Archive | Don’t Ask

Rick Santorum’s Army of Celibates

Since Rick Santorum’s unexpected success, his extreme social conservatism has gotten a lot of attention. In some cases, it goes beyond what even most conservative Republicans would be willing to support. My personal favorite extreme Santorum quote hasn’t yet gotten as much play as some of the others.

In a September GOP debate, Santorum responded to a question about his position on the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell by saying that “any type of sexual activity has absolutely no place in the military.” Perhaps Santorum merely meant that military personnel should not be having sex while on duty. But if that’s the case, no one disagrees with him, including supporters of the repeal of DADT. Getting rid of DADT doesn’t change regulations forbidding sexual behavior that interferes with the performance of duty. The more natural reading of Santorum’s quote is that military personnel should be forbidden to engage in “sexual activity” of any kind for as long as they are in the armed forces. If that’s the case, only celibates could serve in the military.

It’s possible that Santorum simply misspoke. But when the moderator asked him to explain his position further, he actually dug the hole deeper:

When moderator Megyn Kelly pressed him on what he would do as President, he fired back, “We are playing social experimentation with our military right now and that’s tragic…going forward we would reinstitute that policy if Rick Santorum was president, period.”

Santorum acknowledged that he couldn’t do much about those men and women currently serving in the military that have admitted to being gay, but concluded by saying, “Sex is not an issue, it should not be an issue, leave it alone and keep it to yourself whether you’re a homosexual or a heterosexual.”

In Santorum’s army, not only would [...]

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The Return of ROTC to Elite Universities

The LA Times has an article describing how ROTC programs have returned to many elite universities in the wake of the abolition of the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy:

Helped by the recession, more active recruiting and a sea change in student perceptions of the military, enrollment in ROTC programs on college campuses is booming.

Even with ongoing U.S. involvement in conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and now Libya, participation in the program has surged 27% over the last four years — to 56,757 men and women, according to the Defense Department. The military boosted the number of ROTC scholarships to help expand the wartime officer corps, and the recession made the offers attractive to students.

Today’s college students, who never faced a military draft and whose childhood memories include the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, are more receptive than their parents’ generation to seeing fellow students in uniform. Returning veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and are now enrolled in college also create a more sympathetic, and familiar, image of the military.

In another sign of the changing times, the congressional rescinding last year of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” ban on gays serving openly in the military has recently led Stanford, Harvard and several other elite universities to take steps to welcome the ROTC back to their campuses for the first time in 40 years.

On-campus military training still raises hackles for some. Yet even critics acknowledge that most current college students are willing to accept the ROTC.

I previously wrote about the return of ROTC here and here. Although I thought that DADT was a shortsighted and unjust policy, I also argued that banning ROTC and military recruiters from campus was not the right way to combat this form of anti-gay discrimination. Be that [...]

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Harvard Allows Return of ROTC

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about the question of whether elite universities will allow ROTC programs to return to campus now that the don’t ask don’t tell policy has been repealed and gays and lesbians can serve openly in the military. I am happy to report that Harvard University has now agreed to recognize ROTC [HT: Harvard student Yair Rosenberg]:

The Reserve Officers’ Training Corps will be formally recognized by Harvard tomorrow after a 40-year hiatus, the University announced today. University President Drew G. Faust and Navy Secretary Ray Mabus are set to sign an agreement Friday that will recognize the Naval ROTC on campus.

“Our renewed relationship affirms the vital role that the members of our Armed Forces play in serving the nation and securing our freedoms, while also affirming inclusion and opportunity as powerful American ideals,” Faust said in a statement. “It broadens the pathways for students to participate in an honorable and admirable calling and in so doing advances our commitment to both learning and service.”

Previously, University officials have stated that they would not recognize the program until “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”—the military policy which banned gays from openly serving the military—was lifted. Since Congress repealed the ban in November, Faust and other officials have been in discussions with the Pentagon about bringing the program back to campus.

Apparently, Harvard ROTC participants will continue to train at MIT rather than at Harvard itself. That, however, seems to be a cost-driven decision by the Pentagon, not the result of any effort by Harvard to keep the military off-campus.

Although I have always opposed DADT, I also argued that banning ROTC and military recruiters from campus was not the right way to combat this form of anti-gay discrimination. Be that has it may, there [...]

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Will the End of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Lead to the Return of ROTC Programs to Elite Universities?

At the Weekly Standard blog, Cheryl Miller asks whether the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell will lead to the return of ROTC programs to elite university campuses [HT: here]. In recent years, university officials have defended the exclusion of ROTC from campus as a way of countering the military’ discrimination against gays and lesbians, and have vehemently denied that they are antimilitary. With the end of DADT, that obstacle to ROTC should be removed.

As Miller points out, the Pentagon may have reasons for its own for choosing not to establish ROTC programs at some elite schools. And there are those in the military who strongly dislike elite academia. Thus, some schools might not get ROTC programs any time soon even if university administrators support the idea. Still, nothing prevents university officials from announcing that they would now welcome the return of ROTC programs if the military is interested. President Obama urged them to do just that in his recent State of the Union speech.

The same point applies to law schools. After having lost a Supreme Court case over the issue, law schools were forced to permit military recruiters to interview on campus as a condition of receiving federal funding under the Solomon Amendment. In the aftermath of this legal defeat, most law schools admitted recruiters, but continued to emphasize that they were doing so under duress. Some also adopted various “ameliorative practices” required by the American Association of Law Schools, and designed to emphasize their opposition to the presence of military recruiters. Both the AALS and individual schools should repeal the varous ameliorative practices and officially indicate that they now voluntarily welcome military recruiters on the same basis as other interviewers. As recently as May 2010, the AALS emphasized that its opposition to [...]

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“He’s big, he’s mean, and he kills lots of bad guys”: The DADT Report

The Pentagon has now released its 256-page report on repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, called formally the “Report of the Comprehensive Review of the Issues Associated with a Repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.'”   I won’t hide the ball.  After reviewing tens of thousands of questionnaires and polling data from active duty service members, interviewing military leaders, analyzing past studies on the policy, and consulting the experience of foreign militaries, the Report concludes that DADT could be repealed with “low” risk of negative effects on the military.  There is a fairly comprehensive “Executive Summary” at the beginning of the Report for you executives out there who don’t have the time or inclination to read the entire thing. And for the really high-flying execs, here’s the key paragraph in the Exective Summary:

Based on all we saw and heard, our assessment is that, when coupled with the prompt implementation of the recommendations we offer below, the risk of repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell to overall military effectiveness is low. We conclude that, while a repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell will likely, in the short term, bring about some limited and isolated disruption to unit cohesion and retention, we do not believe this disruption will be widespread or long-lasting, and can be adequately addressed by the recommendations we offer below. Longer term, with a continued and sustained commitment to core values of leadership, professionalism,and respect for all, we are convinced that the U.S. military can adjust and accommodate this change, just as it has others in history.

I found intriguing one particular part of the report. The expansive survey of active duty personnel revealed that about 50-55% predicted repeal of DADT would have either no or mixed effect on the military; another 15-20% thought it would have a positive effect; [...]

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Light at the End of the DADT Tunnel

The Senate Armed Services Committee has just voted 16-12 to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. The repeal would take effect after the release of a Pentagon study on how (not whether) to repeal the policy and after both the president and Defense Department have certified that the repeal will have no detrimental effect on recruitment, retention, unit cohesion, and so on. The House will vote soon. 

Meanwhile, Republican House members are taking the floor to complain that gay military personnel are trying to push their “overt” sexuality on others “in a bunker where they’re confined under fire,” that they “don’t care” about the military, and that they’re exploiting the armed forces for some kind of “liberal social experiment.”  Perhaps, but it appears 78% of Americans, including a majority of Republicans, are flaming liberals on this one.

UPDATE: The House of Representatives has voted to repeal DADT. The vote was 234-194, with only five Republicans supporting it and 26 Democrats opposed.


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Closer and closer

to a repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Nebraska) has now said he will vote for repeal, Politico reports:

“I don’t believe that most Nebraskans want to continue a policy that
not only encourages but requires people to be deceptive and to lie.
The ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy does just that,” Nelson said. “It
also encourages suspicion and senior officers to look the other way.
In a military which values honesty and integrity, this policy
encourages deceit.”

“I will support the Lieberman compromise because it removes politics
from the process. It bases implementation of the repeal on the
Pentagon’s review and a determination by our military leaders that
repeal is consistent with military readiness and effectiveness, and
that the Pentagon has prepared the necessary regulations to make the
changes,” he said, adding that he spoke with Defense Secretary Robert
Gates about the issue.

“He advised that while he preferred waiting until the study is
completed, he can live with this compromise,” Nelson said.

Add that to pledges from Susan Collins (R-ME) and moderate Democrats Evan Bayh (Indiana) and Bill Nelson (Florida) to support repeal. While some gay activists and analysts have denounced the proposal as too weak because it does not actually require the military to stop discharging gay personnel, that criticism is misplaced. This is a “compromise” that eviscerates the statutory basis for the 16-year-old policy.

UPDATE:  Developments are coming quickly.  The Weekly Standard says that Sen. John McCain is organizing resistance to the repeal, releasing letters from the heads of the military branches opposing it until the Pentagon review of the policy is completed in December.  By then, it would be much more difficult to repeal the policy because a repeal would be subject to filibuster.  Additionally, action after this year would be more [...]

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DADT Repeal Soon?

A deal is in the works to add a repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell to this year’s Defense Authorization bill, the method by which it was originally made law. It’s not clear that the votes are there in the House to do it, and if they aren’t there this year they’re unlikely to be there in the next Congress. It would not be subject to filibuster in the Senate. 

The repeal is limited in one sense. It does not ban discimination against gays in the militery. It returns the status quo ante DADT in 1993 when the president had sole authority to set military personnel policies on gays. The difference is that now the president has promised to reverse the old policy after a study is issued in December on how to implement the change. 

In theory, the next president could reassert the ban. But that’s very unlikely to happen once gays are serving openly. Liberalization of anti-gay public policy tends to be governed by one-way ratchet. Plus, the experience in other countries has been that allowing service by openly gay personnel presents no real problems for recruitment, retention, or discipline, and controversy about it quickly subsides. [...]

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Kagan, the Harvard Ban on Military Recruiters, and Anti-Military Bias

Conservative critics of Elena Kagan, such as William Kristol and Ed Whelan, have focused on her role in trying to prevent military recruiters from interviewing at the Harvard Law School campus because of the law banning openly gay individuals from serving in the military. The critics argue that Kagan’s stance was badly misguided and a possible indication of anti-military bias. I think this critique of Kagan is half-right. She did make the wrong call, but there is no proof that it was caused by anti-military bias.

I. Why Kagan was Wrong.

Like Kagan, I believe that the military’s exclusion of openly gay personnel is both unjust and foolishly prevents the armed forces from using potentially highly qualified personnel. I’m not completely convinced that it’s “a moral injustice of the first order,” as she put it. But I certainly think it’s an injustice of the second or third order.

At the same time, barring military recruiters from campus was not the right response to this injustice, especially in wartime. As the critics point out, it was ultimately Congress and the President, not the military, which imposed the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. Kagan and other law school leaders were in the strange position of boycotting those who obeyed morally dubious orders while giving a pass to those who issued them. Moreover, until they were invalidated by the Supreme Court in 2003, some 13 states still had laws on the books banning “sodomy.” Even if these laws were rarely enforced, that seems a much more severe infringement on gay rights than DADT. Yet neither Harvard nor (to my knowledge) any other law school banned recruiters from those states’ legislatures and other government agencies.

Even more importantly, the military’s unjust policy in this one area has to be weighed against [...]

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