Uncle Sam Wants You:

From yesterday's Boston Globe, a story with interesting implications for "Don't Ask, Don't Tell":

The US military allowed at least 36 gay soldiers last year to stay in uniform, despite efforts by their commanders or fellow soldiers to have them discharged under the ''don't ask, don't tell" policy, according to a review of hundreds of cases in which soldiers sought to remain in uniform without denying their homosexuality. The number of soldiers allowed to stay despite being identified as gay -- 36 of 120 contested cases -- was substantially higher than in 2004, when 22 of 125 soldiers prevailed, and three times as many as in 2003, when only 12 of 107 were able to persuade their commanders or a military review board to keep them in uniform, the data show.

Thirty-six soldiers may not seem like a lot, but it's now almost a third of the contested discharges for homosexuality -- and it's rising. (Most don't contest their discharges.) Moreover, these numbers mirror a larger recent trend in discharges for homosexuality. Consider the military discharges for homosexuality for each year since 1982:

1982 -- 1,998

1983 -- 1,815

1984 -- 1,822

1985 -- 1,660

1986 -- 1,644

1987 -- 1,380

1988 -- 1,100

1989 -- 997

1990 -- 941

1991 -- 949

1992 -- 708

1993 -- 682

1994 -- 597

1995 -- 722

1996 -- 850

1997 -- 997

1998 -- 1,145

1999 -- 1,034

2000 -- 1,212

2001 -- 1,273

2002 -- 906

2003 -- 787

Notice two key pivot points in these numbers. From 1982 until 1994, discharges from the military for homosexuality declined almost every year (going from 1,998 in 1982 down to 597 in 1994). Starting in 1994, however, such discharges began to rise and did so almost every year until 2001 (from 597 in 1994 to 1,273 in 2001). Then, in 2001, discharges began to decline again (from 1,273 in 2001 to 787 in 2003).

The pivot dates -- 1994 and 2001 -- are themselves remarkable. The year 1994 was the first full year of the "compromise" DADT policy, which was said to allow homosexuals to serve as long as they kept their sexual orientation secret (though that's not what the federal law actually says). Yet discharges rose every year under DADT until 2001. Part of the rise immediately after DADT could be explained by the fact that some gay service members "came out" in 1993, believing that President Clinton would carry through on his election-year promise to end the ban by executive order. But that does not explain the continuing rise after the first couple of years. It's hard to make the case that DADT was a softening of military policy on homosexuals. Things got worse for gay soldiers, not better.

Things got worse until 2001, that is. That year saw the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, leading to the war in Afghanistan and the larger war on terror. Discharges for homosexuality during this time of great military need (including now, Iraq) have declined.

The question is, why the decline? The Globe story offers a couple of theories that might explain it:

The Pentagon declined to explain why more gay soldiers were being retained, but the lawyers who represent soldiers challenging cases under the policy say the Pentagon seems to have softened its stance on homosexuality. The lawyers attributed the change both to a growing acceptance of gays within the ranks and to the military's need to keep more highly trained soldiers in the Iraq War. ''As the country has changed, so have the people in the military," said Sharra Greer, director of law and policy at the nonprofit Service Members' Legal Defense Network, which represents gay soldiers challenging their dismissals. ''More commanders are not enforcing [don't ask, don't tell] strictly."


''The equations for commands have shifted," Greer said. ''They are under enormous pressure to retain people. They do a cost-benefit analysis and we are hearing the same thing: 'I really don't care if you are gay and I am not going to kick you out.' "' Recent studies have shown that many soldiers dismissed in past years under ''don't ask, don't tell" tended to be in highly trained specialties now in demand, including linguists and medical technicians. ... Meanwhile, there is a growing body of evidence that attitudes have changed within the ranks. A recent study by the Naval Postgraduate School found that a majority of military personnel felt comfortable around openly gay colleagues.

The two explanations -- softening attitudes toward homosexuals in the military ranks and wartime needs -- probably feed each other. The need to defeat a common enemy causes people to subordinate other interests and concerns that might predominate in peacetime. War is not a time for obsessing about abstractions or ideological purity; it's intensely practical. Indeed, the recent declines in discharges for homosexuality follow a historical pattern: such discharges typically decline during active military conflict. It happened during both the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Yet when those wars ended, discharges for homosexuality began to rise once again.

What does this leniency toward homosexuality during wartime say about DADT? It may simply say that in wartime the need for bodies overrides almost all other interests. But it's interesting to examine these numbers in light of the particular way in which DADT has been justified. While a number of justifications for the policy have been offered, by far the most prominent one is recited in the federal law setting up DADT: "The presence in the armed forces of [homosexuals] would create an unacceptable risk to the high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion that are the essence of military capability."

In theory, the unit-morale and cohesion justifications are perfectly reasonable and could be accepted as the necessary, though distasteful, price we must pay to have an effective military. And it is during times of active military conflict -- like the present -- that the needs of unit morale and cohesiveness are surely the greatest. If homosexuals were truly a threat to martial values, you'd expect intense pressure to remove them during war since their presence in the services would be at best a distraction and at worst a hindrance -- which could be deadly.

But it is in times such as these that the opposite occurs: more homosexuals are retained. War concentrates the mind on what really matters, and what really matters is not the sexual orientation of the Arab linguist, or the fighter pilot, or the nurse, or the person helping you defuse the IED on the road to the Baghdad airport. What matters is his training, his dedication, and his willingness to put himself at risk for the good of the group. If he does not have these qualities, it should not matter that he's straight. If he does have these qualities, it should not matter that he's gay. The numbers suggest that military professionals are quietly coming to the same conclusion.

Nathan Hall (mail):
One possible explanation: the military seeks to build unit cohesion and morale during peace as well as war, but does so differently in each case. On active duty, unit cohesion is accomplished by shared risks and goals. In peacetime, these factors are lessened and artifical means--good order and discipline--are used instead. It is at least conceivable that homosexuality may have a greater detrimental effect on military morale during peace than during war. As to whether this is actually the case, I have no expertise.
3.20.2006 7:47pm
Russell Wardlow (mail) (www):
Talking to some JAG attorneys who had done DADT-actions, I got the impression that the majority of cases were for almost surely straight men suddently saying they were gay to get out of service.
3.20.2006 7:48pm
KeithK (mail):
According to some, servicemen sometimes claim to be gay in order to get themselves discharged. If this is true (and I have no evidence other than anecdotes) then this might skew the numbers somewhat. It might mean that a larger percentage (compared to 36/120) of real gays are allowed to stay (the lying malcontents are allowed to leave) or it might mean the reverse (the malcontents are retained). Again, I don't have evidence either way.
3.20.2006 7:52pm
Defending the Indefensible:
For those who are bringing up the idea of straight men trying to get discharged, these statistics are for contested discharges.
3.20.2006 7:59pm
SenatorX (mail):
"The need to defeat a common enemy causes people to subordinate other interests and concerns that might predominate in peacetime. War is not a time for obsessing about abstractions or ideological purity; it's intensely practical"

Bingo. When the gay guy/girl saves your ass or is watching your back while you sleep you tend to not give a damn about who they want to sleep with. When I was in the Army (89-92) there were gays that were not exactly subtle about their preferences and I don't remember other soldiers causing any issues. They were all as competent as anyone else and that mattered.

What exactly is the mechanism by which homosexuals "...would create an unacceptable risk to the high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion that are the essence of military capability."?

Is that a joke?
3.20.2006 8:40pm
Randy R. (mail):
The fact is that Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Israel and, most recently, Great Britain, allow openly gay soldiers to serve in their armed forces. When Britain allowed it, they announced to all members of the service that if they have a problem serving with gay men and women, they may leave and get an honorable discharge. To date, only three people have done so.

Our soldiers in Iraq and Afganistan are currenlty serving with openly gay officers and soldiers from the British forces. And there are no problems that I have heard about.

About three years ago, the Army Navy War College did an extensive report about gays in the military and found that there simply is no justification for disallowing gays. In all the countries mentioned above, there have been very fefw disciplinary problems caused by this integration, far fewer than most had predicted, in fact. The conclusion of the report is that if the armed services want to continue the ban, they should at least have the honesty and say it is based solely on unwarranted discrimination.
3.20.2006 8:58pm
Randy R. (mail):
A recent study by the Naval Postgraduate School found that a majority of military personnel felt comfortable around openly gay colleagues.

I think this statement, more than anything else, will freak out the religious right. They work so hard at trying to convince people to hate us, they can't believe they are losing.

In my conversations with army folk (I live in Washington, and believe me, there are plenty of gay people in the military)(In fact, most people agree that the highest percentages of gay men are in the Marines), I've learned that there are many units where you can be openly gay, and others where you would be hounded out of the military. The crucial difference is the leadership of the unit. If the Officers at the top are okay with gays, you are safe; if not, you have be very discrete.

That is no way to run an army. But then, Rumsfeld has proved that to us time and time again these past three years....
3.20.2006 9:08pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
If the policy is DADT, and the soldier tells, then his speech is in violation of orders, and court martial ought not to consider information whose revelation is prohibited by a direct order.

Catch-22. The best catch there ever was.
3.20.2006 9:23pm
Guest44 (mail):
Seems like more evidence of the view I've been propounding: DADT is Congress's policy, or (Congress plus JCS from 13 years ago)'s policy. DADT is not the policy of today's military.
3.20.2006 10:08pm
Ray (mail):
This is the same Army that just announced that their basic training will be nicer; not as much yelling, more breaks, and far less stress. It was on the front page of the Wall Street Journal. About 6 months ago, or so, a drill sergeant was court-martialed for hitting a recruit on the head with a rolled up newspaper.

The US Army is changing, for better or worse.

As for anecdotal evidence, I was in the Marine Corps from 88 -- 92 and homosexuals were absolutely not welcome.

I think the wishful thinking that the Corps would have the highest percentage of gays is more akin to an urban legend; one of those things that seems so incongruous with the expected reality that certain people want to believe it. (The perceived toughest branch also having the most gays.)

Anyone living in Washington is not getting around the average military personnel. And this is just conjecture, but it would stand to reason that the gay personnel that do exist, would be more prone to the kind of staff positions found in DC and northern VA. Just think of the Seinfeld episode where they were talking about gay men always being skinny and neat. Now think of career fields heavy with homosexual men; bank tellers come to mind, diesel mechanics do not.

All the reasons as to why gays should or shouldn't be in the military are tired arguments by now, but just because other nations allow it is probably the worst argument yet. So what?

The cited study is in and of itself worthless. Who actually conducted the study? Was it military wide or did they concentrate on certain units, certain MOSs? Too many gaps, and what might their own personal agenda be? We never assume other more obviously political studies to be agenda free, why would we assume that the military is free of people who are also ideologically motivated to "push" a study?

Being a former Marine, and thus naturally knowing a great many veterans, I've seen very little anecdotal evidence to support the idea that homosexuals are any more welcome today than ever before. And that's really the point; not how competent or tough a gay soldier might be, but the overall effect on troop morale. Homosexuals are still referred to in all of the age old pejorative ways in the military; not being able to hack a particular drill or exercise still labels a guy as, shall we say, effeminate.
3.20.2006 10:28pm
U.Va. 1L (mail):

You're talking about the numbers posted by Prof. Carpenter? That's not a concocted study, those are the discharge numbers for homosexuality in the military. All MOSs. The same goes for what was in the Globe story: military-wide, there were 36 gay soldiers who successfully fought their discharge out of a total of 120 who contested it..
3.20.2006 10:45pm
Ray (mail):
No, the Naval Postgraduate School. Never heard of it, but there are plent of little mini-war colleges out there.

Point wasn't that it was a concocted study, but why should we take a simple quote from a little known study, as if it were a perfectly valid and objective piece of information? The military is very political; I was incredulous as a young man when I found out how many mid-level officers seemed to only be in to try and change the organization. They had agendas, just the same as the civilian world.
3.20.2006 10:57pm
Daniel Mow (mail):
It is important to note that military administrative discharge boards can allow gays in the military to remain in service so long as they can convince the members of the board they will not perform homosexual acts.

DADT actually prohibits homosexual acts, not just being homosexual. So celibate homosexuals are actually allowed to serve, provided they can prove that status.
3.20.2006 10:58pm
Ray (mail):
Daniel has a point. I'm not as familiar with the details of DADT, but as rigid as the military is, it can be amazingly flexible at times as well. These little boards that convene to cover everything from shoplifting to homosexuality can exercise broad discretionary powers.

I found myself in front of a board one time over a seemingly small thing, but it was also supposed to be a done deal, no hope for a reversal or anything. Well, I quickly realized that my petty little disturbance was being, in essence, tried by these 3 men. They were going to make a decision as to whether or not my current situation should be left to stand. Complete surprise.

Point being that if a soldier is accused, or admits to a violation of DADT, he could still be let off if it doesn't get beyond the Company level. This would depend on his Company commander, and possibly his senior enlisted (First Sgt, SGTMAJ, etc).
3.20.2006 11:04pm
Gaius Obvious (mail):
What are the percentages for those raw numbers? I think the military was significantly larger in total number of personnel in 1982 than is was in 1997. As the numbers decline or rise perhaps they mirror the decline or rise in total persons in the service.
3.20.2006 11:36pm
RBG (mail):
Two quick points:

First, I'm not sure how this would affect the numbers, but Dale seems to assume that the number of gays joining the military remains relatively constant over time. Given the changes in gay culture, national politics, etc., this seems to me to be extremely unlikely. And if the numbers of gays entering the military has changes over time, it seems rather disingenuous to draw any conclusions from the numbers of gays expelled from the military.

Second, I'm not sure what exactly the above poster means by contested cases, but at dinner the other night with a law school classmate who's JAG, he explained that almost all DADT cases are contested now, including those by people who clearly want to be dismissed (not identical to straights who want out, but certainly some overlap); savvy defense counsel advise service members to do so in the event that the Supreme Court eventually rules that the USCMJ's prohibition on sodomy is unconstitutional, the theory being that they'll be better positioned to collect back pay if they contest and appeal the dismissal. If this is the case, the statistics on contested/non-contested dismissals is likely to be completely unreliable for analytical purposes.
3.20.2006 11:38pm
Gaius Obvious (mail):
A large number of the more recent DADT discharges are females. Are the increased numbers representative of the higher percentage of females in the service?

Of those who attempt to simply leave under DADT some are simply trying to get an easy way out of military duty. Are the higher number of those retained even though they have "told", soldiers who were not really gay but were simply trying to get out and who were denied because they were making a fraudulent claim?
3.20.2006 11:40pm
Jamesaust (mail):
The military is an evolving organization like any other. The old retire, young officers become middle aged officers. What ten, twenty years ago was unacceptable in civilian life, and no doubt in the military too, is now openly accepted.

Depending on the poll you want to look at two-thirds or three-fourths of the public favors junking DADT. Favor is highly correlated with age - 18-29 year olds' disapproval of DADT exceeds 90%. The critical mid-career ages for officers, where discretion to not enforce the policy shows disapproval of around 75%. Discounting those figures for a more conservative (on average) spectrum of military types, it seems inevitable that a raw majority of officers must disapprove of the policy.

And while I'm not sure the Pentagon is very impressed with experience from the likes of Canada or New Zealand or even Israel (no offense to any of them), I do believe there is a considerable respect for the experience of Britain, which in many ways does have considerable contextual similarites. In five years, the British military has gone to aggressively recruiting homosexuals including freely endorsing gay servicemen and women marching in uniform in various 'gay pride' parades. I'm not sure how much more of an experiment is necessary than the current war in Afghanistan and Iraq. The only real difference is the lack of a religious right in Britain (heck, many of the most powerful homosexual politicians in Britain are in the Conservative Party!).

Personally, I've have two close relatives who are serving or have served recently, both in Iraq. Both have told me that it is no secret that under many commands right now DADT has been all but officially junked. Yes, there are various derogatory comments about gays - most likely retorted back with counter comments by gay and straight alike.
3.21.2006 1:20am
Randy R. (mail):
For a review of the article, go to this link:

That article also addresses exactly whether the experience of other countries that lifted that ban is relevant to the US military.

I find it hysterical that in 2006 there are still men out there who think that gay men all these effeminatem, limp writed types who couldn't shoot a gun. "Oh, of there are gays in the military -- they're the ones cooking food, pushing paper, and ordering flowers for the general's wives." How ridiculous!I personally know of quite a few gay military men, some are officers, and some are even real big tough marines. And they could kick your ass in a new york minute. So let's let go of the stereotypes, shall we? And while were are at it, let's not dismiss studies just because you don't like their conclusions. Facts are facts. And the facts are that there are a number of countries that until recently had a ban on openly gay men and women, for the exact same reason the US military has one, and when they removed the ban, they found no decrease in moral or fighting ability. If they did, they don't you think Israel or Britain, who fight life or death situations all the time, would reverse? But they haven't, and they don't intend to.

So again -- what was the reason for banning gays? Because YOU don't like them? Sorta like when they wouldn't allow blacks in the military, because these big tough Marines just couldn't handle a black man -- or a gay man -- in their ranks.

Like I said, the quote that will piss off the most people who hate gays is the quote that more and more servicemen say that they are perfectly comfortable working alongside gays.
3.21.2006 1:22am
Randy R. (mail):
Some gay are not being discharged, even when they want to be. There was a case not long ago of a Navy surgeon who is gay. Some people found out, and he was getting harassed quite a bit, even to the point of threatening behavior.

Now, you would think that the harassers would then be disciplined. But no, they were not. So the surgeon declared himself gay to his officer, and hoped that by breaking DADT, he would be removed. Months went by, and finally his commanding officer told him he would not be discharged, and that he must continue to work for the Navy.

This distressed the surgeon, because the harassment continued. Finally, he had to get the Serviceman's Legal Defense Network attorneys to sue the military to actually enforce it's own policy of DADT. Now, SLDN actually is working to lift the ban, but until then, they want the military to enact its own regulations.

If gays were allowed to serve openly, then the surgeon should be able to complain about the harassment, and the harassers, not the surgeon (who always got the highest evaluations) could continue to perform his duties.

This is just nuts. Remove the ban!

(My prediction: Within about five posts, someone will question this post and say that I am either lying or I got the facts wrong, simply because they don't like what happened)
3.21.2006 1:28am
Ryan Waxx (mail):
Of course, a lot of these dubious horror stories of harassed-but-noble gays could be fixed simply by enforcing the already-existing, efficent, powerful (some say TOO powerful) anti-harassment machinery already in place in the military.

Funny, how it all seems to dissappear when gays are involved. It could be because the gay person is afraid to admit to the harassment... but it also could be because these sob stories are fairy tales... in both senses of the phrase.

Note that the VAST minority of DADT discharges are uncontested. This gives powerful support to the idea that many, if not most of these discharges are welcomed by the individual and indeed may have nothing at all to do with homosexuality.

If you or someone you love is facing a (genuine) DADT dismissal, remember that there ARE legal and support groups who WILL help you fight the dismissal. I don't remember the exact websites, but I do remember they're out there. Shouldn't take much more than 15 minutes of google time to find them.
3.21.2006 7:34am
TC (mail):
In my experience in the military, the vast majority of servicemembers discharged under DADT did so voluntarily. They "told" because, for some reason, they wanted to get out. Sometimes everyone in the unit already knew these servicemembers were gay, but now the command had to process their separation; other times it was simply a way to get out of the military for someone who probably was not gay.

I don't think that the statistics above show any big shift in policies or attitudes in the military. It's simply a reflection of our country's post-9/11 fervor. After 9/11 a wave of patriotism swept the country and military service was looked upon as more honorable. Thus, fewer tried to get out, and we can account for the lower number of discharges beginning in 2001.
3.21.2006 8:23am
TC (mail):

The rising number of discharges in the late 1990s into 2000 reflect a strong economy: many servicemembers saw strong job prospects (and better hours) in the civilian world. At that time, military pay was much less than it is now (25-35% lower).
3.21.2006 8:28am
Anderson (mail) (www):
Uncle Sam Wants You

... He *really* wants you ...
3.21.2006 10:21am
TC The problem with your logic is that these are the numbers for people who fought the discharge, they did not want to go. You are talking about the people who would have been happy to leave.
3.21.2006 10:33am
Some Guy (mail):
It's always fun to watch establishment liberals try to "reform" the services. It was good for a laugh in '93, and I'll be darned if I'm not laughing now.

Great luck to ya, kiddies, but the Marines ain't the Massachusetts state supreme court.
3.21.2006 1:28pm
gasman (mail):
You as if not expending energies to expel gays from the military is somehow an indictment of the rational for excluding gays from the military. That expulsions increase after wartime is not a surpise either; the military then has the time and resources to more thoroughly address matters of secondary importance, matters which justifiably are subservient to shooting the enemy and not getting shot.
3.21.2006 2:24pm
gerry (mail):
As a former serviceman there appear to me to be many strong points, especially modernly, for gay integration of the services. I would like to hear them argued rationally in a proper process, say, by way of intelligent litigation on behalf of a real client.

As a lawyer and a litigator I was embarrassed....and then amused by watching entire law faculties disgracing the system and being laughed out of court (and wisely so) in the FAIR debacle. In that shameful context, what I could never pin down, are the answers to these simple questions:

1. If gay exclusion is truly arbitrary, then why hasn't its arbitrariness been established by a case brought for a real client in an appropriate forum? It doesn't seem to be that difficult a case.

2. If the above question remains open (as unlitigated), leaving the policy standing as at least temporarily lawful, what the hell was the FAIR case all about EXCEPT political argument over an as yet lawful policy, disguised as litigative advocacy apparently advanced by a crowd of selfrighteous and presumptuous academics?

3. How could any law teacher ethically participate in censorship of speech, no, in absolute bans of campus speech by another lawyer or class of lawyers (in this case JAG lawyers)seeking to communicate with students?

4. How could any law teacher ethically excuse barring access to his/her students of a class of attorneys serving a distinct and needful class of clients, (here, soldiers who would be represented by JAG attorneys) with no plan to provide legal services to those clients.
3.21.2006 2:42pm
Randy R. (mail):
The policy of the law schools is clear: They do not discriminate against any student or employee based on sex, race, creed, age and sexual orientation, among others.
They are also clear about this: Any prospective employer recruiting students must adhere to the same non-discrimination policy.
So: If a law firm exists that refuses to hire blacks, or women, attempts to set up a booth during the school's job fair, they will be refused for violating the school's own policy.
The military's policy is also clear: they will not hire an openly gay student for their JAG program. This violates the schools policy, and so the schools refuse to have the military recruit on campus.
So the military sued, asking that the school's be required to make an exception for the military on the grounds of the Sullivan Act. In other words, because the government gives the schools money, and so the government should be able to require certain things.
On that basis, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the military.

So, there was no absolute ban on the military. All the schools were saying was that the military should follow the same rules they require all law firms -- don't discriminate based on sexual orientation. It's a consistent policy, consistently applied. Perfectly ethical, if you ask me, and reasonable too. Why shouldn't the schools set the rules on the recruitment of their own students? Agree or not, it is at least rational and ethical. Just substitute race or religion, for sexual orientation in this entire case, and you will see that the schools are doing something they believe is correct, ethical and moral.

Furthermore, if the policy were upheld, there is no 'barring access' to a class of attorneys. if a student on his own wished to contact the JAG office, they could still do so. There was never any prohibition against finding employment with the military.

As for your first argument, there in fact HAVE been lawsuits, and at lower courts, the ban was overturned, only to be reversed at a higher court. The reason is the deference the courts must give to the military in operating the armed forces. This has changed in light of Lawrence v. Texas, and in fact there is a case brewing up to challenge DADT in court. With Lawrence, we have a much stronger legal ground to challenge it based on the fact that it is entirley arbitrary, serves no useful purpose, and violates the Constitution.

So stay tuned.....
3.21.2006 3:02pm
Randy R. (mail):
There seems to be some confusion here about who is being discharged by DADT. The military wants to make the case that virtually all the people being discharged are straight people, and may be a few real gays, who don't like being in the military any more and so find this an easy out.

It isn't an easy out. If discharged for violating DADT, you often lose all the benefits of being in the military, and you are often asked to repay ALL expenses, including educational expenses, incurred for your training. This can amount to tens of thousands of dollars.

Many serviceman were released in violation of DADT, but not because they stood up and said they were gay, but because someone suspected they were and then hunted them down until the military was satisified that he or she was gay. Often forgotten as part of DADT is also, Don't pursue. The military is NOT supposed to make inquiries into the sexual orientation of any person, yet time and again they will open up files of people and gather whatever evidence they can, following them off base, interviewing friends, reviewing emails and like to try to find out if a person is gay. Then, if they fiind out, they try to discharge the person under DADT, when in fact the person never said anything! Not only is that unfair, it's a violation of their own policy.

Sexual harassment of females is problem, and sometimes when a woman rejects the advances of a man, he accuses her of being a lesbian. Just an accusation of an officer is enough for the military to start an investigation. Some women have had to prove that they are straight just to stay in the military.

All this costs money, and redirects resources away from the important issue, which is keeping a good figthing army. So what exactly is the point of rooting out gays, especially if they did NOT violate the policy?
3.21.2006 3:11pm
Randy R. (mail):
I agree that the problem can easily be cleared up by enforcing discipline and anti-harassment laws in the military. That's exactly what lawyers for gays have been arguing for ever since DADT was instituted.

The military won't do it. About ten years ago, a navyman was bludgeoned to death because his shipmates thought he was gay. He face and body beaten so badly, his own mother didn't recognize him. The attackers admitted they did it, and why. ONe was given 18 months in prison, the other was given a few years, with option of parole.

A few years ago, another gay man (subsequently the subject of a tv movie) Todd Helvie, got into a fight and beat the crap out of some soldiers who were harassing him because they thought he was gay. They couldn't stand the fact that they were beat by a gay man, so they went back and found a baseball bat and beat Todd to death. The commanding officer was found to condone anti-gay harassment and yet suffered no penalties, and in fact was subsequently promoted.

The fact is harassment of gays is encouraged in some units, and not at all at others. Others merely look the other way. Which ever, it is the responsibility of the commanding officer to insure that harassment is not tolerated. The fish stinks at the head, in other words.
3.21.2006 3:22pm
Randy R. (mail):
An earlier poster is incorrect: DADT does NOT apply to homosexual acts, but to orientation itself. you can be celebate, but if gay, you will be violation. Likewise, if you are not gay, but engage in homosexual acts, you are not violation. And yes, there are indeed straight boys who enjoy a good blow job now and then, and they dont' care who services them.

Of course, if this country ever gets a draft, all you have to do is declare you are gay, and poof! your draft card melts away. Congress will quickly reverse the ban.
3.21.2006 3:26pm
Ray (mail):
The matter of how tough or not tough an individual gay man might be was already covered. That, and you tend to personalize your posts, as in "you" hate gays, and "you" banned gays, and plenty of gays could kick "your" ass, etc.


The point wasn't about the gays, but about the rest of the military. And toughness or ability to shoot is not necessarily what the military is looking for. Hell night at Parris Island typically saw about 15% of the platoon wash out, and some of these guys were big, tough hombres. Point being that their toughness wasn't what was required; they were looking for certain traits that not just everyone possesses (of which said traits have nothing to do with being gay or straight). So its about what is good for the entire military, not about the individuals members.

And yes, the Army is changing, their basic training has changed much, and not for the good. However, the Marines are going, from the point of view of the Left, backwards. In response to the Clinton military, stress cards in basic, DADT, etc, the Marines have reverted more than ever to being stringently old school military. So don't believe every Rolling Stone article you read about how comfortable one or two Marines feel around homosexuals.

Al Grey in the 80s brought back the gritty warrior ethos that was beginning to ebb in the 70s, and it really is a warrior environment. It is a very insular world in many respects, and a vast majority of the Marines simply do not trust homosexuals.

And this is where people get a little offtrack; they think that if someone doesn't want gays in the military, then they must "hate" gays. Servicemen, especially those who want to be promoted one day and thus do not want to come across as lacking discretion, will sweeten up their answers to poll takers, in the same fashion that people often answer poll takers, by telling them what they think they want to hear.

As for the foreign militaries adopting gay services, again, who cares? Why this matters needs to be credibly asserted past the point of just saying "well, everyone else does it." Resting one's argument solely on the fact that others do it, implies an inherent superiority in those other militaries. If your friend says that you should dress more like Bob, and not like Joe, assuming you both know Bob, and Joe, the implication is that it is better to be like Bob than Joe. But why?
3.22.2006 12:25am
Ray (mail):
One more point that I failed to sharpen.

Most Marines don't hate gays. They just don't trust them, and though the source of that distrust may remain in their subsconscious, it basically stems from the fact that gays are just abnormal. There will always be something in the back of the other Marines' minds that separates those gay individuals from the group, and in the long run, that is unhealthy for the spirit of the unit.

And I don't mean abnormal as a pejorative, but if gay was normal, we wouldn't be having this conversation.

It's very ironic though; I'm a die-hard individualist, lower-case L libertarian, but this is a case where the good of the whole vastly outweighs the good of the individual. Likewise in this strange irony, those on the Left who are normally of a collectivist mindset, are focused like a laser beam on the good of the individual, if that individual is gay, and the group as a whole can just be damned.
3.22.2006 12:36am
tioedong (mail) (www):
my mom told me that in WWII the joke by her sailor cousin was that if you dropped the soap, don't lean over...
Back then, one's "orientation" was ignored, but it was recognized as a problem, and those acting on their orientation were thrown out...
I think that the problem of gay cliques keeping out or harassing straights (as my friends reported in the old days of the WACS) is a valid worry...
Also, in small isolated units that have to act under pressure, any threatening behaviour can cause tension...this includes both homosexual and heterosexual sexual tension, sexual harassment, jealousy, affairs, playing one lover against the other etc...
And don't forget: Many men have been sexually abused by older men, and if a gay comes on to them, the resulting rage might end up in violence...just like a flirtatious female soldier could cause fighting and morale problems...
So it comes down again to behavior, not orientation...
3.22.2006 12:45am
Hovsep Joseph (mail) (www):

You make the point that being gay is abnormal in the sense that the large majority of people are not gay and that Marines therefore don't trust gay people. But the large majority of people in this country are white as well. The large majority of people in this country are right-handed. The large majority of people in this country are Christian. The large majority of people in this country would never consider joining the Marines. Just because some Marines may subconsciously distrust them, does not mean we should exclude Jewish Americans, Chinese Americans and left-handed Americans from service. Marines, like all humans have irrational subconscious fears and prejudices, but Marines aren't stupid and they aren't incapable of overcoming those prejudices. In fact, they are more capable of sucking it up under pressure and focusing on what really matters. That's why they are Marines and that's why most Americans are not Marines.
3.22.2006 9:02am
Randy R. (mail):
Thanks Ray, I didn't mean to take things personally. But imagine when people are repeating stereotypes about YOU that you find offensive. You tend to take things personally.

But please reread your post, and substitute 'black-American" for gay. That's exactly how serviceman in the 50s thought about blacks -- just didn't want to be around them. Was it fair? No. Was it even correct? As evidence by the fact that a large percentage of our servicemen are black, no. The military adjusted. Was the adjustment easy as pie? Probably not. But everyone agrees our military is better for it.

As for other countries adapting to gay integration. Who care? I do, for this reason. The only officially stated reason for excluding gays in the military is exactly what you say, that the servicement would be uncomfortable, and that they would not like it. In all these other countries, that was the exact same issue before integration. Many officers threatened to quit if gays were admitted, many servicemen said hell no to working alongside gays, and so on.

Then the ban was lifted, and surprisingly, there were very few problems. The report concluded that the officers and servicemen in fact handled the integration with every bit of professionalism that you would expect.

So who cares? The point is that except for just bald-faced prejudice (and in inaccurate one at that), gays are excluded from the military. It costs the military a fortune to recruit, train, then investigate and remove gays, it hurts our ability to fight wars (we lost a significant number of Arabic translators due to this policy) and it doesn't even work. So again, please tell me WHY we need to ban gays!
3.22.2006 10:15am
Randy R. (mail):
Two points that has been lost in this debate. First, I am a little off when I say gays are banned in the military. That's not quite right -- only openly gay people are. The military in fact has no problem with gay people serving, as long as they are closeted. So that alone should tell you that there is nothing inherently wrong with gay people servicing -- it's only the perception of gays that is the problem. I think once servicemen actually get to know gays, and get all that religious right-wing propaganda out, they will realize we are humans like everyone else. Are we perfect? Of course not, but we should all be judged as individuals, not as a group.

Despite what some believe, there are indeed a number of gay men who are currently active-duty marines. I personally know this as a fact. I personally know many men who served honorably as marines as well. If a straight marine were to actually find out there he was serving with a gay man all this time with no problems, some would freak out, but I am willing to bet you that most would do what an marine is supposed to do -- honor his brother marine. If you become a marine, you EARNED it, and that merits respect, regardless of sexual orientation, and that's something every marine can agree on. Perhaps on that basis we can find common ground.

Secondly, some people have said that the number of discharges is due to straight people, and some gays, who just find it an easy out. If this is really true (and I'm suspicious of that argument), then it's all the more reason to lift the ban, because it simply is not working as intended.

Afterall, why should we allow any serviceman an easy out? That's simply unfair to all the rest who serve out their term honorably. I would think that everyone would agree that the ban should then be lifted to close that loophole, and force everyone to live up to the terms of their recruitment, no?
3.22.2006 10:24am
Daniel Mow (mail):
Randy R.,
Ok, I will concede that the policy I am discussing only applies to the Army (though I imagine the other services have similar policies).

But you are incorrect on a few points:
First, celibate (or "closeted" for lack fo a better term) homosexuals may serve. I believe you allude to this in a later post.
Second, straight people who engage in homosexual acts that are discovered by their command in having done so are in violation of Army regs under regs should be discharged. Again, acts are the focus, not orientation.

AR 600-20 (Army Command Policy) states that:
"A person's sexual orientation is considered a personal and private matter and is not a bar to entry or continued service unless manifested by homosexual conduct in a manner described in para a(3) (pg 27 of the AR).

Third, the "hunts" you speak of are (for better and worse) often official investigations required by Army regulation to determine the truth or falsehood of allegations of homosexual conduct. As a matter of fact, commanders are supposed to be held responsible for the safety of individuals being investigated. I understand fair investigations don't always happen, nor does adequate protection of individuals accused of being homosexual. That is poor leadership. But that doesn't mean all Army leadership approves of the DADT policy.

I am not a fan of DADT. I think gays should be allowed to serve openly. However, until political leadership with enough political capital and guts is willing to force the military to change, it won't happen. That is the nature of the beast (with both good and bad consequences). But I'd rather have the military be subordinate to civilian leaders, that is the way it was designed in this country.
That is why the politicization of the military in the upcoming election is something worth watching.
3.22.2006 6:44pm
Ray (mail):
It's more than just the troops feeling uncomfortable, but I'm not sure I have the energy to argue the finer points of homosexual men just not being welcome in the trenches. It's a very tight fraternity, and gay men are really seen as being different enough that it would be problematic, not for their comfort level, but unit integrity, which hinges on troop morale.

I can't speak from anecdotal evidence for blacks in the military in the 50s, but there are two important points to make from that subtopic.

1) Most black people are highly offended to have their race compared to that of the homosexual community; comparing things such as gay marriage to whether or not a black peson was able to do something as simple as use the same water fountain as a white person is the height of arrogance to most sensibilities.

2) Most white people, military or otherwise did not in fact have any strong aversions to black people intergrating into the overall society. Only the true racists had such a loud voice and that traditions were on their side. It was Thomas Sowell I believe that made some fairly enlightening points in his book Vision of the Anointed about how different the South was from the rest of the country in the immediate time frame leading up to the Civil Rights era.

But that's another topic.
3.22.2006 9:30pm
Randy R. (mail):
Thanks for the response Ray. As you probably can guess, I'm eager to respond!

1) Some black people are indeed offended to have their race compared to homosexuality. Therefore, you should not be making the exact same claims to exclude gays in the military that were made to exclude blacks in the 50s. Until just two years ago, a gay man could not legally have sex with another gay man in many about 13 states, mostly in the south. I'd say that's about as intrusive as not being able to drink water from a fountain, wouldn't you? Not being able to marry the one person you love is pretty darn intrusive, and perhaps even more damaging to a person's life than not drinking from a water fountain.

The reason why WE gays make the analogy is because sexual orientation is not something that can be changed. It is, according to every credible study, as well as the firm belief of every gay person I've ever known, that we were born with it, or got it at a very early age, and that there is simply no way to change it, even though many people I know spent a large part of their lives earnestly trying. So like skin color, sexual orientation is immutable.

(Actually, race doesn't really exist. According to the latest biology, we are all one race, African, since we are decendents of tribes that migrated out of Africa 50,000 years ago. But that's another debate.)

2) Most people in the US do not have strong aversions to gay people integrating into the overall society. Only true homophobes have such a loud voice and that tradition were on their side. In fact, most people support lifting the ban on open gays serving in the military.

finally, your argument is simply that gays should be banned because they would cause discomfort to some servicemen. If that were true, then all gays should be banned, but in fact they are not. Only openly gay men are. If you were correct, then openly gay men could not serve anywhere, but in fact, as many people have pointed out, many units allow openly gay men and no one has a problem with it. In addition, our coalition forces must work with soldiers from Great Britain, Canada, Australia and so on who in fact have openly gay men serving, and there are no problems. In addition, your comment about unit integrity is wrong, because many other countries have found that there is no evidence of a decrease in unit integrity or troop morale when gay people openly serve.

So-- what it all boils down to is that some servicement simply don't like being around gay men, and the military should cater to their discomfort. Why? Because of nothing more that prejudice or bigotry or plain old ignorance. But the armed forces are supposed to fight for all Americans, not just the ones they like. And the armed forces learned a long time ago that when they are reflective of the country as a whole, when they represent the poor and the rich, the black and the white, the men and the women, the liberal and the conservative, it makes for a stronger defense. Furthermore, many of these servicemen, when discharged, must work in a larger world, and this world contains people of all sorts, including openly gay men. It doesn't serve them in the long run to coddle their prejudices, but to challenge them. They might have a gay supervisor someday, or a gay subordinate -- they still have to work as a team for the company.

I'm not in the military, so I don't know exactly what it's like. I bow to others when they talk about unit cohesion and tightness. However, there is no evidence to support the notion that openly gay men serving would destroy that. Until you can produce something other than anecdotal evidence, then you have a very thin sheet of ice supporting a dubious and unworkable policy.

Lastly, do you really think that troop morale would plummet if those 30 or so Arab linguists had not been discharged because of their sexual orientation? Don't you think it's just a tad bit more important to get fast translations from potential terrorists than to worry whether a serviceman might be uncomfortable? Linguists are not subject to arguments of 'unit cohesion', so if at the end of the day, that's your only arguement, then you must agree that its okay for have gay people translate documents for the army.
3.23.2006 1:34am