Eye Opener: How foreign militaries lifted gay bans
Happy Tuesday! As the U.S. military begins a major review of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy banning gay people from openly serving in the military, leaders may want to consult an updated study set for release today that reviews how 25 nations lifted similar bans with relative success.
The Palm Center at the University of California Santa Barbara conducted the extensive review of foreign militaries, including Australia, Canada, Great Britain and Israel -- widely considered major fighting forces by military experts. In each case, the countries successfully lifted any ban in a relative short period of time after vigorous debate and concern for mass resignations by other service members.
As The Eye reported on Monday, civilian and uniformed leadership of the Army and Air Force kick off a week of budget hearings today during which lawmakers are expected to seek their personal opinions on a potential repeal of "don't ask, don't tell." A few members of the military's top brass have already stated a preference for comprehensive studies and feedback similar to the Palm Center report.
Gen. Ray Odierno lent his voice to the debate on Monday by stating that he thinks everyone -- gay and straight -- should be allowed to serve in the military "as long as we are still able to fight our wars." His comments make him the first senior military leader leading in troops in battle to weigh in on a possible repeal.
"No consulted expert anywhere in the world concluded that lifting the ban on openly gay service caused an overall decline in the military," the study concluded. Researchers also found that the 25 nations implemented repeals of a gay ban within four months.
"Swift, decisive implementation signals the support of top leadership and confidence that the process will go smoothly, while a 'phased-in' implementation can create anxiety, confusion, and obstructionism," the study said. That conclusion runs counter to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates' stated preference for up to a year to implement a repeal of "don't ask, don't tell."
And lest you think, "Who cares what other militaries do?", the study said the Pentagon has a long history of studying the experiences of other armed forces. The Pentagon's Foreign Military Studies Office has conducted research on personnel matters, healthy policy, housing, technology, counterterrorism operations and other matters, according to the report.
Some other interesting conclusions:
• The study also found that none of the 25 countries established separate living facilities for gay troops or established rules that treat them differently than heterosexuals.
• Lifting gay bans did not result in a mass “coming out.” Gay and lesbian troops serve at all levels of the armed forces of Britain, Canada, Australia, South Africa, and Israel in combat and non-combat roles as enlisted members and commanders.
• There were no instances of increased harassment of or by gay people as a result of lifting bans in any of the countries studied.
Read the full study here.
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| February 23, 2010; 6:05 AM ET
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