Gays in the Military


Recently, with the election of President Obama, the subject of gays in the military has garnered attention again. Currently, by law, the military follows the policy of “Don’t ask, Don’t tell, Don’t pursue.”  That is, the military no longer asks potential recruits if they are gay, and if the servicemember doesn’t announce that he or she is gay, the military won’t pursue allegation that they are in fact gay. The application of this policy is of course, often flawed. There’s no such thing as a perfect policy.

I’m curious what my readers think of allowing gays to serve openly in the military. Should we scrap DADT and go with a policy allowing openly gay soldiers to serve? Should we keep DADT? What are some of the practical problems with either option?

We supported the pre-DADT policy on prohibiting gays to serve. And we came to realize that DADT was not the end of the Republic.

Our concern with gays in the military has never been about gays per se. It has been about the ability of military units to form cohesive teams with high esprit de corps.  This is absolutely critical to success in combat.  It may or may not be fair to exclude gays from the service, but the military isn’t about fairness, first and foremost. It is about winning.

In our own experience, we believe that openly serving gays would have had a very disruptive effect on units and hurt the ability of teams to perform at their peak. The military serves under conditions that few other occupations impose. The close quarters of both garrison and field duty, let alone combat, mean that you are cheek by jowl with your co-workers not only during duty hours, but off duty time as well, to an extent that most people can scarcely comprehend.

Our service began almost a quarter century ago, and ended over a decade ago. It is quite possible attitudes towards gays in the public sphere have changed a good deal in the interveneing years. I see a lot of older folks decrying any attempt to allow gays to serve. I also see quite a few mid to senior NCOs and mid-grade officers with the same stance.  But  I’m seeing an increasing number of junior servicemembers who think the current policy is outdated and should be scrapped. I’m also starting to see some numbers of mid- to senior-level officers who think gays should serve openly.

We have an open mind on the topic right now. Our concern is not social justice, but what is the best way to fill the ranks with motivated servicemembers who can fight and win.

Now comes Argent, a longtime friend of our humble blog. He has a definite viewpoint. He is openly advocating for  gays to serve openly in our military, and has started a blog to promote that. It is intended to be a venue for serious discussion of the topic, so please stop by and see what he has to say.

Argent, also known as Aaron, is an interesting character. He’s Australian, openly gay, and has never served in any military. But he is a robust supporter of the military, both his and ours. And he is self taught enough to have a good grasp of most military concepts, even if he doesn’t know the inner workings and the exact feel of the culture. But most interestingly, he also wants to not only  advocate for gays in the military, he wants to give the gay community a better understanding of the military. He sees his task as building a bridge between what are essentially two separate cultures. As we have seen our task here as helping the public better understand what their Army is all about, we can certainly support the latter endeavor wholeheartedly, even as we are undecided about the former task.

So, where do you stand? Take the poll, and leave your comments. I’m interested in hearing from servicemembers of all branches and grades, of course, but I’m also deeply interested in hearing from the civilian community (it’s your Army, after all) and from the gay community. It’s an emotion laden topic for many, so I’ll ask that you please keep a civil tongue.

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31 Comments

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31 responses to “Gays in the Military

  1. GaigeM

    Repealing DADT has just too many detrimental effects on not only unit cohesiveness at what might be called the “tactical level,” but the culture of the military in general.

    I also happen to think that the gay anti-DADT movement are just pawns, probably unknowing pawns but still pawns, of the anti-American Left and their efforts to weaken the American military.

  2. Larry Sheldon

    What does “openly” mean?

    Seriously, what does it mean?

    Are heterosexuals in mixed-sex organizations allowed to be “openly” heterosexual?

  3. Larry, it’s a fairly easy question. Do we have to play word games just to get your honest opinion?

  4. Larry Sheldon

    “Do we have to play word games just to get your honest opinion?”

    I don’t see any games–I really don’t understand what the issue is, or what the terms mean.

    But let me tell you what _I_ think the issue is, if it turns out, in my ignorance, to be offensive, I am truly sorry and my defense is that I have for some time been trying to find somebody who will deal in facts, and not euphemisms.

    It looks to me like “openly gay” means “making out” on the grinder, blow jobs in the showers, anal orgies in the bunk rooms, and what ever else it is that they do (I, at 3-score and ten plus, do not actually know “what ever else” means).

    In short, the sort of behavior we do not permit a heterosexual couple (or group?) to participate.

    So. I think the answer to my original question (actually, the third of the three of my original questions) is: No.

    Heterosexual couples are not allowed to be “openly heterosexual”–the queers are demanding privileges we don’t ( and shouldn’t) enjoy.

    • Undecided

      Larry, to find ‘ignorance’ or ‘offensiveness’ in how you view what ‘openly gay’ means; I find none. I think you have made some valid points/arguments to your definition. Just because someone has put a ‘label’ to what they think the true meaning of openly gay means doesn’t mean it can’t be looked at or viewed in other ways (just as you did in concerning a military point of view) and it would be ignorant to say there is only one meaning to this definition when discussing a sensitive subject such as this, its def a slippery slope. My husband and I had this discussion not to long ago, will gays now be allowed to walk arm and arm together. Will we see them holding hands, making out? And by the sounds of how the DADT policy is now, its quite possible they will get away with a lot that heterosexuals can not.

      I know that I am coming into this blog a bit late, but I am currently a student and am doing an argumentative essay on allowing gays in the military. My essay is going to reflect the cons to allowing gays to serve ‘openly’, if you will. I was currently looking for sources for my essay and happened across this blog and found the article very interesting. Even though my essay is going to reflect why allowing gays could cause problems, I wanted to note that I am not totally against it. My husband is currently in the military, so I am supporting his views on the issue. And I wanted to point out some of my thoughts on potential issues/problems, which in a way resemble your definition.

      Even though the military is still keeping the current policy of DADT; we dont ask, but yet gays can now tell. So any sexual harassment issues (among a man and woman) go straight to Equal Opportunity (EO) but with the DADT it has to go through the chain of command. Makes no since to me…its contradicting in a way, almost racist now against a man and a woman. Not sure if I am completely understand the policy now.

      Another issue is when the military are deployed, especially to a combat zone, they have open heads and showers…and when showering, these guys are, lets say in a nice way, butt to belly button. They could turn to reach for the soap and are brushing against each other with their tally wanks. It upsets me to think that having gays allowed to openly shower next to my husband or any other straight guy they have to be the ones to suck up feeling uncomfortable and violated. It isnt right! All the while gays are getting their fill and taking advantage of the straight guy, (ie: raping with their mind).

      How about sodomizing? It was once illegal in the military, but I suppose we have to accommodate for the gay guy. Gays can room together but yet co-ed is still not allowed. Separating the men from woman was in place for a reason and yet they dont feel separation among gays should fall under that same rule? Bit unfair, dont ya think? My list can go on, but Ill stop here because I do have a paper to attend to.
      Thanks for letting me share some thoughts. You’ve made some really valid points Larry! Cheers!

  5. Larry, I’ll presume you are working from a position of ignorance.

    An openly gay person is one who has no problem admitting to those around them that they are gay. Currently, openly gay persons are prohibited from serving.

    It doesn’t mean they can engage in lewd behavior in public spaces any more than straight people can.

    If you want to argue that allowing openly gay people to serve would likely lead to lewd behavior, you may do so, but please try not to be offensive about it. This is a family blog. My family reads it. A little edginess is fine, but vulgar isn’t.

  6. Larry Sheldon

    “Larry, I’ll presume you are working from a position of ignorance.”

    Good assumption, since I’ve said so at least twice here.

    “If you want to argue that allowing openly gay people to serve would likely lead to lewd behavior, you may do so, but please try not to be offensive about it. This is a family blog. My family reads it. A little edginess is fine, but vulgar isn’t.”

    I’m beginning to feel unwelcome. First you say “Larry, it’s a fairly easy question. Do we have to play word games just to get your honest opinion?”, then you hit me with this. You can’t have it both ways.

    In closing, I’ll just say that I long for the days when you could talk about things without this irrelevant (it usually turns out) intrusion.

    Were are we on the requirements for number of restrooms required?

    I am really tired of the subject.

    I don’t see any need for the strident declaration of “orientation” every time I turn around.

    I don’t care what you do, nor who you do it with as long it isn’t in my face no matter what I want to do.

    I’m out.

  7. Larry Sheldon

    Go ahead and delete anything that you wish you hadn’t asked for.

  8. Larry, you are more than welcome to comment here. You’ve skirted on the edges of acceptability here, only in terms of language. I just don’t want any obscenity.

    I’m guessing we can put you in the “no, gays shouldn’t serve” column. And that’s fine. We are all allowed our opinion. And as I’ve said, I’m undecided. I’m trying to get a feel for what others think.

  9. Larry Sheldon

    I said I was out of the discussion, but you found the one thing I can not let go unanswered.

    “I’m guessing we can put you in the “no, gays shouldn’t serve” column.”

    As an alternative approach, should you have a few spare moments, is to step aside from your preconceived notions and actually read what I wrote.

    Which, paraphrased, is:

    I don’t care what you do, nor who you do it with as long it isn’t in my face no matter what I want to do.

    Oh, wait. That is is exactly what I said.

    Dang.

    Let me try another tack….

    I don’t want to hear about at church, I don’t want to hear about it in formation, I don’t want to hear about on the mess deck, I don’t want to hear about it when I am trying to read a book about physics, I don’t want to hear about anywhere anymore–I am burned out on the topic.

    Want to talk about how to do the job? Fine. Let’s talk.

    What to talk about how to make a pizza? Fine. Let’s talk.

    Want to talk about plans, strategies, and tactics? Fine. Let’s talk.

    And so and so forth through a surprising number of things I like to talk about.

    But let’s not talk about your reproductive equipment, what you did with it, or with whom you did it.

    I A M N O T I N T E R E S T E D !

  10. Potosi Joel

    “But let’s not talk about your reproductive equipment, what you did with it, or with whom you did it.”

    This is an even more radical departure from current practice than before. I can’t believe an organization which would terminate a senior NCO or junior trainee for attempting to infuse warrior like spirit by bragging about his masculine virtues* or even her venereal stamina or agility** would long remain able to produce effective soldiers.

    Maybe the new product would be less likely to offend the stray civil servant, reporter, or girl scout who happened through the squad bay, and maybe their company would be more welcome amongst the countless staff who organize the minutia of the business and political worlds, but I doubt they would form the type of bonds amongst themselves or with their leadership one currently expects amongst US fighting forces– said bonds having been frequently cited as the basis for effectiveness on battlefields far removed from polite society.

    On the other hand, w.t.h. do I know?
    Let the Air Force try it, and see how it works.

    *as they are occasionally referred to in polite company, or at least that company which still admits of the possibility of masculine virtue and strives for civility.

    **as “venereal virtue” is generally considered to be of a distinctly non-warrior-like trait, we must change more than pronouns!

  11. Yeah, I’m pretty sure if you took the average rifle squad in the Army or Marines and let them sit around for 30 minutes, sex would eventually become a topic of discussion.

  12. chockblock

    The problem is that while society claims to be ready, they are not. While gays are accepted if they are attractive and famous (Megan Fox claims to be bi for example). The public is still uneasy about homosexuals. Many male stars come out of the closet and then vanish from public view or become marginalized.

    While fighting two wars in the midst of the worst economic climate in decades, gays will have to bide their time. It may come, but they are going to have to lobby congress instead of expecting any occupant of the White House to end DADT.

    The left forgets that wishing for something to happen is not the same as making it happen.

    But then again the real world and the left are rarely acquainted.

  13. Thanks XBradTC, as you can see it can be difficult topic but it’s not really one that can be ignored. I appreciate you took the time and flak for doing so.

    The issue of how openly serving gays will affect the functionality of the US military is important and there are some good arguments on how it could be disruptive. There are also some good augments about the benefits.

    Larry being ‘open’ simply means being honest about your sexuality. In the same way heterosexuals are. Most of the time there is no difference between serving gays and straights. In practice this open issue shows up where sex is talked about or where your partner becomes involved much like heterosexual partners of the military become involved. It’s not about fantasies from the porn industry.

  14. Larry Sheldon

    [Background--I was an enlisted person in the USN in the late 1950's. I served in the Civil Air Patrol in the 1970's and 1980's (CAP is (was) an Auxilliary of the Chairforce and California Wing had close connections with the ANG.]

    I’d like to know what the big deal is. Using the definitions given here and derivatives of the ones I got chewed-out for, there have been homosexuals in the military for a long long time.

    And by the way, I am as about as “straight” as they come, and that barracks BS made me uncomfortable and it annoyed me that I could not escape it. The most annoying part was probably the knowledge that it was BS–them as can, does; them as can’t talk about it.

  15. MikeD

    Brad,

    In my opinion, we’re almost there for openly serving gays. I was in 92-97, and I KNEW some of the guys I served with were gay. I didn’t care, but I knew they were. The problem isn’t really with guys like me and Larry… there ARE still guys out there that would be horrified and angry if they found out one of their platoon preferred guys.

    Strangely enough, there are guys who’d be pissed if they found out their medic, or one of the MPs was a lesbian. A smaller number (guys are more accepting of lesbians… probably because we can somewhat relate with their preference of women), but some folks (male and female) are still disapproving of lesbians.

    The fact is, DADT currently gives enough plausible deniability to gays currently serving to protect them from folks who would be overtly hostile. But we’re not far from the day when it won’t be necessary. But for now, it’s still a better policy than we had when I signed up (hell… they even asked me if I was ever a member of the Communist party when I enlisted).

  16. MikeD

    One other thing, what Larry’s talking about is PDAs (before those stupid Blackberry things existed). And it was considered unprofessional and unbecoming for anyone to engage in public displays of affection in uniform. A Marine LCpl buddy of mine chewed out an Army Captain who was glomming on to his wife/girlfriend/significant other in the AAFEEs cafe. And they Captain basically had to take it, because he was in the wrong. He was pissed, but since my buddy was respectful, the Captain was duly chastened.

  17. I think Larry is also talking about the bull sessions where folks talk about their “conquests” and what not. And I can see where people would be made uncomfortable (that’s an insight I certainly didn’t have during my service), even in an all male environment. With the current climate against sexual harassment, you’re far less likely to hear that sort of thing in mixed company.

  18. Larry Sheldon

    The major point that Larry is talking about seems to beyond Larry’s capacity–here is Barry Goldwater making the point (he was right about a lot of stuff):

    “The only thing that mattered to Goldwater was whether a soldier could shoot straight. ”

    I’ll let you work out the quotation priority chain.

    http://ace.mu.nu/archives/288757.php

  19. virgil xenophon

    There are more subtle aspects to this–of which I’ve noted before at Neptunus Lex on this topic. If “gays” are allowed to serve openly, what about times when sexual activities ARE permitter–like kissing one’s partner at midnight on New Year’s Eve at the O/NCO club? How do you think THAT will go over? Or what about married housing? What does a Mother tell her children when they ask: “Mommy, why are those two men hugging each other on the front-porch swing next door?
    You know, “little” details such as that.

    Those who advocate a policy of openness usually point to surveys showing increasing acceptance of gays by active duty types. But this growing acceptance takes place within a
    DADT environment. NO ONE can predict what reactions will
    result from open displays.

    and YOU CAN BE SURE that the old saw that: “What the law does not expressly forbid it eventually promotes.” Legal challenges will inevitably lead to forced sensitivity seminars and the use of hidden quotas for promotion of gays much as is currently being done for women.
    Already we have the Superintendent of Annapolis stating that “diversity” is his number one priority. Once gays become “legal” they will become part of that legally protected and promoted species–both thru political pressure from their allies in Congress and via the Courts.

    It will not be a pretty picture–and will drive away some of the very people the service most needs to retain.

  20. Larry Sheldon

    “and YOU CAN BE SURE that the old saw that: “What the law does not expressly forbid it eventually promotes.” ”

    Never saw that saw.

    But I can bore you the rest of the evening recounting things where making them illegal has promoted them in was that Madison Avenue can only dream of.

    Volstead Act.

    War on Drugs.


  21. virgil xenophon

    Well Larry, under your theory of human psychology all laws expressly outlawing murder should be done away with as they only serve to promote, spread, and increase the frequency of it, n’cest pas?

  22. Larry Sheldon

    Do you have an clear and incontrovertible evidence that laws against murder have had any effect on murder rates?

    As compared to having a something promising and delivering instantaneous retribution?

  23. captain

    So, you don’t allow able bodied men to serve because they’re gay… but throughout history (Romans, Greeks, Etc) they helped conquer, lead, fight, and build the modern world.

    This whole stigma thing did not arise until one religion dominated the world, followed by the second largest.

    Societies were not always so anti-gay. Not until the purges, inquisitions, claims of it being against God, etc. Too bad the Roman Republic fell the way it did – the modern world would be quite a bit different if there had been no assassination of Julius Caesar.

    But hey, what does any modern person care about the perversion of the past and what they are fed from birth. Rah rah, etc, hooray for the status quo.

  24. Larry Sheldon

    I’ve lost track. Who is the “you” in “So, you don’t allow able bodied men…”?

    Among my arguments is one that they (homosexuals) have served since the 1950’s at least–I was there where they ewer.

  25. Alex Q

    Ok, I’ve got a point here. About 50 years ago blacks weren’t allowed to serve integrated with whites. They thought that they would cause a collapse of the unit and esprit de corps would suffer . . . People got over it.

    Thinking that if someone is homosexual they will be actively chasing other men or women in their unit is the result of a complete misunderstanding of human behaviour, seriously does anyone think that just because they have a different attraction to you that they’ll behave differently?

    A good example would be to look at two guys in a very tight unit such as AF Para Rescue, NAVY Seals, Force Recon, Green Berets, Rangers, ANGLICO etc. Imagine you have two guys in one of these units who discover that one likes asian women and the other just can’t resist latino ladies. Are they gonna be disgusted with eachother, stop working together…is the entire fabric of the units morale going to untwine and collapse around them?
    In that situation there is one kind of person who would have a problem and that kind of person is called a bigot. In this example if the rest of the platoon was made up of ignorant intolerant individuals … like white supremists then there would be a bit of a problem.
    If a guy in a unit likes ‘bigger’ girls that some others wouldn’t go near they would probably make some jokes but they would get over it and tackle the job at hand.

    DADT is unethical and insulting to those people in the military as it assumes that those men and women don’t have the capacity to understand or correctly handle people who are different to them. In the current state of the world the armed forces role is increasing one of peacekeeping or rehabilitation of another nation with an entirely different culture. As such, the last thing the military needs is to have its ranks filled with people who are intolerant of a way of life that is different to their own.

    I think people need to relax, take a breath and grow up.

  26. Pingback: Zealous Toward Social Harmony

  27. Jim

    I’m looking at this from a logistics point of view. Right now, we use common showers and group living arrangements (i.e. the “circus tent” full of cots, or at larger RE bases/posts B-hut/dorms) as is women and men have to have seperate facilities and cannot be allowed to intermingle, in most places in the AOR even to the extent that they cannot enter the opposite sex’s quarters without permission, and an escort, or in the case of the Air Force, at all under pain of losing rank of more. If gays were allowed to openly serve we’d either have to have seperate quarters for everyone (to be fair and maintain morale and goo discipline) or fully integrate all genders/sexual preferences (Starship Troopers style) now, while I’m all for the boob to wang ratio in my shower/tent increasing…. I don’t see it happening any time soon. And the simple logistics of keeping everyone apart is currently impossible to work.

  28. Jim

    also, a bit of a typo up there. I meant “good”, not “goo”…but honestly, could be that too.

  29. Portlandic

    How has allowing gays into the military worked in Holland and other nations? I’m fond of evidence.

    If the sky has not fallen where it’s been allowed, then start with the Army Medical Corps, then Intelligence, Aviation… you figure out what the priority is, but Infantry should be the last. Other branches? USAF and USCG should precede USA, USN and The Corps.

    I know several damn fine gay, lesbian and trans vets who should still be in and serving, and a general ‘no hanky panky except off-base’ policy should be adequate. An IR-capable surveillance system in barracks would prevent BS complaints.