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An About-Face on Gay Troops

An excellent op-ed in today’s New York Times by Owen West, a Marine and veteran of the Iraq War. Some highlights:

  • “[T]his fight is not about rights, but about combat readiness”.
  • “[T]he principal architects of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ former Gen. Colin Powell and former Senator Sam Nunn” appear to favor repeal of the ban.
  • The argument that excluding openly-serving homosexuals is necessary because they present a “threat to good order and discipline” is “flawed” and based on the same “underlying fears…as with [racial] integration”.
  • “Maintaining ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ ignores a vast social shift since 1993”. An overwhelming majority of the public now supports lifting the ban, which wasn’t the case 16 years ago.
  • DADT impacts military readiness: “to choose a felon over a combat-proven veteran on the basis of sexuality is defeatist”.

    Will President Obama and activists listen, or repeat the mistakes of the early 90s? Only time will tell for sure, but I’m not very encouraged from what I’ve seen thus far.


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    1. John, the OpEd author’s work with “Vets for Freedom” and his advocacy in allowing gays to serve openly in the military misses a fundamental issue –aside from his attempt to build a parallel between Truman’s integration of the Army with a repeal of DADTDHDP.

      The fundamental issue, taken in his own words in the OpEd, is “In the end, however, there is one factor that outweighs public opinion, troop morale and recruiting combined. The military is a dictatorship, not a republic. It is built to win in combat. Its strict codes of conduct ensure good order and discipline.”

      The military shouldn’t be about social engineering or political correctness. It’s why the decision to allow women to serve, women to gain entry to the military academies, et al was a mistake. We can’t put that genie back in her bottle; let’s not make another mistake in the mistaken impulse to properly engineer the military.

      I hope the accomodation made by DADT won’t be dismissed because “Hope and Change” are today’s currency of the realm. After watching the military suffer under JimmineyCricket and SlickWilly, I don’t know why anyone would listen to what the Democrats have to say about the military, natl security or responsible defense of American interests.

      Mr Owen does a great job, though, in his advocacy and I can appreciate why Rudy used him during his own campaign.

      Comment by Michigan-Matt — February 9, 2009 @ 8:40 pm - February 9, 2009

    2. Call me a homophobe. Sticks and stones may break my bones, but queers should be cops and women should not be combatants.

      That’s just the way I feel ladies.

      Comment by winemkr — February 9, 2009 @ 10:54 pm - February 9, 2009

    3. Matt, we’ve had women in the military since the get go. They’ve “officially” been able to serve since 1943 – as WACS, WAACS and WAVES till ’78, then USA/USN/USAF since then. And there have been some damn fine ladies in uniform. It wasn’t the decision to let women into combat roles that was the problem; the problem was the manner in which that decision was carried out. Standards were lowered to allow more women to meet eligibility requirements and gender was used as a criteria for promotion and assignments. Fraternization regulations were ignored, and often ridiculed. And feminist organizations did women a vast disservice by demanding a level of women in combat positions that exceeded the number of qualified women the services had to fill them. The end result was a mess. Not because the idea was flawed, but because the execution was flawed.

      Quite frankly, sexuality is quickly becoming something a lot fewer people care about. One of the guys I went to school with spent his boyfriend’s entire stay at Water Reed with him (his bf was wounded in the opening conquest of Iraq). Everybody at Walter Reed knew; nobody gave a damn. As West points out, we’ve come a long way in sixteen years, and there are plenty of gay guys and gals who’ve shown they’re good soldiers.

      The question that will define whether open service will work is this: will homosexual soldiers be held to the exact same standards as heterosexual ones, or not? The counterpart question is whether we will be treated to the spectacle of HRC, Lambda Legal, or SLDN screaming “homophobia!” every time a gay guy doesn’t get promoted, or he gets the book tossed at him when found having sex with a superior or subordinate?

      If the answer to the latter question is yes, then open service will not work.

      Comment by Rob — February 10, 2009 @ 12:36 am - February 10, 2009

    4. This so infuriates me. Gays have and do serve in the military. I served in Vietnam; my late partner served three tours of duty as a Marine gunny sarg, and went to his grave with some very severe shrapnel wounds (three Purple Hearts) and agent orange health complications. I still have the letters he received from three different Presidents thanking him for his service. We have served in every war, we are serving now, and we will serve in the future.

      When we served, it was not in secret. My commanding officer and everyone I served with knew I was gay. They didn’t give a damn; they needed me too much. Let’s stop this damn foolishness.

      Comment by John in Dublin, Ca — February 10, 2009 @ 12:58 am - February 10, 2009

    5. You guys have to do something about this filter; it seems any mild expletive is enought to gt you bounced.

      So, let me repeat myself. I am furious about this. I served in Vietnam, as did my late partner. He did three tours of duty as a Marine gunny sarg and went to his grave with severe shrapnel wounds (three Purple hearts, every one earned) and agent orange complications. I still have letters he received from three different Presidents thanking him for his service. When I was on active duty my commanding officer and everyone I served with knew I was gay; no one cared, they needed me too much.

      We have served in the past, we serve currently, and we will serve in the future. Lets stop the foolishness already.

      Comment by John in Dublin, Ca — February 10, 2009 @ 1:07 am - February 10, 2009

    6. The question that will define whether open service will work is this: will homosexual soldiers be held to the exact same standards as heterosexual ones, or not? The counterpart question is whether we will be treated to the spectacle of HRC, Lambda Legal, or SLDN screaming “homophobia!” every time a gay guy doesn’t get promoted, or he gets the book tossed at him when found having sex with a superior or subordinate?

      That is a concern of mine. I sometimes wonder if it will take a Dem to repeal the ban but a Repub to make it really work. I don’t see a Republican lifting the ban anytime soon or a Democrat resisting the urge for PC nonsense. Just another sign of the fringe on both sides driving the agendas of their respective parties I guess…

      Comment by John — February 10, 2009 @ 8:15 am - February 10, 2009

    7. Rob, I appreciate your opinion. I am resigned to the notion that DADT is likely to be repealed; frankly, I’ve gone back and forth in my own mind on the issue over the last 6-7 yrs. I share your concern about what happens to the military if gays in service follow the victimization track that gays in general in society have followed, lo these many years.

      I’m not saguine of the outcome.

      Comment by Michigan-Matt — February 10, 2009 @ 9:48 am - February 10, 2009

    8. I appreciate the opinions expressed here as well. One the one hand, my 69-year-old Dad served in the Navy as a fighter pilot for 22 years and despite the fact that he thinks my partner and I hung the moon, he doesn’t think gays should be allowed to serve openly in the military and I respect that. On the other hand, living in San Diego, I know a lot of gay soldiers and the circumstances are the same across the board: all of the other soldiers know they are gay, and don’t care. In fact, their brothers-in-arms are more concerned with protecting their secret so that good soldiers are not drummed out of the service. At the end of the day, it is the MILITARY that should decide whether lifting the ban/repealing DADT will affect combat readiness and troop morale. NOT the idiotic social engineers at the HRC, Lambda Legal, etc.

      Comment by Sean A — February 10, 2009 @ 10:28 am - February 10, 2009

    9. #2 – “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but queers should be cops and women should not be combatants.”

      Wait till Julie the Jarhead gets a load of your comment, guy. It won’t be a pretty sight.

      PS – I have no problems myself with an all-woman or all-gay platoon; in fact, it would probably be one of the best darn fighting units around.

      Peter H.

      Comment by Peter Hughes — February 10, 2009 @ 10:47 am - February 10, 2009

    10. Peter. Thebian Speckled Band?

      I still think it will be a Republican President who will end DADT and allow for open integration.

      Then again, I thought we’d elect a Repbulican black president, first, since we’d look at the content of his character more than the colour of his skin.

      Comment by The Livewire — February 10, 2009 @ 12:35 pm - February 10, 2009

    11. Grrrr

      Thebian Speckled Band.

      Comment by The Livewire — February 10, 2009 @ 12:36 pm - February 10, 2009

    12. T-h-e-b-i-a-n speckled band.

      You’ve got to be kidding me.

      Comment by The Livewire — February 10, 2009 @ 12:37 pm - February 10, 2009

    13. Peter, our pal winemkr is lucky today. I’m in a good mood.

      But that can change. 😮

      My prediction: DADT will not be repealed in the next four years.

      And please, please, please point me in the direction of that all-women platoon.

      Comment by Julie the Jarhead — February 10, 2009 @ 1:02 pm - February 10, 2009

    14. The America military has had gay members since at-least the American Revolution and the militia-era. One of Washington’s most respected general was Gen. Baron von Steuben, who not-only provided the backbone combat-training for the Continental Army, but also wrote it’s Field Manual and established it’s Manual-at-Arms combat doctrine. Both were used for many deacades and through the War of 1812. He also served as Inspector General for both the Continental Army and it’s federal sucessor, the United States Army.

      It apparently was no secret, he arrived with a young “aide” at Valley Forge. And his property and military-grants of land and money were inherited by two younger officers who remained with him for several decades afterwards. The few cases of proscecution of “sodomy” at that time in the military typically involved breaches of military discipline and improper fraternization between ranks, not the sex itself. This was a protection of the younger men of lesser-rank from explotation…not the sex itself…since to refuse a sexual advance was to refuse a (lawful) order; hence, mutiny and punishable by death.

      While it might rile the German-Americans, von Steuben Day would be the ideal date to suspend or roll-back DADT.

      Comment by Ted B (Charging Rhino) — February 10, 2009 @ 3:11 pm - February 10, 2009

    15. #11 – I hear ya, Jules. Point ME in the direction of the all-gay platoons! (Hey, didn’t Kristen Bjorn make a video about that recently?) 😉

      #12 – Don’t forget Hitler’s SA paramilitary organization. Chock full to the brim of gays it was. The SA leader, Ernst Rohm, was a big-time queen and both his antics and those of the SA in terms of unbridled homosexuality were enough of a concern to Hitler and SS leader Heinrich Himmler to have Rohm assassinated.

      Hmm…wonder why it is that fascist and commie regimes always try to bump us off? And why doesn’t a group like – oh, I don’t know – HRC try to point it out? (SARC)

      Peter H.

      Comment by Peter Hughes — February 10, 2009 @ 3:17 pm - February 10, 2009

    16. What blows my mind is that Obama promised to repeal DADT/lift the ban if he was elected and then after the election he immediately put the issue off until 2010. Then in the first 30 days he signed an order to close Gitmo, gave his first exclusive TV interview to some Good Morning Jihadists! propaganda outlet, repealed the restrictions on sending money to international organizations that promote abortion, sucked up to Iran (“unclench the fist”), appointed Holder to be Attorney General, and proceeded to start cramming the trillion dollar stealfromus package down our throats. But somehow, gays in the military is the political hot potato!? What it suggests to me is that gays are lower on Obama’s priority list than even I suspected (and I believed that they were written in tiny letters in the margin somewhere–about 20 or 30 spots lower than ensuring a successful analog to digital-only TV transition). I guess we’ll see what happens in 2010, but to all of those gay lefties that thought Obama was going to make right Clinton’s “betrayal” in 1993…what is the expression? “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice and yeah, I guess we are a bunch of easily manipulated partisan sheep that the Democratic Party can count on for money and votes even though they couldn’t give a rat’s ass about our agenda.” I’m paraphrasing, but I think that’s pretty close.

      Comment by Sean A — February 10, 2009 @ 6:26 pm - February 10, 2009

    17. Ted B,

      Stupid me, I forgot about von Steuben (double bad. I’ve a friend in Steubenville, and am a fan of David Drake’s Hammer’s Slammers)

      Comment by The Livewire — February 10, 2009 @ 8:44 pm - February 10, 2009

    18. Living in a military city, I have met a few service members who are gay. It seems to me that hearing them talk, they have no interest in campaigning for rights and just want to do their jobs. I would not understand why anyone who is openly gay and wants everyone to know would want to be involved in the military. Military service is all about honor and I would bet that the gay military members I know would leave the service before hurting it (Like all good soldiers, airmen, sailors and marines). I think that rescind the policy and allow the military to do what it needs to to maintain readiness.

      Comment by BCnSanDeeahgo — February 10, 2009 @ 11:33 pm - February 10, 2009

    19. Julie the Jarhead. You are a little late. During WW2 we not only had women patoons but we had women companies. And you should see them on the parade ground. Their marching put my company to shame.


      Comment by John W — February 11, 2009 @ 1:44 am - February 11, 2009

    20. JohnAGJ asks “will President Obama….listen….?” I think the president has already amply proven that he has no intention of listening to anyone so it is pointless to expect him to heed advice over something like DADT.

      Comment by Not Always Right — February 11, 2009 @ 2:00 am - February 11, 2009

    21. #17 – Sounds like something that needs to be brought back in this era. Like I said, I wouldn’t mind seeing that. And before any screaming liberal queen (hello, ADD) start the “discrimination” chant, try to see things rationally: unit cohesiveness, a shared sense of duty and an environment free of outside distractions.

      Besides, you know what happens to women who live together after a while…they start their cycles at the same time. Woe be unto the Islamic jihadist who tries to attack a female platoon during PMS.

      (Actually, I’d love to see that type of a$$-whuppin. Personally, I think Lynnie England didn’t go far enough.) 😉

      Screaming liberal queen alert in 3…2…1…

      Peter H.

      Comment by Peter Hughes — February 11, 2009 @ 11:11 am - February 11, 2009

    22. Had gays been able to serve freely and openly when I was 18, I might have joined for the sweat, the muscle, the guns, and the all-night orgies. And that’s precisely why I support DADT.

      Comment by Ignatius — February 11, 2009 @ 12:18 pm - February 11, 2009

    23. #20 – This is an attempt at humor, right?

      “All-night orgies?” In the barracks?

      Iggy, I think you are confusing a Falcon video with real life.

      Peter H.

      Comment by Peter Hughes — February 11, 2009 @ 3:57 pm - February 11, 2009

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