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Eye Opener: How foreign militaries lifted gay bans

By Ed O'Keefe

Eye Opener

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.

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below

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By Ed O'Keefe  | February 23, 2010; 6:05 AM ET
Categories:  Eye Opener, Workplace Issues  
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Great blog post and a good summary of what's going on with DADT right now. My only question is Odierno's comment about gays being allowed to serve "as long as we are able to fight our wars." This sounds encouraging, but it may not indicate support of repeal for DADT because after all, gays are allowed to serve now, just not openly. The linked Post article doesn't provide context for those comments and I'd be curious to know if he's being evasive.

Posted by: yossarianlives07 | February 23, 2010 8:11 AM | Report abuse

On lifting the gay ban in the military, I don't see why it's taking so long anyway. I understand the intent many moon ago, but because homosexuals are openly considered a part of society in America today, there really shouldn't be an issue. They are everywhere and have always served in the military, just no one ever said anything. It was just like stay on your side kinda thing. They don't need seperate rules from heterosexuals, but their classification should be added to anti-harrassment and sexual harrassment policy rules, just like their recent addition to human rights legislation. The military pretty much takes care of its own stuff in-house, but this way they don't have to seek outside sources to resolve complaints. That way everybody is given equal consideration among the sexes. Heterosexuals don't have to be open about their displays, and neither should they. People aren't going to talk about it any more or less than they do now, because there are still people who aren't comfortable with them regardless of what homosexuals would like to consider to be ideal. But at least they'll actually have better protections and less fear of retribution, if necessary. Right now, you can't beat them up, but if they defend themselves they still get kicked out; and tying someones' hands like that is not right.

Posted by: lidiworks1 | February 23, 2010 10:04 AM | Report abuse

The issue shouldn't be sexual orientation, but sexual conduct. This applies to both hetero and homosexual orientation.

Posted by: entmathias | February 23, 2010 10:09 AM | Report abuse

The President should simply issue an executive order saying that it's over and Gates should implement starting now. Anything that is against the rules for heterosexuals -- harassment, rape, and relationships between officers and subordinates -- will still be against the rules. Done.

Posted by: fmjk | February 23, 2010 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Just because they repeal DADTDP, lots of gays & lesbians will continue to be closeted. There will be no "mass coming out". I don't see that as a problem, just the reality.

Yes, sexual conduct needs to be restricted between servicemen & servicewomen, anything that causes a breakdown in order and discipline , but without regard to orientation.

But I agree, do it now, do it right away. The worse line in the Brown vs Board of Ed was "with all deliberate speed", which could be and was taken either way.

Posted by: cyberfool | February 23, 2010 11:35 AM | Report abuse

I don’t understand, were is the bigoted statements, hysteria, claims of world shattering events? These comments seem to indicate reasonableness. Though I strongly support this, this will not happen. The Congress will change this year and the President will not move this forward and Democrats, though they move their mouths, will not support it openly and Republicans hate the gays (even if the public doesn’t). So nothing will happen. Gays will continue to get kicked out and DoD will continue to requesting funding for DADT and Congress will fund it. Period. End of Story

Posted by: mjcc1987 | February 23, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

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