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Military effectiveness preserved in nations which allow gay people to serve openly

As Congress prepares to debate repeal of Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell (DADT) today in Washington, our federal representatives should consider the experience of those nations which have allowed gay people to serve openly in their nation’s military.  In Politco yesterday, Maj. Peter Kees Hamstra of the Royal Dutch Army, Leif Ohlson of the Swedish Armed Forces and Lt. Com. Craig Jones, retired from the Royal Navy of Britain observe:

Moral opposition to homosexuality, while real, is just not allowed to undercut our militaries’ missions.

Nor do we think it will have any impact on yours after you repeal “Don’t ask, don’t tell.”

This is an important point because many Americans seem to believe that ending anti-gay discrimination in European and Israeli militaries faced no resistance because our cultures are more tolerant.

 In fact, our polls, rhetoric and even threats of mass resignations were quite similar to the continuing resistance in America. Yet none of the doomsday scenarios came true.

 According to research and assessments of our transitions, the new policies had no negative impact on military readiness.

Once again, the experience from nations which have allowed gay people to serve openly in the military shows that such service does not compromise military readiness or unit cohesion.

The plan before Congress appears to be a good compromise, repealing the Clinton-era legislation which prevents gays people from serving openly while giving the Administration the authority to work with the military to allow for a smooth implementation of the new policy.

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7 Comments

  1. This is an important point because many Americans seem to believe that ending anti-gay discrimination in European and Israeli militaries faced no resistance because our cultures are more tolerant.

    Because our cultures are more tolerant is a phrase from the bowels of Doublespeak. Tolerance is a namby pamby term that makes the speaker feel better about himself and at the same time says nothing. The Tolerance Meter works this way: if you are below the tolerance needle, you are in the bigot to curmudgeon range and if you are above the tolerance needle you are in the enlightened to truly liberated range.

    Forget that tolerating death camps and genital mutilation and Sharia and slavery are not on the scale. Did I say Sharia? We had best scratch that one. The Danes and the Dutch and the Israelis have had such good luck with Sharia.

    To the point of the post. “Tolerating” gays in the military and regulating the sexual activities of straights, gays, transgenders, and unknowns in the military would seem to be mutually exclusive concepts.

    Obviously, the first step is to permit open gays to serve openly in the military. That is only the beginning of the story. DA/DT “permits” gays in the military so long as they keep their business to themselves. Dropping DA/DT and saying our cultures are more tolerant clearly implies that accommodations for gay sexual desires will have to be made. That is a subject I have never seen discussed “openly.” In fact, I would say that the subject is not tolerated and kept in the closet.

    Comment by heliotrope — May 27, 2010 @ 8:43 am - May 27, 2010

  2. I personally do not have a problem with the repeal but I’m not in the military, I’m in the private sector. I’ve always been one who feels we have to allow the commanders to tell us what is best for the military and so I’ve been fine with the military having the DADT policy if they felt it was best.

    However, I’ve never quite figured out how someone’s sexual status impacts a solider in battle. These folks live and train together so I can’t believe that if you are that close to each other day-in and day-out how you don’t develop a deep respect for that person who is next to you. Consequently, in today’s world, if the guy next to me is gay, does that really come into play when we are under fire and we are relying on each other to survive?

    Again, I’m not in the military so if someone who is can explain how it impacts the military then I’m willing to listen. Doesn’t mean it will change my mind but I’m open to listening.

    Comment by NebraskaPatriot — May 27, 2010 @ 9:54 am - May 27, 2010

  3. [...] (h/t GayPatriot) [...]

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  4. NebraskaPatriot,

    The enlisted soldier is normally just out of high school with hormones raging. My daughter joined the Army as a specialized troop. She played the clarinet in Pershing’s Own band. She went for training at the Navy School of Music in Virginia Beach where all the military (save Air Force) musicians trained. She was in basic training in Alabama where a drill sergeant was busted for sneaking videos in the women’s showers. She was continually “hit” on at the School of Music. Her aggressors were both male and female. When she went to her assignment, she found and married a fellow musician in the same way kids pair off in college. The School of Music (SOM) was commonly known as the “school of matrimony” and the IG was busy full time trying to separate hurt feelings from raging hormones from real military infractions and abuse.

    My son-in-law finished a Navy career that began at Annapolis and finished with a flag rank at the Pentagon. All along the way, he had to deal with knuckleheads who created endless problems by thinking with their crotches. His duty station in Japan was particularly full of ghastly cultural problems because young native girls and boys used their sexual attraction as a lure to life on the base as a ticket to America.

    Sex, age and hormones are a military problem throughout history and the world. Why did the Japanese enslave young Chinese for “comfort women?” Why did Nazi concentration camps have stalls of young Jews to be sex fodder for the troops?

    To be openly gay in the military adds the dimension of open gay sex to be monitored and adjudged according to the rules of fraternization, discrimination, etc.

    Your second paragraph is fairly benign. I suggest you take a hard think about an aircraft carrier out for six months and loaded with juvenile sexual appetites.

    In past comments, people have mentioned the idea that gays will “learn” the rules from the group. That is code for brute force deciding the culture. If I were a gay who was keeping myself well guarded and someone claimed I was problem, I might well involve an officer in the mix on the grounds that I was being singled out by someone who does not like gays. In my opinion, that would be the correct course to take.

    The point is, the culture of the military will shift with openly gay soldiers. Those shifts need to be openly examined and discussed. There will be an additional burden placed on the officers as they try to sort out the social and cultural problems that arise.

    Is there some compelling military readiness reason to take this on?

    Comment by heliotrope — May 27, 2010 @ 12:06 pm - May 27, 2010

  5. I personally have mixed feelings about DADT. I won’t be sad if it goes, but won’t be sad if it stays. On one hand, I would prefer to see gays and lesbians serve openly, and feel that their off-duty preferences should not play a role. On the other, openly gay troops could cause problems through both homophobia and sexual harassment.

    I actually feel that DADT repeal will actually change very little. No, I don’t think that openly gay soldiers are going to cause the military to collapse, but I also don’t think many more gays will actually sign up if the policy is repealed.

    Comment by NYAlly — May 27, 2010 @ 12:17 pm - May 27, 2010

  6. [...] (h/t GayPatriot) [...]

    Pingback by Military Allies to US on DADT Repeal: Really, It’ll Be Fine — May 27, 2010 @ 12:30 pm - May 27, 2010

  7. “I suggest you take a hard think about an aircraft carrier out for six months and loaded with juvenile sexual appetites.”

    Any pun intended there with the use of the word “hard”?

    The issue isn’t whether the appetite is hetero or homo, the issue is whether the individual is capable of discipline. While it’s understandable there is an additional temptation factor for gay men in the military, a successful level of restraint is something we are certainly capable of.

    I guess what has suaded my perspective on this issue is I personally know many gay men who have served honorably in the military. One is a Captain in the Naval Reserve. I know from personal relationships that it can and has been done.

    In addition I think there is a compelling military readiness issue to take this on. Weeding people out of the military based on sexual orientation and not capability reduces our talent and performance resources.

    A decorated Air Force Pilot with an exemplary service record, third generation military within his family of origin and an alumn. from my University had his career destroyed two years ago by DADT, along with our taxpayer investment in the millions it cost to train him. The training expense loss combined with the absence of his leadership today effects a weakened defense.

    If you’re gonna’ deny fellow Americans freedoms in this country, you better have FACTS, and not assumptions, that back up your reasons for the restrictions.

    Comment by patrick — May 27, 2010 @ 11:10 pm - May 27, 2010

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