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The inevitable backlash on 'don't ask, don't tell'

Boy, you had to see that one coming. It was a pivotal moment earlier this month when Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mike Mullen and Defense Secretary Robert Gates backed repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Pivotal, but not enough. I don’t spend a lot of time chatting up generals. But I’ve spent enough to know that, just below the top-most ranks, there remains an enormous, if incomprehensible, amount of squeamishness about letting gay men and women serve openly in the military.

So it was disappointing but not surprising to see the chiefs of the Army and Air Force on Tuesday urging Congress to go slow on any change.“I do have serious concerns about the impact of repeal of the law on a force that is fully engaged in two wars and has been at war for eight and a half years,” Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the army chief of staff, told the Senate Armed Services Committee. “We just don’t know the impacts on readiness and military effectiveness…” Testifying before the House Armed Services Committee, Casey’s air force counterpart, Gen. Norton Schwartz, expressed his “strong conviction” that “this is not the time to perturb the force that is, at the moment, stretched by demands in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere without careful deliberation.”

Perturb the force? Of course, the same arguments could have been -- in fact, they were -- made when the military was integrated. It is particularly infuriating that the generals would invoke the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as excuses for not lifting the ban. If anything, don’t ask, don’t tell has been an impediment to the military during these operations. In an era of stop-loss recalls because forces have been stretched so thin, thousands of service members have been discharged because of their sexuality. According to some estimates, about 13,500 personnel have been kicked out since the policy was implemented during the Clinton administration. Nearly 800 of them had "critical skills." More than 60 were Arab speakers. As former joint chiefs of staff chairman John Shalikashvili wrote in a 2007 New York Times op-ed, “Our military has been stretched thin by our deployments in the Middle East, and we must welcome the service of any American who is willing and able to do the job.”

Do Casey and Schwartz really have so little faith in their troops that they think serving with people they probably already know are gay will impede their performance? Do they think U.S. personnel are less capable of adapting to this change than those in the 25 countries cited by the University of California's Palm Center -- including Britain, France, Canada, Germany, Israel, Argentina, Australia and South Africa -- that allow gays to serve openly?

Update, 1:30 p.m.: An earlier version of this post inaccurately cited a Government Accountability Office report as the source for the estimates on how many personnel have been kicked out of the military due to its don't ask don't tell policy. It also misidentified the countries that allow gays and lesbians to serve in their armed forces. The text above has been altered to remove these errors.

In the military, as elsewhere, this is, thankfully, a generational issue. Casey is 61, Schwartz just a few years younger. Younger officers, I suspect, are not much different from younger people outside the military: more comfortable with gay colleagues and friends. In the meantime, though, President Obama and congressional supporters of repealing don’t ask don’t tell can’t let the generals intimidate them out of lifting the ban, or at the very least putting a moratorium on its enforcement. This tactic worked 17 years ago. It’s even less convincing today.

By Ruth Marcus  | February 24, 2010; 10:42 AM ET
Categories:  Marcus  | Tags:  Ruth Marcus  
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Comments

It's time the services come into the 21st century, other than just technology. It's time has come.

Posted by: jckdoors | February 24, 2010 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Better listen to the generals advice, whatever it turns out to be. I don't personally care either way on gays in the military, but I think that it's important that non-military values are not imposed upon the services by external forces without giving due consideration to troop morale.

Posted by: ZZim | February 24, 2010 10:57 AM | Report abuse

The military is antiquated, still buying and trying to use Cold War technology to fight a world war 2 style battle, using 17th century beliefs in honor, 11th century tactics in interrogation, against a 21st century enemy.

Posted by: alex35332 | February 24, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Zzim, I'm sure integrating the armed forces was bad for some troops' morale, but you know what Harry Truman no doubt thought? TS

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | February 24, 2010 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Personally, I don't grasp why any sane gay man lesbian would want to serve in the US military. In fact I wish every one of them would up and TELL today, thus ensuring the end of the wars we are losing in Iraq and Afghanistan. Once we remove the best and the brightest no other outcome is plausible. Let these generals bend over and take the loss like the real men we know they are. Ha!

Posted by: dem4life1 | February 24, 2010 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Better listen to the generals advice, whatever it turns out to be. I don't personally care either way on gays in the military, but I think that it's important that non-military values are not imposed upon the services by external forces without giving due consideration to troop morale.

Posted by: ZZim | February 24, 2010 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Zzim, I'm sure integrating the armed forces was bad for some troops' morale, but you know what Harry Truman no doubt thought? TS

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | February 24, 2010 11:02 AM | Report abuse
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

Kool, gays-in-the-military is not a civil rights issue. Nor is gay marriage.

By attempting to equate the two, you defame and devalue real civil rights issues.

Posted by: ZZim | February 24, 2010 11:11 AM | Report abuse

They are going to allow women to work in the submarine, which was a no..no. Until now it was an under-water boys' club. Where is the guarentee that the heterosexual sailers won't misbehave.

Posted by: sarvenk63 | February 24, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

IT is laughable to hear the generals say there is not enough information on the subject. 25 countries allows gays in the military, including Canada, Australia, Isreal, Brits, French and have effective, professional militaries. If they said there was "no information" to any other command issue in the military when so much of it was obviously available, they would be considered deralict in their duties. Integrate, save the US skilled labor, support American values and rid bigotry.

Posted by: cadam72 | February 24, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Ah yes the opinions above of those who are NOT in the US Military and never will be - and thus can sleep with, and associate at work and socially, with whomever they care to and care NOT to, and never will be, forced to live, sleep, dress, shower, share foxholes and cramped for months and years deployed closer than their own families, with others than their own sex (yeah, women ARE segregated in such things even in the military which is NOT a Unisex force.)

Don't ask the Generals - (you didn't mention the Marine Commandant who ALSO objects to dropping DADT) about what it takes to create and maintain a hard core 'band of brothers'. Ask the Mid and Senior Grade NCO's what they think - they are the ones who have to keep order and discipline in the ranks, break up fights, get MEN to work together.

So long as, under DADT, gays kept their mouths shut, didn't openly solicit sex while on duty, and did their jobs, they were tolerated. Until they blabbed.

Eliminate DADT, and their NCO jobs will be harder, much harder. And the US Military is NOT there to be the Social Engineering agency of the US. It is there to win wars, face death, and trust the man next them.

I have already all my grandchildren and will advise all my great grandchildren NOT to Volunteer for military service.

Let all the Gays and Lesbians defend this nation for a change.

Posted by: dave19 | February 24, 2010 11:31 AM | Report abuse

ZZ suffers from a serious case of selective right syndrome. Guess only some folks are worthy....what a pathetic but all to common 18th century attitude.

Posted by: dem4life1 | February 24, 2010 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Could I please remind you that those Generals that you were talking about do not decide when and where to go to war. That is the President and Congress. Therefore, if you want to blame anybody for still being in the Middle East you need to look to Washington and not to the people who are risking their lives by following their orders everyday.

Posted by: blc502 | February 24, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Can someone --- I keep asking this question but no one answers --- please explain what "serving openly" means? I don't mean you are free to tell your roommate that you think his wardrobe is cute and fashionable. I mean what does it actually mean in the day to day life of soldiers, sailors, airmen, etc? Someone take a shot.

Posted by: Curmudgeon10 | February 24, 2010 11:35 AM | Report abuse

I guess firing thousands of gay men and women, many of whom were Arabic and/or Farsi specialists increases military morale and effectiveness? What a bunch of bull. Those who are in combat already know who's gay and who isn't among them, and the last time I checked no soldier is about to launch into a rendition of "It's Raining Men" while stomping out the Taliban in Marjah. Actually, no gay man would do any such thing in any profession, but leave it to the Generals to presume that gay men and women in the Armed Forces are somehow so alien to the military ethos that their not having to lie about their sexual orientation would somehow jeopardize the military.

Posted by: jaysit | February 24, 2010 11:36 AM | Report abuse

The general's opinions are based upon their life experience, which is influenced not only by their service, but the era when they were born, their families, their peers, and their religion. Sometimes they forget that younger people tend to be more tolerant and flexible than they are, simply because the their charges were born 3 decades years later.

Posted by: maus92 | February 24, 2010 11:40 AM | Report abuse

"I have already all my grandchildren and will advise all my great grandchildren NOT to Volunteer for military service."

That's how little military service to your country means to you?

That if they may have to serve with an openly gay person then you'd rather your offspring not serve at all?

Talk about your lack of patriotism...

And like it or not gays have been protecting us as long as anyone can remember. From General von Steubing rescuing George Washington's poorly trained army in the Revolutionary War, to Alan Turing breaking the enigma code in WWII and most likely turning the entire tide of the war to the Allies.

Yep. If it weren't for gays serving in militaries you'd either be a British subject or be a Nazi subject today.

How's that selective patriotism feeling now?

Posted by: Hillman1 | February 24, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse

How long will it take homosexuals to scream "hate crime" the first time a military man or woman makes fun of them or rebukes their advances? Will we be kicking out the straight folks then? We should not do social experimenting with the military.

Posted by: Christian1941 | February 24, 2010 11:45 AM | Report abuse

I have already all my grandchildren and will advise all my great grandchildren NOT to Volunteer for military service.

Let all the Gays and Lesbians defend this nation for a change.
_________________________________________

Exactly. And we can start by not throwing those who ARE gay and lesbian AND already serving out of the military. You know, those who are defending our nation, and who actually want to serve, with due respect to you and your progeny who aren't serving. And with no respect to your obnoxious presumption that gays are soliciting for sex in the armed forces.

As for you and your progeny, if they're even 1% as irrational, contradictory and bigoted as you, then we, the US taxpayers, are better off without them in the military. In any case, people like you have come and gone. There were plenty of bigots back in the 1940s who threatened to walk out of the military if it was racially integrated. If some of them did, then all the better.

Posted by: jaysit | February 24, 2010 11:45 AM | Report abuse

posted by dave19:

Eliminate DADT, and their NCO jobs will be harder, much harder. And the US Military is NOT there to be the Social Engineering agency of the US. It is there to win wars, face death, and trust the man next them.

-------------------------------------

Apparently he thinks very little of the professionals in the military. Dude, people are being fired because someone found out that they were gay. Not because they "solicited sex" or any such nonsense. Anyone gay or straight who is willing to put their life on the line for their country should be able to serve.

Posted by: jake14 | February 24, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: Christian1941:

How long will it take homosexuals to scream "hate crime" the first time a military man or woman makes fun of them or rebukes their advances? Will we be kicking out the straight folks then? We should not do social experimenting with the military.
_________________________________________

We already throw ANYONE - gay or straight- who makes sexual advances to ANYONE while serving. What planet do you live on? And we reprimand those who make racist, sexist, or otherwise insulting comments against others. Why should those who indulge their homophobia by berating, insulting or physically assaulting gay men or women be off the hook?

And quit the sexual demagoguery. The real sexual problem in the military is sexual harassment by straight men against women. If the military can deal with that problem, they can deal with any stray occurrence involving a gay man or woman.

Posted by: jaysit | February 24, 2010 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Ruth Says: "But I’ve spent enough to know that, just below the top-most ranks, there remains an enormous, if incomprehensible, amount of squeamishness about letting gay men and women serve openly in the military."

Clearly, Ms. Marcus (and a lot of the other posters here) do not understand the dynamics of male bonding in combat.

Combat is not a "job." Only those who have experienced combat understand the deep but platonic love between comrades in arms. It's the "Band of Brothers" thing.

Right now, US Marines might be "spooning" in a foxhole somewhere in Afghanistan to keep warm. Right now, some Marine might be hugging his dying friend and crying his eyes out. Right now, some Marine officer might be making the decision as to who he puts "on point" to go up a mine-strewn road.

To inject sexuality into this kind of environment is catastrophic for unit morale.

(The same goes DOUBLE for women in combat!)

Posted by: pmendez | February 24, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Virtually every ligitimate reason to not allow gays in th emilitary was done away with when women were let in. The BIG issue has always been will your girl friend or boy friend cause a soldier to sacrifice his mission to protect them. Will they be having sex in the fox hole or on the ship? Will someone get jealous that their boy friend or girl friend spent the night in the fox hole with someone else. These issues are real and it doesn't matter if it is a gay or straight couple.

Posted by: chucky-el | February 24, 2010 12:13 PM | Report abuse

My father told me that there were gays in the military in WW2. My uncles told me that there were gays in the military in the Korean Conflict. I know there were gays in Vietnam. Therefore, the simple truth is that there have always been gays in the modern military. Anyone who disagrees with this analysis is simply just wrong. Therefore, the issue is not whether or not to allow gays to serve, but the issue is creating rules of conduct. This is what the discussion should be about.

Posted by: jeffreed | February 24, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Dem4Life1 says: "Personally, I don't grasp why any sane gay man lesbian would want to serve in the US military."

For the same reason they want to go into the priesthood, when the Catholic Church has specifically and repeatedly taught that homosexual behavior is a sin.

To change the institution to fit their agenda.

Posted by: pmendez | February 24, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

My grandfather served in WWII and he and everyone else in his unit knew who was a "poof" and who wasn't. As he said, repeatedly, "They could shoot just as straight, throw a grenade, dig a ditch, bleed and die just as well as the rest of us. And they did."

The man earned three bronze stars and two purple hearts and at 95, he has stated that DADT is stupid. If he didn't have an issue serving with gay men THEN, what's so different now? I just can't believe that anyone in the armed services is more frightened of a gay or lesbian man in their unit than they are of the enemy.

Posted by: Skowronek | February 24, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Casey and Schwartz are bigots blinded by their prejudices. Israel, Canada, the U.K., Australia, The Netherlands, all have gays serving openly in their military. With absolutely no problems.

Posted by: Gatsby10 | February 24, 2010 12:44 PM | Report abuse

@jeffreed:
>>Therefore, the issue is not whether or not to allow gays to serve, but the issue is creating rules of conduct.

I quite agree with the front of this statement, for the reason you cited. I'm confused about the second part, though: aren't there already rules of conduct (re fraternization, harrassment, etc.)? Why wouldn't we--as Americans--just "apply the same rules to everyone"?

Posted by: redlineblue | February 24, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

For those of you who were offended by dave19, please don't believe that he speaks for anyone else in the military. I serve, and I've encountered quite a few sailors who are near-as-makes-no-matter openly gay, and it makes no difference. They're absolute professionals who don't "openly solicit sex while on duty" any more than a straight sailor. Anyone who worries about a "breakdown in morale" if DADT is repealed is just being wilfully homophobic.

As for pmendez - What an absurd, sexist screed. I went through SERE school in January, where men and women survived a thoroughly hellish week in each other's company (I understand that it's not the same as months in the field, but this is just one example), and yes, we all spooned together to keep warm and came out of the course stronger than we started - with no sexulality injected. Stop projecting your insecurities on others; as I've already said, the men and women in the military are, first and foremost, professionals. If you'd served, you'd know that.

Posted by: greyhound1 | February 24, 2010 12:58 PM | Report abuse

" quite agree with the front of this statement, for the reason you cited. I'm confused about the second part, though: aren't there already rules of conduct (re fraternization, harrassment, etc.)? Why wouldn't we--as Americans--just "apply the same rules to everyone"?"

That would be sensible, straightforward and fair. We'll see!

Posted by: Skowronek | February 24, 2010 12:59 PM | Report abuse

"To inject sexuality into this kind of environment is catastrophic for unit morale."

Nonsense. Our military men and women face FAR worse than serving with an openly gay soldier.

If they really are so weak and poorly trained that they can't handle gays in the ranks (subject to the same rules about inappropriate fraternization that already exist for straights), then I'd venture to say that we are in no shape to be fighting terrorists, who tend to want to do a lot more than maybe sneak a peak at someone's butt in the shower.

And let me speak from experience here. My partner was military. In very close quarters, on submarines and other vessels.

And I was civilian fire department. I showered daily with my coworkers.

Not once did I feel the urge to somehow jump them in the shower.

And not once did my partner feel the urge to hit on his coworkers inappropriately.

We respected our coworkers,just like they respected us.

I think it says something sad about posters that assume people can't control their sexuality.

A lot of that has to do with America's idiotic obsession with nudity. In countries where the human body isn't considered shameful they would laugh at the idea of anyone being aroused in a military shower situation.

So grow up, people.

Posted by: Hillman1 | February 24, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse

dave19: Soldiers have a job to do - orders to follow. If straight soldiers feel that they can't carry out those orders because the guy next to them is gay, it's very simple: They are weak and they don't belong in the military.

It might surprise you to learn that gays really do know a thing or two about what is and isn't appropriate behavior. Sometimes not knowing the difference gets you killed. The only reason why you think hordes of gay soldiers will start molesting straight soldiers is because you have this absurd image in your mind of men in the throes of uncontrollable sexual desire.

Or, are you afraid of it because this is how you think about women?

Get over yourself.

Curmudgeon10: "Can someone --- I keep asking this question but no one answers --- please explain what "serving openly" means? I don't mean you are free to tell your roommate that you think his wardrobe is cute and fashionable."

It just means you don't have to lie if someone asks about your wife/girlfriend, or if you had a nice date over the weekend with someone of your same gender.

I had a military friend once - everybody in his unit knew he was gay, and nobody had a problem with it. Nobody - not ONE of his fellow soldiers. He served in Iraq. There was no problem with unit cohesion.

The only people who have a problem with it are higher-ups who are afraid it will be harder to recruit neo-nazi skinheads as cannon fodder if the force is not openly homophobic.

Posted by: jamshark70 | February 24, 2010 1:03 PM | Report abuse

"Kool, gays-in-the-military is not a civil rights issue. Nor is gay marriage.

By attempting to equate the two, you defame and devalue real civil rights issues.

Posted by: ZZim | February 24, 2010 11:11 AM | Report abuse"

ZZim -- Gay marriage? You're the one trying to muddy the waters. Sorry, but the parallel is valid. The civilian government wants to make a change that a majority of those serving might not agree with.

BO should play the Truman card and say thanks but TS to the generals.

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | February 24, 2010 1:08 PM | Report abuse

"Dem4Life1 says: "Personally, I don't grasp why any sane gay man lesbian would want to serve in the US military."

For the same reason they want to go into the priesthood, when the Catholic Church has specifically and repeatedly taught that homosexual behavior is a sin.

To change the institution to fit their agenda.

Posted by: pmendez | February 24, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse"

Or maybe they just want to serve their country like everyone else, you slack-jawed drooler.

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | February 24, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

I agree it is a generational issue. I am 67 and a Vet and these Generals are of my generation. As someone posted, "BO should play the Truman card and say thanks but TS to the generals." If these officers do not think it's time then they need to retire. I have served with gay men and they do a fine job. There is no reason to not let them serve if they want to. DADT was wrong from the start. President Obama needs to order the military to stop discharging Gay and Lesbian members and Congress needs to change the law. NOW.

Posted by: hmrc1 | February 24, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

There is a difference between integrating blacks and others into the military versus integrating a sexual difference. It's easy to say that it won't be a social or psychological problem, but if you're willing to accept that there will be no sexual backlash (and I'm not defining what backlash there might be), then the military should be open to coed quarters and facilities, expecting no one to be bothered (and, as we know, there is a lot of co-habitating in college and in real life).

The bottom line should be "will this help the military win wars" or will there be some or considerable disruption in cohesiveness.

If the reasoning is "they just want to serve their country like everyone else", or that the military needs people, then we should be changing all enlistment criteria and accept that some people use drugs (but will enlist with the understanding that drugs are prohibited in the military), law violations (if they've completed their sentence), height and weight or education or marital status (if they can do the job). Because these people, too, just want to serve their country.

Posted by: Dungarees | February 24, 2010 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Bunch of whiners.

Virtually every other country in NATO serving with the US in Afghanistan and Iraq allowed gays in their military units DECADES ago.

It took the UK one day to implement it.

It too Canada two days to implement it.

Just give the order and do it.

And stop whining. It didn't make units less combat effective in any other NATO country, so this is a red herring.

Posted by: WillSeattle | February 24, 2010 1:27 PM | Report abuse

pmendez says: "Combat is not a "job." Only those who have experienced combat understand the deep but platonic love between comrades in arms. It's the 'Band of Brothers' thing.

"Right now, US Marines might be 'spooning' in a foxhole somewhere in Afghanistan to keep warm. Right now, some Marine might be hugging his dying friend and crying his eyes out. Right now, some Marine officer might be making the decision as to who he puts 'on point' to go up a mine-strewn road.

"To inject sexuality into this kind of environment is catastrophic for unit morale."

WRONG. The idea that, as a straight man, you cannot have exactly the same bond with a gay man is nothing but rank bigotry born of utter ignorance and immaturity. The exact same bonds are possible between straight and gay friends, family, teammates, etc. That's because in the real world the gay friend, family, or teammate is a real human being, with a personality, with whom you've shared conversations and experiences, and who you've grown to know and trust. It is YOU who are "injecting sexuality" into the equation. YOU are the one who is dehumanizing the hypothetical gay "brother" by refusing to contemplate him as anything but one-dimensional, subhuman creature that has dropped out of nowhere to lie in wait and rape you. You, sir, are nothing but a common bigot.

Posted by: uh_huhh | February 24, 2010 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Sometimes, I wonder what so many people who are nervous about their sons and daughters in close quarters with gay and lesbians say and do about COLLEGE. It's not the same, I realize, but parents (mostly) pay a pretty fair packet in order to send their kids to college and take their chances on being assigned a gay/lesbian roommate. Let's be realistic, there are a LOT less strictures, immediate repercussions and oversight in a college dorm for inappropriate sexual behaviour betwixt and between students (of any number of sexual leanings) than in the barracks.

Quelle horreur!

Or we could apply DADT in the other direction too. No one is permitted to speak about their sweeties, no matter if they're heterosexual or not. Maybe we could ban wedding rings too!

Sounds ridiculous, doesn't it?

Posted by: Skowronek | February 24, 2010 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Now you liberals are going to sent gays into the field with a bunch of Alpha males with guns, explosives and a talent for killing.

It doesn't take a genius to figure out what will happen next.

Posted by: rexreddy | February 24, 2010 1:45 PM | Report abuse

rexreddy wrote, "Now you liberals are going to sent gays into the field with a bunch of Alpha males with guns, explosives and a talent for killing."

They're already there, plus:

1) not everyone in the military is a type A personality
1a) not every type A person is incapable of self-control
1b) most people exhibit quite a bit of self-control, or else there would be a lot more bloodshed on the roads!

2) not everyone has a "talent" for killing, but if you're in the military, you are trained how and when to kill, as it is part of the JOB.

You know, like in the police force.

Posted by: Skowronek | February 24, 2010 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Thank you for being one of the few in the media to address 2 of the most compelling reasons for lifting the ban on gays to serve:

1) All of our Western allies allow gays to serve openly. Not one country has reported that it has had a negative effect on morale.

In fact, Turkey is the only other NATO member that does not not allow gays to serve openly.

The 'unit cohesion' allegation is a lie.

2) What are these 8-1/2 years of war that have been used as an excuse not to allow gays to serve? Have we declared war? Or is this an Orwellian, never-ending 'War on Terror?'

Additionally, as you pointed out, not allowing gays to serve has actually hurt our effort while we are in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The bottom line, only homophobia and ignorance are punishing gay Americans, at this time. The rest of the civilized world is laughing at us.

I have been blogging about DADT regularly. Especially, the ignorant way most media is covering it.

Thanks for actually haing an intelligent and informative article!

http://leliorisen.blogspot.com

Posted by: leliorisen | February 24, 2010 2:41 PM | Report abuse

The argument that repeal of DADT will affect unit cohesion is a red herring.

You train a group of individuals from different backgrounds and make them a unit. The whole point is to train them that whatever their personal feelings, the efficiency of the unit is paramount.

For example, a fundamentalist who believes one who hasn't been born again is going to hell spends his time proselytizing & harassing Jews or others won't last long without receiving a stern reprimand.

A man who has problems working with women of equal or superior rank and shows his disdain, won't last long.

A racist who shows his racism won't last long.

If a service member has problems working with a gay comrade and shows it, he won't last long because it is he who is disrupting unity.

So, the military already has a system in place for disruptions caused by different personalities and world view.

Posted by: dadada | February 24, 2010 2:44 PM | Report abuse

It's nice of all the gays in DC to write in and express their opinion, trying to make this look like "America's opinion." Let me just ask you all one question: Do you think that male and female barracks should be integrated? Because, you know, they're all professionals, and sexual harassment isn't tolerated in the military. (Excuse me while I laugh hysterically at your naivete.) Obviously separate barracks are just a relic of antiquated sexism, no longer relevant for the 21st century. Or perhaps you think each soldier can be given individual quarters, complete with private toilet and shower?

Posted by: dmm1 | February 24, 2010 2:50 PM | Report abuse

"Zzim, I'm sure integrating the armed forces was bad for some troops' morale, but you know what Harry Truman no doubt thought? TS

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | February 24, 2010 11:02 AM | Report abuse
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

Kool, gays-in-the-military is not a civil rights issue. Nor is gay marriage.

By attempting to equate the two, you defame and devalue real civil rights issues."

Zzim - Bullsh*t. The black community doesn't have a sovereign claim to all civil rights issues. We're talking about refusing to allow a group of men and women to defend and protect their country because of who they are. Period. Who cares whether that denial is because of their skin color? It's a violation of civil rights if I were forbidden to serve because I'm a woman. It's a violation of civil rights if my husband were forbidden to serve because he's a black man. It's a violation of civil rights if my sister were forbidden to serve because she's Catholic. And guess what? It's just as much a violation of civil rights if my brother were forbidden to serve because he's gay.

Posted by: ANFDC | February 24, 2010 3:00 PM | Report abuse

First of all, has anyone ever considered the morale of those gay soldiers serving under the current system?

Second of all, for those who do not understand why a gay person would want to serve in the military, many of us at 18, when we joined, do not know that we are gay. So, when we come to the realization that we are gay, why should we have to give up a career because we like people of the same sex?

Posted by: RunnerGirl1 | February 24, 2010 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Skowronek raises a good point about colleges/universities, but comes to the wrong conclusion. As schools have become more and more sexually liberal, the performance of the students has continually DROPPED. Parents should insist that, at the least, their children should be allowed to opt out of sharing a dorm room with someone whose sexual proclivities are disruptive to their ability to concentrate on the task at hand -- which is LEARNING. Any parents sending their kids to schools that won't allow that are fools. Wake up, American parents! Who's paying the bills?

Posted by: dmm1 | February 24, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse

To dmm1: I am gay, served in the military and I am proud to say that I was able to contain myself in the barracks. We did however have a problem with one woman reporting another because the woman had disclosed that she was gay to a group of us. The gay woman got kicked out, but not for harrassing anyone. She was kicked out for stating, "I am gay."

Posted by: RunnerGirl1 | February 24, 2010 3:10 PM | Report abuse

This is not the most important objection to having practicing homosexuals in the military, but it's one to be considered: Has anyone contemplated the affect that openly gay U.S. soldiers will have on our ability to establish a rapport with the populations of Afghanistan and Iraq? We already have a public image problem in those countries due to the loose morality portrayed by Hollywood and in fact practiced by many Americans. What happens when the locals view American soldiers as an even greater danger to the moral fabric of their society?

Posted by: dcsuburb | February 24, 2010 3:18 PM | Report abuse

fr ZZim:

>...Kool, gays-in-the-military is not a civil rights issue. Nor is gay marriage.

By attempting to equate the two, you defame and devalue real civil rights issues.<

Marriage EQUALITY is most certainly a civil rights issue. Fortunately, I was able to marry my lovely wife in that too-short window from June 152008-Nov 4 2008 in California, so I take deep offense at YOU telling me that MY marriage is not a civil rights issue. My marriage is rock-solid. Can you say that about every single heterosexual marriage that YOU know about? No, you can't.

Get your head out of the sand, and realize that someday, there WILL be MARRIAGE EQUALITY in all 50 states plus DC.

Posted by: Alex511 | February 24, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Maybe people are against it because just because liberal news media, liberal television and liberal hollyweird are for it, MOST THINKING and UNDERSTANDING US Citizens KNOW that it is a deviant deathstyle, and our YOUNG MEN who are the majority of military personnel who PUT THEIR LIVES ON THE LINE, don't want other men ogling them while they shower. We DON'T CARE THAT THE APA were infiltrated with Kinseian (he studied sex offenders in prison and brought that to the mainstream) brainwashed deviant sex addicts in 1973 and changed a definition of homosexuality as not being deviant, right deviants changing the definition of deviancy.

Maybe this helps you understand those who disagree with your changing of the norms of America.

We have had enough of your left wing immorality and we are starting to push back.

http://livingfortruth.wordpress.com/2010/01/14/how-the-west-was-lost/

Posted by: funbowhunter | February 24, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

We locate men and women in separate spaces on a ship not because these sailors are unaware of anatomy but to preserve some sliver of privacy and lessen sexual tensions arising from showering and sleeping with the opposite sex. If issues of sexual attraction no longer justify separate living spaces, the Navy will save lots of tax dollars by abolishing 'separate but equal' spaces and insisting all crew in a fully equal Navy live, eat, shower and sleep in the same spaces. After all, lots of male sailors are happy to affirm they will act in a totally professional manner in such a setting. If male sailors can expect to have their careers ruined if they object to sharing living spaces with openly practicing gays, female sailsors need equal treatment. If female sailors are uncomfortable with that, they need to deal with their own sexism and prejudice. Right?

Posted by: feslop | February 24, 2010 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Let the military determine what is the best policy for them. Remember they are the ones physically protecting and dying for this nation, it should be their call, not that of the bureaucracy in Washington, DC.

Sincerely ... Jim DeHart

Posted by: jdehart | February 24, 2010 3:51 PM | Report abuse

"their children should be allowed to opt out of sharing a dorm room with someone whose sexual proclivities are disruptive to their ability to concentrate on the task at hand -- which is LEARNING."

I don't disagree, but you seem to be focusing on a different issue. Having a roommate (or several) who are banging like rabbits and are distracting is one thing. Either spend a lot of time in the library studying, or complain to the RA; preferably do both and get a different roommate at some point. But demanding that your child NOT be assigned a roommate who IS gay, or squawking about someone's sexuality versus their sexual behaviour is silly. Being gay or straight is not necessarily disruptive to your roommates, having your paramour underfoot or singing your praises from the bedroom IS disruptive.

Boorish rude behaviour isn't the exclusive domain of any one particular group or another. You can't presume that just because someone is straight or gay that they are guaranteed to behave rudely regarding their sexual activities.

I figure that young adults need to learn how to speak up about things that bug them with their roommates. That's not something for Mommy and Daddy to fix on their behalf. After all, it's their education and their student loan or scholarship on the line, not mine. If there's a problem, address it with your roommate. If it doesn't improve significantly, discuss it with the RA. Request a change of roommate.

There's a difference between illegal acts and obnoxious ones. People need to learn the difference and act accordingly.

Posted by: Skowronek | February 24, 2010 3:51 PM | Report abuse

It's quite telling that proponents of barring openly LGBT Americans from military service focus on showering and sleeping accommodations, as if deprived of realizing their own same-sex fantasies throughout life. As the son of a US soldier in Vietnam and the grandson of a USAF veteran--and knowing full well who and what I was at age 7 or 8--I saw military service as an opportunity to share in the responsibility for defending this nation and to access the privileges of military service, not a hormone-crazed romp in the barracks.

A brain tumor took away that opportunity long before my coming-out might have. Still, once I was out to my family at 19, my grandfather openly shared recollections of his closeted Gay fellow servicemen in WWW II and in peacetime. None ever hit on him, but he feared for their safety just as understanding heterosexual servicemembers fear for their LGBT peers today.

Posted by: bigolpoofter | February 24, 2010 3:58 PM | Report abuse

"It's nice of all the gays in DC to write in and express their opinion, trying to make this look like "America's opinion." Let me just ask you all one question: Do you think that male and female barracks should be integrated? Because, you know, they're all professionals, and sexual harassment isn't tolerated in the military. (Excuse me while I laugh hysterically at your naivete.)"


Well, of course not, because we all know that straight male military members are unable to control themselves.

Seriously, let's look at these anti-gay arguments. Gay men are so sexually aggressive that they will make straight soldiers uncomfortable - really? Who exactly are hiding out in bushes to grab unsuspecting women and rape them? How many women in the military have been accused of the types of sexual harassment that men are routinely accused of? Who is committing the murders, the robberies, the assaults in our society?

Which "lifestyle choice" has a negative impact on our society?


"Right now, US Marines might be "spooning" in a foxhole somewhere in Afghanistan to keep warm. Right now, some Marine might be hugging his dying friend and crying his eyes out. Right now, some Marine officer might be making the decision as to who he puts "on point" to go up a mine-strewn road.

To inject sexuality into this kind of environment is catastrophic for unit morale."


Yeah, because the Marines are 100% straight now - NOT! As a practicing gay man (I'm still trying to get it right, you know) I can tell you that my totally unscientific survey of my gay and straight friends (yep, I have actual straight male friends, with wives and kids and everything) reveals a) the rate of service among the gay men is far higher than the straight men and b) the Marines are the gayest of the 4 branches - narrowly beating the Navy. And the Medical Corps has the highest percentage of gay and lesbian members.

The military requires tremendous sacrifices on the part of its members - long tours of duty, frequent moves, separation from loved ones. We know how these strain families; why would we not employ the segment of our population who is far less likely to raise children (something like 1/3 - 1/2 of gay or lesbian couples have kids - it's more like 75% among straights)?

More imporantly, the military already works aside gays and lesbians - in military civilian jobs - all the time. In fact one of the Pentagon employees killed on 9/11 was a lesbian accountant, IIRC. And let us not forget Mark Bingham and Waleska Martinez both helped fight back on United 93. Does anyone think their fellow passengers cared that a gay man and a lesbian helped in that mission?

Posted by: CPT_Doom | February 24, 2010 4:15 PM | Report abuse

For the less informed, serving openly means being able to date, hold a conversation (phone, email, or verbal) with your partner and not be called before the Star Chamber. It means giving people the option of dealing with you or not on an honest personal level regardless of your sexuality. It means that whether I'm Gay, Muslim, Catholic, Black or a Woman that while in uniform we will perform like professionals. Nothing says that you have to like or agree with any group. The rules and laws simply deny you the right to be hostile or disrespectful.

Posted by: rcvinson64 | February 24, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse

@rcvinson
That sounds pretty radical--like, I dunno, the Bill of Rights or something.

Posted by: redlineblue | February 24, 2010 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Actually bring back the draft and let everyone, rich, poor, middle class, have the same opportunity to do osmething good for this country besides sucking out the air we need to live. That is the problem today, people feel like they are entitled to everything and anything without any sacrifice.

Posted by: zendrell | February 24, 2010 5:10 PM | Report abuse

Frankly, if a person is willing to put their life and well-being on the line for love of country then it just does not matter what their sexual proclivities are.

Posted by: katman13 | February 24, 2010 5:23 PM | Report abuse

Well Dave19 I have doubts that you where ever in a Foxhole. By the way in the Marine Corp they call them Fighting holes. I have been and can tell you the last thing you would be thinking about is sex. The only thing you would be thinking about is staying alive. And if you happened to be in a two man Fighting Hole the person next to you would only be thinking about staying alive. It's way past time for the Congress to bring our military into the 21 Century and repeal DADT.

Posted by: tim7 | February 24, 2010 5:24 PM | Report abuse

@dcsuburb

Why don't you ask the NATO countries that allow gay and lesbian soldiers to serve openly whether or not they have problems working with the local populations in the middle east? You know, like Britain, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, or the Netherlands?

Seriously, people, gays and lesbians are in the military right now, spooning and showering and all that other stuff you bigots find so terrifying. I'm willing to bet that if you let them serve openly, meaning they no longer have to lie about their sexual orientation, they will continue to observe the regulations regarding sexual harassment and fraternization that apply to all members of the United States military, gay or straight.

Posted by: Katya2 | February 24, 2010 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Some of you are talking as though all men were created equal.

There probably were no gay people when America was founded; otherwise the Framers definitely would have cleared this up.

I think I should be consulted about the sex lives of my co-workers, for reasons of morale. Also that Texan blonde next door, for community's sake.

I want small government that pays administrative, functional, and opportunity costs associated with what kind of sex people like.

Posted by: redlineblue | February 24, 2010 5:40 PM | Report abuse

Maybe some of the "anti-gay" posters would like to talk w/ my gay great-uncle who honorably served in World War II. He's also been with his partner for 60 years. I wonder how many of these same posters can say the same?

Posted by: DCJenninTX | February 24, 2010 5:54 PM | Report abuse

Why is it always anti-gay, anti-DADT types that are obsessed with sex and other guy's d**ks??

So, when you're in that foxhole, in that firefight, you're first thought is...where does this guy next to me like to put his d**k?

Id say the problem is YOU.

Posted by: kreator6996 | February 24, 2010 6:01 PM | Report abuse

Why not just allow those folks who are qualified for the jobs to serve? If you're gay and can speak Arabic, aren't you more useful to the military than a straight guy who can barely speak English (even tho there seem to be plenty of those)? Anyone who acts out of line, sexually, gay or straight, should be disciplined. Otherwise, let professionals be professional. The rest of it is just bigotry hiding behind a smokescreen styled 'morale' or some such nonsense.

Posted by: rtaylor3 | February 24, 2010 6:12 PM | Report abuse

I'm a woman who spent 24 years in the predominately male career field of munitions maintenance. Misogyny, prejudice, and jingoism dies hard in the little military corner of the world.

Men are attracted to a career where you can still cuss, scratch yourself, make jokes about bodily functions, release body fluids in public, and do all those things little boy's mamas wouldn't let them do.

It's time to evolve.

Posted by: arancia12 | February 24, 2010 6:37 PM | Report abuse

Yes, Ms Marcus, how many years have you served in the Military? How many combat tours?

Oh, I thought so. Wasn't in you 'life plan' eh?

So many people writing and comment on something they know nothing about.

Frankly, I don't care if a person is a homosexual (I hate the way that community has hijacked the word 'gay') or a lesbian. BUT, and a very big BUT, I say bring back the draft and have every man and woman have a 'service commitment'. Rich, poor, whatever. No more sniveling Mama's boys hiding in her back bedroom or basement pontificating on the world's issues from a total zero experience level.

Posted by: mosthind | February 24, 2010 7:13 PM | Report abuse

Most Americans are rooting for "Don't care" & understand that general rules of order deal with potential problems in a way that works very well. In fact that it's arguable that the previous "Don't ask, Don't tell" `and then what?' policies interfered with keeping good order says that "Don't care" will result in an eventual force improvement.

Posted by: Nymous | February 24, 2010 7:15 PM | Report abuse


so why dont we just have co-ed showers in the military, I mean just because men like women , it does not mean they will be attracted and want to have sex with them, its only a shower. Why even segregate the sexes at all ?? I mean its only sex and remember the gay line of thinking (which is bizzare)... "just because hetero's prefer sex with each other" it does not mean they cant just turn off there feelings.We can save tons of $'s with mixed sex barracks. Incredible naiveness when it comes to being politically correct.

Posted by: snapplecat07 | February 24, 2010 7:27 PM | Report abuse

Men and women need different quarters because straight men have too often harassed women. Women also need privacy because they menstruate. There is no such difference between gays and straights.

Posted by: asoders22 | February 24, 2010 8:16 PM | Report abuse

Men and women need different quarters because straight men have too often harassed women. Women also need privacy because they menstruate. There is no such difference between gays and straights.

Posted by: asoders22

-- you mean the sexual attraction thing is diff for gays then hetero's ? So gay men and women have the power to turn off there feelings and not act the same way as hetero's ?? wow, didnt know that. You sound pretty naive. Gays and straights behave THE SAME WAY.

Posted by: snapplecat07 | February 24, 2010 8:20 PM | Report abuse

NewsBusters: WaPo’s Marcus Doesn’t Get Opposition to Repealing 'Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell'
http://newsbusters.org/blogs/sarah-knoploh/2010/02/24/wapo-s-marcus-doesn-t-get-opposition-repealing-don-t-ask-don-t-tell

Posted by: StewartIII | February 24, 2010 8:23 PM | Report abuse

I am so glad for everyone in this country thinks our military

IS SO POORLY RUN THAT THE SOLDIERS we have and want to represent our country are TOTALLY INCAPABLE OF HANDLING themselves appropriately and with honor according to the code of conduct that is required.

IS THAT HOW LITTLE WE THINK OF OUR MILITARY

I would encourage every gay in the military to stand up and sing show tunes AND GET THE HELL OUT NOW

Posted by: kare1 | February 24, 2010 8:46 PM | Report abuse

gee, we just don't know

we can't allow something to be rammed through

maybe we ought to wait

don't fix it if it ain't broken

let's start over

we're just not ready

Sniveling procrastination of dishonest, obstructionist "conservatives" who have no intention of considering any change ever.

Posted by: coloradodog | February 24, 2010 10:11 PM | Report abuse

Obama we knew Harry Truman and you're no Harry Truman.

Posted by: coloradodog | February 24, 2010 10:12 PM | Report abuse

There was a backlash when blacks were integrated into the military too. What is strange now is that gays are already serving in the military, many are known to be gay. All this will do is recognize the fact. Or is it better to not know for, what, comfort?

Posted by: Fate1 | February 24, 2010 10:14 PM | Report abuse

Again, my question is how many of you gay bashing "Christian" Huckabees have a DD214 or even know what it is?

Stick to what you know - repeat after Rush:

Obama is a narcissist, awk!

Health care is socialism, awk!

Education is socialism, awk!

God is on only our side, awk!

liberals are "'tards", awk!

Torture is OK, awk!

We need pre-emptive war with Iran now, awk!

We need to occupy Mexico and control it, awk!

Nicotine and alcohol are OK, "Jesus approved" legal drugs, awk!

Earthquakes, hurricanes and disabled punishment are God's wrathful vengeance, awk!

now, rinse your lemming mouths and repeat.........

Posted by: coloradodog | February 24, 2010 10:22 PM | Report abuse

What would any woman know about Gays?----Nothing--

Posted by: conrad031 | February 24, 2010 10:33 PM | Report abuse

Now we've done it. All our enemies have to do is confront our soldiers with sexually provocative video and we will collapse. If we let the gays serve, it will double their chances.

Posted by: davidmichaels1 | February 24, 2010 10:42 PM | Report abuse

What I want to know is: does Ruth Marcus actually read all this stuff? Can anything be heard over this cacophony? Would she, or anyone at the Washington Post, pay the least attention to any comment? If she responds to this comment, I'll get back to you.

Posted by: mcraelt | February 24, 2010 11:52 PM | Report abuse

The problem that many have with ending DODT is having a person being attracted to you in the squadbay. If everyone believes this to be a good idea women, men and gays should all live, train and shower in the same quarters. This is the only way that the situation isfair and equal

Posted by: trader1 | February 25, 2010 12:04 AM | Report abuse

-----Men and women need different quarters because straight men have too often harassed women. Women also need privacy because they menstruate. There is no such difference between gays and straights.

Posted by: asoders22

** you mean the sexual attraction thing is diff for gays then hetero's ? So gay men and women have the power to turn off there feelings and not act the same way as hetero's ?? wow, didnt know that. You sound pretty naive. Gays and straights behave THE SAME WAY.

Posted by: snapplecat07 ------

What I meant was that there is a tradition of aggressive behavior from straight men against women (lesbians or not), that presents an ever greater risk in an environment of military life and war. Men are usually not only more aggressive but also physically stronger. You are the naive one if you don't realize and recognize this.

I have practiced martial arts and showered with the other gender, no problem. We were all friends. But I wouldn't like anyone to be forced to do it, since in almost every group of men there are those jerks, and when they come together, then can be dangerous. This is the real world. Being a female in a male dominated place is almost always intimidating. And if builders and auto mechanics find it difficult to behave towards women coworkers, you think men in the army or navy are any easier to deal with?

That's one part. The other part is that women do need a higher level of privacy and hygiene, when possible, because they menstruate. This is no little matter, it takes up about 1/4 of a fertile woman's life.

Posted by: asoders22 | February 25, 2010 2:56 AM | Report abuse

I think that we do not give enough credit to those serving or even the American public. I don't think that the majority of people really care if one is gay or not. As long as they can do thier job. Just as it would be with a hetrosexual person. It is time that we give the same rights to everyone. Time to end the DADT policy and not prolong it while the leaders that be study it for a year (or more).

Posted by: MsV1 | February 25, 2010 8:32 AM | Report abuse

Many gays serve quietly and anonymously in today's military as they have for generations. However, they have learned the rules of conduct, they remember their oath and keep their sexuality to themselves thus not creating conflicts. Young men and women who enter the service are forced, repeat forced, to live in abnormal living conditions and working conditions. They do not need the added stress of social engineering by non-serving, non-sacrificing liberals imposed upon them. We tried Project 100,000 and it was an abysmal failure. We are at war and don't have the luxery of time to deal with this distraction. The type of aggressive individuals we need to fight in today's combat situations aren't your liberal left leaning college kids, they are crude, rude and often socially unacceptable but they are magnificent warriors. Many of whom have trouble fitting in back home with those who haven't seen the horrors, smelled the stench and lived the filthy lifestyle they have endured so these a__holes can write in blogs like this of their liberal ideology. Serve in a combat unit overseas for a tour then give us your opinion, otherwise if you aint going to have to live the lifestyle, stay the hell out of the discussion. As one who served 22 years 18 overseas in Europe, Middle East and Vietnam and speaks three European languages I have often discussed this issue with my foreign counterparts. Not at the general level, but at the grunt level where the dying is. They did and do have problems with their gays and there is a lot of morale difficulties that don't hit the newspapers there or here because it would reflect badly on the Generals and the politicians. So don't presume to know facts you have no way of knowing. Don't tell those of us who have observed the current American lifestyle upclose that young gay men will change their lusting habits when they put on a uniform because that's bullsh_t ask any First Sergeant. Those who got the boot for being gay after DADT either wanted out and spoke up or were caught violating their OATH and the rules of conduct. Those who obeyed their oath and dealt with their sexuality off-base, out of uniform, had no problems. JFK said, Life is Not Fair. That goes double for the militry lifestyle. Guys who kill or send others to kill for a living don't want to be bothered by those whose major preoccupation is running their mouths about "civil rights." Keep them in your community, but let the warriors defend your right to be a__holes while they practice their profession.

Posted by: tazzt | February 26, 2010 3:15 AM | Report abuse

tazzt: First you are saying, correctly, that many gays are serving "quietly" in the army as they have done for generations.

Then you say: "The type of aggressive individuals we need to fight in today's combat situations aren't your liberal left leaning college kids, they are crude, rude and often socially unacceptable but they are magnificent warriors."

How do you even combine those two statements in your head? Are the quietly serving gays also crude, rude and so on? How come then they are able to accept unfair rules? And, by the way, aren't all of them supposed to fight for precisely those civil rights you claim they can't be bothered with?

Start from zero and think again. And please use paragraphs.

Posted by: asoders22 | February 26, 2010 6:52 AM | Report abuse

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