Friday, January 29, 2010

From Reuters:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Pentagon will unveil steps next week that the military will take to lay the ground for a repeal of its "don't ask, don't tell" policy, which permits gays to serve in uniform as long they hide their sexual orientation, officials said on Thursday.

Defence Secretary Robert Gates and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, will present an "implementation plan" to U.S. lawmakers next Tuesday, spelling out measures that the Pentagon will take internally before the White House and the Congress move to change the law.

While I can only imagine that the Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Conway, is currently apoplectic. As reported by the Washington Times this past November:

Gen. Conway has gone further than others in stating his opposition to a change in policy, according to the former official, who has been privy to private conversations on the matter. "He feels very strongly that [removing the ban] would be disruptive, and he opposes it," said the former official.

Here is my question -- what do you think on this issue? As someone with an incalculable respect for those who serve in uniform, and as someone who has never served in the military, I hesitate to decry anyone willing to stand within the ranks. I do, however, have this question:

In 1942 a Vice Admiral in the US Navy decried the suggestion that African Americans be allowed to serve in non-segregated units, arguing that it would destroy unit cohesion and the fighting spirit of the services. I believe that Colin Powell would beg to differ, not to mention William Harvey Carney.

The fact is that there are many homosexuals serving in the armed forces of the United States, whether they are permitted to express their sexuality or not. Furthermore, the stop-loss possibilities of repealing "don't ask -- don't tell" seem to far outweigh the possible issues that it may present in the short term -- something I believe that Lt. Dan Choi has effectively argued in the past.

My question, at long last, is this -- what are the valid arguments against the repeal of "don't ask -- don't tell"? I find the "unit cohesion" issue un-convincing. I also would like as many competent, patriotic people serving their nation as possible, regardless of their race, creed, or sexual orientation.

That being said, I myself am merely a student-observer of military affairs, and I welcome your input and comments on the issue. Please post your comments below!


Beau said...

Well put, Jeff, I agree that it's good to be humble, not being in the military and all. But, while this issue might be politically controversial, I certainly don't think it is "scientifically" controversial.

From Air Force Colonel Om Prakash: “After a careful examination, there is no scientific evidence to support the claim that unit cohesion will be negatively affected if homosexuals serve openly.... Based on this research, it is not time for the administration to reexamine the issue; rather it is time for the administration to examine how to implement the repeal of the ban.’’

He also points out that several NATO allies and other countries such as Israel allow gays to serve openly, which has had "no impact on military performance."

The entire article is here:

Beau said...

I should point out that the article was in Joint Forces Quarterly (Fall 2009) and that the author now works in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

Jeff Schneider said...

Beau -- thanks for all this information!

DevilDog21 said...

Served in the Marine Corps for 22 years and I know that many women Marines were lesbians. I'm sure there were gays, but they weren't open. The Navy had gays who may not have openly said they were gay, but there was little doubt that they were.

Point is, there have been gays in every military unit since neanderthals first joined together to fight off cave bears. I never had any issue with gays, but I'm comfortable in my hetero skin. Those who do have a problem with gays are not. I would guess that most of the younger guys serving today would have no issue with gays serving next to them. Young people in general have just come to accept gays in society.

Eliminating don't ask, don't tell is way overdue. Conway is a homophobe relic, right wing, not-christian who should just retire.

Jeff Schneider said...

Thanks for the input DevilDog21 -- keep giving us your perspective!

Jeff Schneider said...

Though, in your estimation, how much of the push back on "don't ask, don't tell" arises from homophobia as opposed to simply being afraid of change? A

Jeremy said...

I can't wait to see Gays in the Military...Its going to be FABULOUS!

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