made. In that spirit, we should begin with a study. I propose the US Military conduct a study of how well our straight soldiers interact with their gay counterparts. Which gay counterparts, you may ask? Well, two of our strongest allies in the current engagement liberating Iraq, England and Australia, allow openly gay men and women to serve. I’m not familiar with the policies of these two nations’ militaries, but I presume homosexuals are currently supporting the mission in SWA. Inasmuch, I can’t imagine they’re quarantined from their countrymen nor from the American troops. So, simply, how’s that all going? How does it work? Are special accommodations deemed necessary? And if so, how is that arranged? How do our troops work with them? What are their attitudes? How (if at all) is it impacting the mission? See, when the rubber hits the road, so to speak, some pertinent questions do come up. Let’s take advantage of the incidental interaction of gay and straight troops to determine, if possible, what sort of complications may arise.

Now about the actual implementation of a policy, here’s how I think it could work:

Similar to a uniform change, we could launch a pilot study. I suggest the military authorize a couple units (probably non-combat, non-deployable, probably office-environment) to allow their existing homosexuals to come out. These servicemembers would have a window (say, a year?) to come out to their commanders. Nobody would be compelled to do so, but all in these units would be welcome to if they so desired. After the window closed, it’d be back to DADT and the current policy (at least until a determination was made as to the benefit of changing the policy). After a period of time, we can assess the impact to the mission. From that impact, we can determine if it’d be in our best National Defense interest to broaden the scope.

The issue with this analogy is that, if a uniform change is not made, after the pilot study is finished, those participating go back to the old uniform and put away the prototype forever. Obviously an out servicemember can’t just go back in the closet. Therefore, all the soldiers, airmen, sailors, and Marines who came out during this time would be protected from discharge for their admissions for the rest of their careers. They’d not be compelled to tell anybody else after the window was closed (i.e., future commanders). Since the cat would already be out of the bag, perhaps they’d be allowed to be out to their future leadership as well, but any attempts to kick them out for being gay would not be permitted regardless of whether the policy changes or not. To enforce this, the servicemember in question (during that window) would have to submit his homosexuality in writing to his commander if he wants to participate. This way, after the pilot was over, he couldn’t be accused of missing the window.

Now, I’m sure there are many potential problems with this argument and hopefully we can work through some of them in the comments section (I know you’ll come up with many ;-)) Here are a couple I’ve come up with, and arguments hopefully helping out:

1) How do you keep commanders down the road (or even during the pilot) from targeting these troops unfairly for discharge (i.e., drumming up charges)?
My reply: Well, you can’t. We have to rely on the professionalism of the officers in charge to play fair. What’s to keep them from doing that to anybody for any petty reason now or any time anyway? Yes, there are bad apples, but I have faith in these officers. Those who don’t will find it hard to argue with me about any military subject.

2) Why should this be only for some units? If you’re not in one of the units participating, you’re out of luck. That’s not fair.
My reply: Yes, I know.

3) What if they’re harassed by other troops, before or after the pilot?
My reply: This goes to order and discipline in a unit. Just as it sickens me that gays (or those presumed to be gay) on rare occasions are beaten up by their fellow troops these days, it’s incumbent on the commanders (regardless of the policy on homosexuals) to foster within their units the (common-sensical, in my opinion) atmosphere that it’s never acceptable to beat up or harm your fellow servicemembers for any reason. Ever. To this end, I again rely on the professionalism of the officers in charge.

Feel free to add to this list of possible issues and hopefully together we can work through them (that’s the idea here).

Coming up in the swan-song post in this series, I’ll change gears and speak more from my cold, black, military heart. I promise everybody will find something objectionable there. Till then, again, please play nice.

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25 Comments

  1. Actually I don’t think you need a pilot program at all. There are many, many gays and lesbians who serve openly in the military today. Their local chain of command simply avoids the subject. They treat them the same as every other solider based on the quality of thier work and professionalism.

    Nevertheless, these openly gay solders are working, living, sleeping, and in combat with straight soldiers who know they are gay.

    So I don’t think you need a special program, you just need to go around to the particular units where this has occurred and look at them to see what worked and what didn’t.

    BTW, another cost to the DADT policy that I did not see discussed earlier was the effect it has on the straight members of units left behind when a gay servicmember is kicked out.

    What happens when you have a smoothly running, professional unit going and one person gets suddenly removed arbitrarily through no fault of their own? Does that reinforce or degrade traditional military values? Does that effect the efficiency, morale and readiness of that particular unit?

    Comment by Patrick (gryph) — March 1, 2006 @ 1:42 pm - March 1, 2006

  2. One issue I have with your proposal is that it involves humans in a way that I don’t know if I am comfortable with it. This isn’t like asking for volunteers to come down to the psych department a few hours and do some tests, this is the life and job of the people involved, both gay and straight.

    Although one study I would like to see done is of service members themselves-specifically how they feel about openly gay members being able to serve, what situations would or wouldn’t make them comfortable, and if there was a way for the military to address those issues.

    I suspect that the people most adamantly opposed are not going to be the younger enlisted guys-since younger people trend towards more acceptance and tolerance of gays (granted the military lifestyle may have skewed results in this regard, which is why I think an indepth study of thoughts and feelings of service members is in order).

    I also think rather than just a human study, where gays “come out” in a unit or two, it may be better to address concerns that can be addressed, and make sure the UCMJ is updated to reflect the perameters of sexual behavior so that it applies to homosexual relationships (ie fraternization, and similar behavioral prohibitions) and just jump in and get wet.

    Comment by Just Me — March 1, 2006 @ 1:47 pm - March 1, 2006

  3. Coming from a military family, I think that you have the solution somewhat backwards. The “problem” is not the gay servicemen and their behavior. (The naughty boys of the 82nd Airborne are outside of the DADT issue, they pornofied themselves, violated standing orders, and shold be racked.) The problem is primarily the reactions and behavior of the “straight boys” in the service. If the rationale is unit cohesion and discipline; then the first step is a vigorous and even-ruthless suppression of homophobic speech and behavior throughtout the military BEFORE ending DADT. Physical assaults and slurs must be rigorously and openly punished. Just as overt racism became a career-killer, being known as a homophobe needs to be a career-ender…especially for the officer corps.

    Generals need to know that an assault…and especially a murder…will end their careers unless they vigorously pursue the attackers. And that tolerating atmospheres taht lead to such an attack will still be a black-mark. NCO’s need to know that using or tolerating homophobic behavior or slurs will shut-down their advancement and hasten their being “downsized” out of the service.

    Once you have the abusive and “wink and a nod” behavior out of the rank-n-file; then DADT becomes a non-issue since no service member shoud be asked in the first place. The second-phase would then be an atmosphere were the official-policy is “we don’t care, and your not getting out”. Eliminate the abusive behavior and you eleminate the need to seek a separation from the service. The UCMJ and the traditions of the services can deal with dating and the avoidance of “favoritism” and “predatory behavior” through the same rules that exist between the sexes…with some subtle re-writes. Once you have reduced the sexual-tension, you have eliminated much of the disruption.

    The issue of allowing boyfriends to live on-base can be short-circuited by applying the same rules as “married couples” and the national debate on gay-marriage. Off-base, does it really matter if two officers or enlisted sharing an apartment might only have one bed? The ruels against “fraternization” can be fairly applies for all gender-combinations.

    This needs to be implemented from the top-down, and does not intitially require an end to DADT, though that would help. It’s an issue of DISCIPLINE. Commanders must impress on their junior-commanders and men that this homophobic-behavior and culture will not be tolereted, and to “…keep your opinions to yourselves”. The miltary made using the N-word a instant career-killer, doing the same with the Q- and F-word merely takes Leadership…it doesn’t need Congress.

    Comment by Ted B. (Charging Rhino) — March 1, 2006 @ 2:11 pm - March 1, 2006

  4. I would like to also point out that there have been a number of studies already on this issue both from within the Pentagon and from without. They came to the conclusion that integration would have little to no effect and some I believe outlined suggest guidelines etc. They all were ignored, suppressed, etc.

    Just having facts on your side in the debate simply isn’t enough. The policy was not enacted in the midst of piratical concerns, but rather for political reasons and prejudice.

    I remember the hearings by Sam Nunn. It was clear from the outset that no amount of facts would convince them to change their minds on the issue. The hearings were for show, to give cover to the decision. The outcome was preordained.

    It is however a different environment today, and facts and studies may be of more use, but they alone will not change the policy.

    Comment by Patrick (gryph) — March 1, 2006 @ 3:05 pm - March 1, 2006

  5. Thoughtful posits, Nick.

    If you can believe the statistics in the DoD’s DMDC 2005 report on the incidence of reported sexual harassment in the military academies -whether major or minor- the best & brightest of the military’s entering leadership is fraught with sexual tension, missteps, and errors. And that’s the future leadership –not the rank and file, front line enlisted personnel.

    The 2005 report indicated that at West Point, about 62% of responders said they could report sexual harassment; at the AF Academy, it’s 49%; at Annapolis it’s 59% –all down from prior years. But that still seems high to me.

    I know, some will quible over whether a reported incidence has merit… but that misses the point. The point is that these environs are already fraught with problems and this is the FUTURE leadership of the military and that doesn’t speak too well for tolerance and political correctness.

    Comment by Michigan-Matt — March 1, 2006 @ 3:14 pm - March 1, 2006

  6. GG, any cite you’d care to share? Particularly your statement “I would like to also point out that there have been a number of studies already on this issue both from within the Pentag….”

    “Just having facts on your side in the debate simply isn’t enough.”

    I know, facts can be pesky. It’s why some prefer to state opinions as facts rather than provide debatable proof. It happens all too often.

    Comment by Michigan-Matt — March 1, 2006 @ 3:19 pm - March 1, 2006

  7. Ted I don’t know that you can totally drop the problems that may come about in the laps of the straights in the military.

    Up until there is a change, gays will have served in secret. If they are given a green light to serve openly, dynamics may change, and they may change for both gays and straights.

    I also don’t think the solution is to turn every straight person into a homophobe, some of their concerns are legitimate concerns (ie sharing a room with a homosexual isn’t quite the same thing as asking a white soldier to share a room with a black soldier, because with race there is not and wasn’t ever the overt issue of who is attracted sexually to who).

    Turning straights in the military, who have legitimate concerns (even if some of those concerns may eventually end up with the answer of “get over it”) shouldn’t be turned into bad guys anymore than gays in the military right now should be. Sex, sexuality, and who a person is attracted to is a dynamic that just isn’t comparable to race, when you get down to how people relate to each other.

    I think most of the issues regarding sex, sexual behavior and harrassment, can be addressed in the UCMJ, but I don’t think we should scare straight soldiers into being afraid to speak up about concerns out of a fear for their own careers.

    For instance, should a straight soldier be required to room with a gay soldier? Unlike the civilian world, neither soldier is given a choice here, and a reluctance on the part of the straight guy doesn’t neccessarily mean he is out to beat up gays or harm them.

    Comment by Just Me — March 1, 2006 @ 3:29 pm - March 1, 2006

  8. I’m not against getting rid of DADT, or letting anyone serve. DADT is an unethical, immoral policy — because it forces recruits to be dishonest.

    But this, I am absolutely against:

    this homophobic-behavior and culture will not be tolereted

    This is the sort of castrating, pussifying left-wing victim crap that has no place in the military. Ever. If somebody calls you a fag, be a man and not some whiny little sissyboy.

    Physical assault is dealt with in the code. There is no reason to have a special little section just for gays, and there is certainly no reason or excuse for any “sensitivity” nonsense.

    Comment by rightwingprof — March 1, 2006 @ 4:59 pm - March 1, 2006

  9. On the British (not the same as W’s understanding of the English land mass known as Great British) military, I understood it was court-enforced. If that matters once the sunlight pours in…

    Comment by Michigan-Matt — March 1, 2006 @ 4:59 pm - March 1, 2006

  10. rwp, I’m guessing you don’t favor the latest politically correct construct proposed in the wake of the military opening up to female service and the resultant irritations… the Office of Victim Advocacy?

    Comment by Michigan-Matt — March 1, 2006 @ 5:15 pm - March 1, 2006

  11. “One issue I have with your proposal is that it involves humans in a way that I don’t know if I am comfortable with it. This isn’t like asking for volunteers to come down to the psych department a few hours and do some tests, this is the life and job of the people involved, both gay and straight.”

    Just Me, bless you. It is so good to have a civilian commenting here to remind us that human beings have the right to thier own initiative. But you know that things have to be different in the military. People don’t control even thier own bodies – that can be ordered to get vaccinations they don;t like, punished for getting sunburns, and all for very valid reasons.

    “For instance, should a straight soldier be required to room with a gay soldier? ”

    The easy answer is that they obviously are already doing that, butu this is still a very good point you make because the obvious answer to that is that the straights don;t know about the situation necessarily. In fact at present nobody knows. You can easily have two gay soldiers each believing the roommate is straight. But knowing the reality changes the dynamic, quite apart from the relaity itself.

    Comment by Jim — March 1, 2006 @ 5:56 pm - March 1, 2006

  12. I just had an epiphany! I have a solution to the problem that even RWP and Michigan Matt can appreciate. In place of DADT and requiring gay people to be secretive, how about we replace it with a ban on liberals serving in the military? This will prevent the “castrating and pussifying” of the military that RWP speaks of. Meanwhile, it will still effectively ban 75% of gay people, many of whom may actually have a negative affect on morale in a military environment since they’ll be all anti-war and anti-guns, and they’ll be whiny and protest all the time and want sensitivity training.

    You may now bask in the light of my brilliance. ; )

    Comment by Dale in L.A. — March 1, 2006 @ 5:57 pm - March 1, 2006

  13. “This is the sort of castrating, pussifying left-wing victim crap that has no place in the military. Ever. If somebody calls you a fag, be a man and not some whiny little sissyboy.

    Physical assault is dealt with in the code. There is no reason to have a special little section just for gays, and there is certainly no reason or excuse for any “sensitivity” nonsense.”

    Amen Amen Amen. I never expected this, but we agree on something.

    The issue has been where physical assaults have not been dealt with. That is a separate issue, and commanders just need to be canned when that happens.

    Comment by Jim — March 1, 2006 @ 6:03 pm - March 1, 2006

  14. Patrick, #1, the units you cite would save the time and cost of tests. But how would the Pentagon find these units? Do you really believe that commanders “ignoring” openly gay personnel are going to report that fact to senior commanders.

    Just Me, #2, I agree that an official Pentagon-sponsored survey or study of servicemens’ attitudes is needed, provided: a respected, independent organization is contracted to conduct the survey or study and results of the study are made public without first going to the Bush administration, where someone who disagrees with the results can stick it on a shelf.

    Ted, #3, you make a great point. Equality in the military won’t work until straights change their attitudes but the reality is no one is going to put all the burden on straights in uniform. Changing the minds and hearts of straight troops and officers is just part of the solution.

    Dale, #12, i resent your allegation that removing “liberals” from the armed services would remove 75 percent of the gays who you think are likely anti-war, anti-gun and whiny anyway. It’s been my experience that gay members of the armed services are just as patriotic and just as committed to the mission as their straight counterparts. Maybe more so because of the burden of having to live a lie in order to serve their country.

    Nick has provided us a very thoughtful and interesting series to prompt our thinking and debate. Today, especially — at least comments 1-12 — those posting comments have offered great points for consideration.

    Comment by Jack Allen — March 1, 2006 @ 11:06 pm - March 1, 2006

  15. GG, any cite you’d care to share? Particularly your statement “I would like to also point out that there have been a number of studies already on this issue both from within the Pentag….”

    hmmm, there have been quite a few. One by the Rand corporation, (on behalf of the Pentagon) One by the Army War College…

    The first one I’m aware of was the “Nonconforming Sexual Orientations and Military Suitability” study prepared by the the “Defense Personnel Security Research and Education Center” (PERSEREC) aka the DOD, way back in 1988. It was instantly suppressed.

    If you are actually curious Michigan-Matt, you can start at some of the references at the link below. Yes it is an anti-DADT site, but since it references a lot of actual government documents you should be able to find your way through any rhetoric you might encounter.

    http://www.gaymilitary.ucsb.edu/Publications/PublicationsHome.htm

    And my name is “Patrick” or “Gryphmon” not Grandpa anything BTW,. I’m assuming that you just don’t know that. Since otherwise it would mean you are being extremely juvenile by making fun of someone’s name. It’s very third grade and I don’t recall doing the same to you.

    Comment by Patrick (Gryph) — March 2, 2006 @ 12:06 am - March 2, 2006

  16. As ColoradoPatriot wrote in his post, we don’t really know much about how Britain and Australia handled the integration of openly gay personnel into the military.

    The following from pinknews.co.uk doesn’t tell the whole story, but does offer a glimpse of how some in the service are dealing with it:

    “One of the 19th Century’s fastest and largest battleships is set to make more waves when she hosts her first civil partnership.

    “Lieutenant Commander Jim Phillips, 31, will become the second Royal Navy officer to have a same sex ceremony when he registers his partnership to Marcus Rutter on HMS Warrior this weekend.

    “LtCdr Phillips, a weapons engineer officer, told Portsmouth Today, ‘i’d say a significant proportion of my colleagues know I’m gay but there have been no problems or prejudices at all. It’s been work as usual.’

    “‘I think most people are mature and educated enough for it not to be an issue.’

    “They met on the Internet and after months of emails, and web chats, got together in March 2001. Around 70 guests are expected for the ceremony which takes place on the couple’s fifth anniversary.”

    It seems the Brits are more civilized than those of us on this side of the pond.

    Comment by Jack Allen — March 2, 2006 @ 2:07 am - March 2, 2006

  17. I think that we would do better with the military — more likely to gain their trust in us — if most of the community, with their liberal agenda, didn’t oppose all of our defense (and, yes, offense, too — like in Iraq) efforts. As it stands now, most people think that if you are gay, then naturally you oppose the war — actually, any war. I have thought for a long time that the community gets involved with a lot of liberal stances which have nothing to do with being gay. If you aren’t a vocal liberal, you actually get run out. I have been run out. I live out in the straight world. Anyway, I can’t help but think that we get used by the liberals. They are the first ones to call someone gay — like that is a bad thing. They aren’t very good allies. Look at what the Jews have to put up with, with most of the left supporting the Palestinians. The same sort of thing happens to us. Gay issues are gay issues, and we should be pursuing those. Just a thought.

    Bye, Dana

    Comment by Dana Lotzgesell — March 2, 2006 @ 7:28 am - March 2, 2006

  18. rwp, I’m guessing you don’t favor the latest politically correct construct proposed in the wake of the military opening up to female service and the resultant irritations… the Office of Victim Advocacy?

    You guess correctly. It’s worse than a farce; it’s a liberal attempt to “sensitize” and feminize the military.

    As for now allowing liberals to serve, not many do anyway.

    Comment by rightwingprof — March 2, 2006 @ 10:46 am - March 2, 2006

  19. #17 Great points Dana! Like with gay marriage, equal economic and civil rights for gays, gay adoption, and special govt protected “rights” for gays against crime, bullying in schools, or advancing special govt programs for institutionalizing gay victimhood, America will never repeal DADTDH until a less radical face is put on the advocacy… sort of like what Nick is doing here.

    We’d win more if reasoned, dispassionate, thoughtful advocates from the moderate and conservative segments of our community were leading the fight –but the gay political power elite will never lessen their grip on the heated passions of the radicals.

    Comment by Michigan-Matt — March 2, 2006 @ 11:15 am - March 2, 2006

  20. do better with the military — more likely to gain their trust in us — if most of the community, with their liberal agenda, didn’t oppose all of our defense (and, yes, offense, too — like in Iraq) efforts. As it stands now, most people think that if you are gay, then naturally you oppose the war — actually, any war. I have thought for a long time that the community gets involved with a lot of liberal stances which have nothing to do with being gay. If you aren’t a vocal liberal, you actually get run out. I have been run out. I live out in the straight world. Anyway, I can’t help but think that we get used by the liberals.

    I agree with this. But there are still times when we do come together. Yes, even those dreaded nasty Liberals. Read this article from the Advocate. Got me all vaklempt.

    http://www.advocate.com/exclusive_detail_ektid26124.asp

    Comment by Patrick (Gryph) — March 2, 2006 @ 11:41 am - March 2, 2006

  21. Dale, #12, i resent your allegation that removing “liberals” from the armed services would remove 75 percent of the gays who you think are likely anti-war, anti-gun and whiny anyway. It’s been my experience that gay members of the armed services are just as patriotic and just as committed to the mission as their straight counterparts. Maybe more so because of the burden of having to live a lie in order to serve their country.

    No sense of humor. Didn’t you see my winky sign? –> ; )

    Anyway, I can’t tell if you understood what I said, in jest of course. Roughly 75% of the gay population is liberal, and of course I don’t really think there should be ban on them. How would you even enforce that? But the point is, if there were such a ban, it would inadvertantly ban about 75% of the gay population, not for being gay but because they’re liberals.

    And I agree with you. The remaining 25%, the ones that voted for Bush, would tend to be good patriots and good soldiers. ; )

    Comment by Dale in L.A. — March 2, 2006 @ 11:57 am - March 2, 2006

  22. Hi There I found your blogg when doing a search for tritium in military watches, not what I was after but hello anyway 🙂

    Comment by H3 Watches — March 12, 2006 @ 12:28 pm - March 12, 2006

  23. YEah gays in the military shouldnt be a bad thing. I myself am not open to anybody, so i dont get percicuted, but i am in charge of a rifle team. And i myself am not sexualy attrcted to anybody in the military, because once i am in uniform its time to be a soldier and do my job. it shouldnt matter if you are gay or not it should matter on how u perform your duties of being a soldier and if someone cant relize gays arent in the military for sex because frankly a majority of people in the military are actualy quite ignorant. the engage in racist and gaybashing conversaitons

    Comment by SPC XXXXXXX — November 4, 2006 @ 2:47 am - November 4, 2006

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