Green Room

And So It Begins

posted at 4:11 pm on March 8, 2010 by

It was Hamlet who exclaimed, when events proved his suspicions about the murder of his father, “O my prophetic soul!”

Readers, you may consider yourselves fortunate that that’s the only line of Hamlet’s I intend to invoke here.  It is apposite, however, because events have begun proving my predictions from last year about what it would mean to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in the US military.

Repealing DADT isn’t about gays serving.  They already serve.  Repealing DADT is about gays telling.  It’s about achieving endorsement of homosexuality, and gay activist agenda items, through both military regulation and military culture.

I made the point here, and will make it again, that it is not possible for the military to merely “tolerate” openly-avowed homosexuality, in the way civilians think of tolerating it.  What the military does now, with DADT, is tolerate homosexuality.  It officially doesn’t ask, and doesn’t even want to know, unless one servicemember’s activities create a discipline or readiness problem.  (As many people correctly point out, there are a whole lot of ways of creating discipline problems, and junior enlisted personnel ingeniously push the envelope on all of them.  It certainly isn’t just gays who sometimes create discipline and readiness problems.)

What the military does under DADT is more analogous than not to what you do – you civilians, in your civilian lives – to tolerate homosexuality.  DADT was designed and intended to prevent people’s sexual orientation from becoming an issue on which there had to be confrontation, for either individuals or the institution.  It was intended to keep the military out of the business that repeal will inevitably get it into:  the business of taking sides on the issue of homosexuality.

The military operates wholly on affirmative policy.  That means that it either approves things or bans them; there is no neutral state, if the thing at issue is officially acknowledged.  The military is, moreover, a “lifestyle” organization, meaning – as servicemembers themselves say – it owns you 24/7.  It can’t tell you what to think, but it tells you what to act like you think – and it metes out punishment (in performance evaluations and advancement as well as military justice) to those who don’t act like they think the institutionally required things.

The military also welcomes your spouse and children and offers them a host of support services.  And as veterans of the “military family” know, that comes with a whole regulatory and cultural environment of its own.  One four-year hitch may not be enough to familiarize a young spouse with this truth, but any military wife, husband, or child of a career servicemember would validate it.  From housing to recreation to exchange retail services to the post chapel, if the military acknowledges homosexuality at all, it will have to have affirmative policy regarding endorsements and recognition, and/or regulation, of people’s behavior.

Are you aware that the military has explicit regulations covering cosmetic tattooing?  It doesn’t prohibit cosmetic tattooing (e.g., having your eyelids permanently darkened) for female service personnel.  So it regulates the practice – just as it regulates hair length and style for all servicemembers, the jewelry with which they can adorn themselves – both while in uniform and, in some cases, while out of uniform – and how they keep their fingernails.  It also regulates, of course, their weight and body fat content.

The military offers religious ministries for recognized religions.  But if your religion isn’t a major, recognized religion, the military doesn’t offer you services.  It has an affirmative policy on that.  In fact, its policy has been under challenge from Wiccans, some of whom claim status as a religion and have demanded recognition by the military.

The military has an affirmative policy on what it will sell in the exchange retail system, including men’s magazines and where they will be displayed.  It has affirmative policies at every major base regarding personal behavior, including “public displays of affection,” or PDA, at the recreational facilities (ballfields, swimming pools, hobby shops).  It has policies on where males and females can gather together and where they can’t.

And in its personnel evaluation systems, it assesses servicemembers explicitly on their energy in, and aptitude for, upholding the services’ policies against social bias.  Today, the military requires no affirmation from servicemembers, for their tolerance of homosexuality to be tacitly assumed.  If DADT is repealed, and homosexuality openly acknowledged in official military policy, the basis will then exist for gay servicemembers to complain if others do not affirm them, in whatever ways the military – and Congress, and the courts – arrange.

This is how it will play out, and we are seeing the first signs of it already.  Allahpundit wrote week before last about the “disinvitation” of Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins, from a devotional speaking engagement at a prayer luncheon on Andrews Air Force Base, reportedly due to Perkins’ “recent public comments” about repealing DADT.  As AP said, it’s hard to find any “recent public comments” from Perkins that would seem to warrant a disinvitation from a devotional event for political reasons.

But that’s how things work in the military.  And the truth is, you want them to work that way.  It’s not the military’s job to host speakers from both sides of every issue it might become embroiled in.  That’s time-consuming, eats away at leadership’s working hours, it’s inherently political anyway, and it’s just not what the military is there for.  Congress, the Heritage Foundation, the Center for American Progress, the New York Times, Glenn Beck’s show, Hot Air, HuffPo – all that messy political stuff is what they exist for.

So the military tries to head off at the pass any prospect of becoming embroiled in inherently political disputes.  It knows full well that gay advocacy groups will make it a political issue if someone who is known to oppose repeal of DADT is a specially-invited speaker at a military-hosted prayer luncheon.  So rather than let the whole thing become a political mess, the military takes preemptive action.

This is what the military is going to do at every decision point.  Get used to it.  If DADT is repealed, your military will be endorsing things you would vote against.  It will be endorsing things you would keep your kids away from when they’re done in public.  And it will become the battleground for gay advocacy groups wanting to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act, which provides that the federal government recognizes only traditional marriage, and that traditional-marriage states need not recognize gay marriages concluded elsewhere.

The challenge to DOMA is already being mounted as part of the military study on repeal of DADT.  It had to be.  This had to happen, and it was easy to foresee long ago, which is why I predicted it last year.  Gay partners will of course demand the same family services and acknowledgment of relationships that traditional families get in the military.  And of course, the Defense Department will be governed in this matter by DOMA.  Changing what DOD does will mean gutting DOMA or getting it overturned.  However the issue is handled, it will become a precedent for every other federal agency and all the states, and is likely to generate a flood of new lawsuits.

Keep in mind, none of this will be about military readiness or the ability of anyone to do his job.  Those have been the issues at the heart of the political confrontation over women in the military.  Women are smaller than men and not as physically strong; there is justification for being concerned about their ability to do some jobs.  Women also get pregnant and present a specific discipline and readiness concern that doesn’t arise without their presence in forward-operating units.

The big difference between “women in the military” as an issue and “open gay service” as an issue is that the former is about readiness.  The latter is just about official recognition of sexual orientation.  There is no question gay men and women can do any military job that other men and women can.  The central question with proposing to repeal DADT isn’t readiness at all, it’s politics.  It boils down to whether the military will be required to recognize and endorse homosexuality.  DADT allows the military to be neutral, and servicemembers to avoid declaring their sentiments one way or the other.  If it is repealed, neither will remain possible.

And one final note is that that’s not because of what the military is.  It’s because of what America is.  If the US military could acknowledge homosexuality and yet also allow others in the ranks to believe it’s wrong and refrain from endorsing it, or even just allow them despise it, shy away from it, or crack jokes about it, as young men in particular often do, there would be no problem.  That’s how some other militaries come to terms with open homosexuality:  they let straights who don’t want to endorse it go their own way.  This means – yes – gays sometimes get their feelings hurt.  It may even mean they are discriminated against unofficially, by seniors who base judgments about them (e.g., regarding promotion) in part on their sexual orientation and lifestyle.  The seniors may even be right – as they are likely to be, much of the time – and they aren’t then second-guessed as an institutional operating principle, or assumed to be wrong or to have unlawfully discriminatory “thoughts” in their heads.  (None of this means gays have no recourse against being assaulted, of course; they have that because they are human beings, not because they’re gay.)

But we don’t do it that way in the USA.  The reason repealing DADT must mean the military will put its institutional imprimatur on homosexuality, and require everyone in uniform to demonstrate fealty to the military’s affirmative endorsement of it, is that in the USA, we coerce institutional closed-mindedness by not only punishing thought and speech with litigation, but actively seeking thought and speech to punish.

You may have the courage, personally, to defy a Senate investigation and a bank of activist lawyers – but you wouldn’t if you had the military in your charge, and your main job was being ready to fight and win America’s wars.  If you were in that position, you’d roll over; you’d do whatever it takes to fend off the political circus-freak show and concentrate on readiness, operations, and the job you signed up for.  If your conscience wouldn’t let you make the affirmations America’s political culture now extorts at gun-point, you’d serve out your time and separate from the service.

It’s not the military’s job to fight back against America’s political leaders.  That’s your job.  I recommend undertaking it armed with knowledge.  Pay attention to what the gay advocacy groups are demanding, and watch the military react.  Understand what the advocacy groups want to do, and remember how defenseless the military has been in the past, against political correctness enforced by ending the careers of long-serving officers.  The fear of punishment for breaching political correctness is what gave us the fiery death of Navy Lieutenant Kara Hultgreen – the aviator who should never have been allowed to continue in the carrier pipeline – and the jihadist massacre by the Army’s Fort Hood shooter, whose personnel jacket glowed neon-red well before his attack last fall.

Political correctness is inherent in military culture.  What the American people decide is what its precepts are.  Please think well before you decide on this one.  This isn’t about gays serving; they already do, and for the most part with honor.  This is about gays telling – with everything that may imply.

Cross-posted at The Optimistic Conservative.

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Yup. Repeal of DADT is the same thing as turning gays into the next new politically correct protected class of military servicemen. Every bit of protection they will get with that will come at the expense of every other military personnel. Charges of homophobia will institute the same measures that charges of racism and rape do. Automatically considered true and the accused must prove a negative, AKA guilty unless proven innocent.

The military will be forced to accept gay marrieds from the state(s) that allow same sex marriage, and since they will not be allowed to discriminate, that means the military will likely have to allow gay marriage to occur on base, and when those newly weds go back to their home states, they will force those states to recognize their marriages and will likely win in the courts. This will take less than 4 years to force nearly every state to recognize same sex marriages.

Of course, I also contend that my first paragraph means that it will negatively effect our military might.

astonerii on March 8, 2010 at 5:43 PM

This is a very salient point, and well expressed.

I keep seeing in my mind’s vision of the future, a USMC uniform with a pink triangle patch, right under the American Flag patch.

Will there be new medals, like Distinguished Service in Combat while Gay?

Where the hell is this so-called Commander in Chief taking us?

Brian1972 on March 9, 2010 at 11:50 AM

Excellent post but we really don’t need to read beyond:

It’s about achieving endorsement of homosexuality, and gay activist agenda items, through both military regulation and military culture

katiejane on March 9, 2010 at 12:12 PM

It may even mean they are discriminated against unofficially, by seniors who base judgments about them (e.g., regarding promotion) in part on their sexual orientation and lifestyle

Excellent point. After serving 22+ years, I can guarantee you that if DADT is repealed, there will be EEO complaints flying all over the place the very first time an openly gay member does not get that Early Promote on their eval or gets passed over by any selection board for advancement/promotion. And if those EEO complaints are not ruled on the “PC” way, Congressmen will be invloved also.

Johnnyreb on March 9, 2010 at 12:12 PM

Best piece I’ve ever read on this… you should try to get it printed in the Washington Times(or Examiner) or maybe even the WSJ….

ninjapirate on March 9, 2010 at 12:13 PM

New US Army Motto – “Never leave your buddies behind!”
.
My Viet Nam Veteran buddy sent me this new U. S. Army motto along with a new patch design for the 69th Fighting Sodomites. This site has the news release and patch illustration.
.
Some Vets don’t like this development in the least! This is something else unpopular for the Øbummer administration to force upon the exasperated and now-weary American voter.

ExpressoBold on March 9, 2010 at 12:32 PM

I would like to take it one step farther. They don’t want to just “tell”. They want to demand. Demand that you accept their sexuality. It is agenda driven, not “rights” driven.

One thing that gay folks just don’t get: seriously, we don’t care. Really. we don’t. It’s boring if you want to know the truth.

Who cares that you are gay and have sex with others of your own sex? You do. A lot. And it’s getting tedious. So we, the straight folks just trying to survive the bigger issues like the take over of this Country would like to see you join us and just stop waxing on about your sexuality. We get it and just don’t care who you have sex with.

If you are discriminated against in the civilian workforce or in another capacity and a law prevents that, we are all for enforcing the law. But the whole Gay Pride thing is simply tiring already. Again, we get it. You’re gay. What do you want, an award? A cookie? A hug?

Opposite Day on March 9, 2010 at 12:52 PM

Damn.

Mr. Dyer hits the bullseye. I don’t think it possible to state the issue for the military in other way.

BobMbx on March 9, 2010 at 12:55 PM

Excellent article. Being in the military isn’t like having a normal job. Spot on.

Abelard on March 9, 2010 at 12:58 PM

ninjapirate on March 9, 2010 at 12:13 PM

Could not agree more.

pannw on March 9, 2010 at 1:08 PM

JE, the current law means that simply mentioning that you’re gay to the wrong person gets you booted out of service. I think that’s a problem. So long as your behavior meets expectations why should it matter that people are allowed to admit what they know anyway?

Certainly there are regulatory implications about this, but if you admit that being gay doesn’t impact the work that you can do why should it matter? People in the military already have to be around things they find morally objectionable. And? So long as their behavior is in good order, why should it matter?

Our guys would cope, I think. And I really doubt we’d see people leaving the service en masse.

TheUnrepentantGeek on March 9, 2010 at 1:15 PM

The military is not like any other job, that is true.
But even in all other jobs, we don’t allow people to ramble on about their sexual choices with co-workers that don’t want to hear about it without risking a lawsuit on the basis that the workplace was sexual charged therefore hostile.
Why do they want to make the troops adhere to a policy of “sexual openness” that the rest of the population would not want for themselves.
What women wouldn’t complain if their gigalo co-worker kept reminding people he’s straight and on the prowl?
Sexual orientation campaigns are not acceptable banter for any workplace.

LeeSeneca on March 9, 2010 at 1:17 PM

It can’t tell you what to think, but it tells you what to act like you think – and it metes out punishment (in performance evaluations and advancement as well as military justice) to those who don’t act like they think the institutionally required things.

Unless you are a Muslim freak like Nidal Malik Hasan. Then you are rewarded and promoted. Just sayin…

yubley on March 9, 2010 at 1:19 PM

Our guys would cope, I think. And I really doubt we’d see people leaving the service en masse.

TheUnrepentantGeek on March 9, 2010 at 1:15 PM

The implication given here is that they won’t have a choice in the matter if they find something immoral about homosexual behavior and somehow let that be known.

I made a similar point in the headline thread about the minister being uninvited, that if we’re to treat homosexuality the same way we do ethnicity, then uninviting the man is completely appropriate. After all, we’d never find it acceptable that a military chaplain is teaching everyone that being black is somehow immoral.

Still, I believe this is the future anyway. Just like with homosexual marriage, they only have to win one vote to make it law, while people who are against it, have to keep winning vote after vote.

Esthier on March 9, 2010 at 1:26 PM

So we, the straight folks just trying to survive the bigger issues like the take over of this Country would like to see you join us and just stop waxing on about your sexuality. We get it and just don’t care who you have sex with.

If you are discriminated against in the civilian workforce or in another capacity and a law prevents that, we are all for enforcing the law. But the whole Gay Pride thing is simply tiring already. Again, we get it. You’re gay. What do you want, an award? A cookie? A hug?

Opposite Day on March 9, 2010 at 12:52 PM

+100
I am getting so sick of the homosexual community trying to force me to ‘like’ & ‘accept’ them.
I will never like or accept you bcs you’re gay.
I will choose whether I like or accept you bcs of other things.
As a human being, there are certain courtesies that you will get from me.
In the workplace, you will get the respect of your position & perhaps more if you are a pleasure to work with.
But don’t ask me to approve of your lifestyle bcs I never will.
It is disgusting to me.
Mind your own business & keep things to yourself.
I do not discuss my sex life with anyone in public, why does the gay community want to force these discussions on us?!

Badger40 on March 9, 2010 at 1:31 PM

The implication given here is that they won’t have a choice in the matter if they find something immoral about homosexual behavior and somehow let that be known.

I made a similar point in the headline thread about the minister being uninvited, that if we’re to treat homosexuality the same way we do ethnicity, then uninviting the man is completely appropriate. After all, we’d never find it acceptable that a military chaplain is teaching everyone that being black is somehow immoral.

Still, I believe this is the future anyway. Just like with homosexual marriage, they only have to win one vote to make it law, while people who are against it, have to keep winning vote after vote.

Esthier on March 9, 2010 at 1:26 PM

Sexual orientation isn’t really the same thing as ethnicity and never has been, IMO.

Ultimately the only truly visible way one exhibits itself is via conscious behavior. And people can control their conscious behavior.

It is possible to believe that certain behaviors are morally wrong without condemning a genetic predisposition to those behaviors.

TheUnrepentantGeek on March 9, 2010 at 1:32 PM

I do not discuss my sex life with anyone in public, why does the gay community want to force these discussions on us?!

Badger40 on March 9, 2010 at 1:31 PM

I think most gay people in the service would like to have the ability to talk about the person waiting for them at home without the fear of losing their job.

Or at the least, not have to worry about someone finding out about it because of something they said.

TheUnrepentantGeek on March 9, 2010 at 1:34 PM

Our guys would cope, I think. And I really doubt we’d see people leaving the service en masse.

TheUnrepentantGeek on March 9, 2010 at 1:15 PM

Maybe, but as a former Army spouse, I agree with the synopsis here.
The military would have to treat homosexuals as a separate entity.
That is just too much.
The military is not saying you can’t be gay, they are saying they don’t care & don’t want to know.
Sex between a man & a woman are frowned upon in the military if it’s between an officer & enlisted.
Adultery I believe is a punishable offense & how often does that happen?! A lot, I know.
This needs to be left alone. It will only cause trouble & do nothing but make some gay people feel special about themselves & cause a lot of other trouble besides.

Badger40 on March 9, 2010 at 1:36 PM

I think most gay people in the service would like to have the ability to talk about the person waiting for them at home without the fear of losing their job.

Or at the least, not have to worry about someone finding out about it because of something they said.

TheUnrepentantGeek on March 9, 2010 at 1:34 PM

Well I knew gay people in the Army & they talked about their personal matters with people that were their friends & confidants-not their XOs.
Are you a former spouse or service member?
You can be gay & happy in the military now.
But you don’t need to broadcast it, just like a man cheating on his wife while overseas etc shouldn’t be trumpeting about all the extrmarital afairs he’s having.

Badger40 on March 9, 2010 at 1:38 PM

Political Correctness will neuter our military. The most powerful fighting force in history will be brought down by lawyers and lawsuits.

infidel4life on March 9, 2010 at 1:38 PM

condemning a genetic predisposition to those behaviors.

TheUnrepentantGeek on March 9, 2010 at 1:32 PM

Biologically has not been proven that being gay is a genetic predisposition.
You cannot say that at all with any certainty. I have been watching this in genetics.
No one knows.

Badger40 on March 9, 2010 at 1:40 PM

Our guys would cope, I think. And I really doubt we’d see people leaving the service en masse.

TheUnrepentantGeek on March 9, 2010 at 1:15 PM

You are correct about people not leaving en masse, but only because they all have a wide variety of service commitments/enlistments and can’t “just leave’. I assure you retirements will go up (less likely to stay beyond minimum to retire), retention will go down (reenlistment will decrease) and recruitment will suffer.

Repeal of DADT will eventually hurt military readiness on a grand scale and you will not be able to recruit enough homosexuals to make up the difference.

jwp1964 on March 9, 2010 at 1:40 PM

Sexual orientation isn’t really the same thing as ethnicity and never has been, IMO.

That may be your opinion, but that doesn’t mean the military will agree with you. That’s the whole point of this article, I believe.

It is possible to believe that certain behaviors are morally wrong without condemning a genetic predisposition to those behaviors.

TheUnrepentantGeek on March 9, 2010 at 1:32 PM

Maybe so, but, again, that doesn’t seem to be something that the military will support, as this article is written.

Besides, we’re not talking about people who are simply predisposed towards certain behavior but those actually engaging in it and doing so openly. If this article is correct, and the military will actually be endorsing homosexuality as an amoral lifestyle choice, then it doesn’t sound as though they will tolerate chaplains who do not consider the lifestyle an amoral one.

Esthier on March 9, 2010 at 1:41 PM

Biologically has not been proven that being gay is a genetic predisposition.
You cannot say that at all with any certainty. I have been watching this in genetics.
No one knows.

Badger40 on March 9, 2010 at 1:40 PM

I don’t know for sure, but I suspect that it is. I can’t fathom why someone would rationally chose to limit their dating pool more than necessary.

TheUnrepentantGeek on March 9, 2010 at 1:42 PM

Honestly, this is what the whole gay agenda about, not just DADT. We already tolerate gays and you can’t go to jail for “sodomy” anymore.

What the gay agenda is about – what gay marriage is about and what gay “rights” is about – is endorsement. It’s not about tolerance. It’s about getting the government on their side and then using that as a bludgeon to force people to accept homosexuality as a morally neutral choice. A vast majority of people already tolerate gay, but what gays want is acceptance. What gays want is a government balm for their moral conscience.

This whole game of government recognition is a ruse to get that. DADT is just a part of that whole game.

Excellent post, because the military is already trying to be neutral and already practices true acceptance. Repealing DADT is acceptance and endorsement. Gays know this and that’s why they are pushing for the repeal.

johnmackeygreene on March 9, 2010 at 1:45 PM

While I don’t support the repeal of DADT, I think the writer made a cheap shot at Lieutenant Hultgreen.

Blake on March 9, 2010 at 1:46 PM

Badger40 on March 9, 2010 at 1:38 PM

Calm down, Badger! How about getting out of those clothes and relaxing with me in the hot tub? Smooch!

Blake on March 9, 2010 at 1:48 PM

Repeal of DADT will eventually hurt military readiness on a grand scale and you will not be able to recruit enough homosexuals to make up the difference.

jwp1964 on March 9, 2010 at 1:40 PM

Why? You think guys that already know some of their buddies are gay will quit because now those same people can mention it?

Well I knew gay people in the Army & they talked about their personal matters with people that were their friends & confidants-not their XOs.
Are you a former spouse or service member?
You can be gay & happy in the military now.
But you don’t need to broadcast it, just like a man cheating on his wife while overseas etc shouldn’t be trumpeting about all the extrmarital afairs he’s having.

Badger40 on March 9, 2010 at 1:38 PM

Then it sounds like they’re already violating DADT and just fine with it. But if their superior officer happens to overhear them you think that’s an acceptable reason to kick someone out of the service? This is not the same as getting on to a PA system to talk about who you’re banging. It’s not about broadcasting, it’s about not having to hide something.

That may be your opinion, but that doesn’t mean the military will agree with you. That’s the whole point of this article, I believe.

Doesn’t meant the military will agree with you and JE either. And?

Besides, we’re not talking about people who are simply predisposed towards certain behavior but those actually engaging in it and doing so openly. If this article is correct, and the military will actually be endorsing homosexuality as an amoral lifestyle choice, then it doesn’t sound as though they will tolerate chaplains who do not consider the lifestyle an amoral one.

Esthier on March 9, 2010 at 1:41 PM

Presumably our troops can drink. Is there some prohibition on chaplains who say you shouldn’t drink or condemn alcoholics?

Same deal. If some freedom of opinion and conscience needs to be codified so be it, but I don’t see why JE’s argument necessarily follows. Acceptance is not endorsement. If the whole point of the DADT policy is neutrality that would seem to be a more neutral position.

TheUnrepentantGeek on March 9, 2010 at 1:51 PM

Because guys doing guys (or hot girl on girl action!) is a positive moral good. We need a lot more of it.

In fact, we’d be better off as a nation if every last one of us was assless-chaps homotastic. We have the technology to keep producing offspring (if we really want to). Everyone will be “family”. There won’t be any more divorces. No more misunderstandings. And oh, the comedy! Because gay people are always more funny and well, gay.

Yeah, Kant was right. This whole categorical imperative thing is pretty useful.

The time is now. We all need to go gay for the sake of our nation. Think of the children!

spmat on March 9, 2010 at 2:12 PM

the current law means that simply mentioning that you’re gay to the wrong person gets you booted out of service. I think that’s a problem. So long as your behavior meets expectations why should it matter that people are allowed to admit what they know anyway?

TheUnrepentantGeek on March 9, 2010 at 1:15 PM

There are about 150K people serving in the active military and I found estimates of 6500 being gay/lesbian. A little over 400 members were booted last year under the DADT guidlines. Hard to say whether any of those removals were as a result of other issues.

It would appear that there is no wholesale drumming out of gays & lesbians.

katiejane on March 9, 2010 at 2:23 PM

It would appear that there is no wholesale drumming out of gays & lesbians.

katiejane on March 9, 2010 at 2:23 PM

Well yeah, because they’re careful. I don’t understand why they should have to be.

TheUnrepentantGeek on March 9, 2010 at 2:24 PM

Doesn’t meant the military will agree with you and JE either. And?

No, but then you’re not talking about the article. You’re talking about your personal view of DADT and the military.

I don’t know how the military works, but the author here does seem to have a better idea than I do. Maybe you know better than both of us. Either way, I’d like to talk about how the military will react, rather than how I think it will or think it should.

Presumably our troops can drink. Is there some prohibition on chaplains who say you shouldn’t drink or condemn alcoholics?

I don’t know. Wouldn’t it be helpful to know? Besides, while I assume people can drink, I don’t assume people can be alcoholics. It would be absurd to care about BMI but not abuse of alcohol.

Same deal. If some freedom of opinion and conscience needs to be codified so be it, but I don’t see why JE’s argument necessarily follows. Acceptance is not endorsement. If the whole point of the DADT policy is neutrality that would seem to be a more neutral position.

TheUnrepentantGeek on March 9, 2010 at 1:51 PM

Unless JE actually knows what he’s talking about, in which case, DADT was the neutral option. You’re talking in complete hypotheticals but haven’t actually brought any evidence that the military won’t act the way he’s said it would.

Esthier on March 9, 2010 at 2:33 PM

It’s about time some voices were raised in opposition to the repeal of DADT.

There is a big difference between being tolerant and acting tolerantly toward homosexuality and being forced to institutionally endorse it and enforce sanctions against those who dare to disagree. This is a massive wedge designed to weaken the military and promote homosexuality nationally. The people pushing this repeal don’t want to be accepted. They want to force us to kneel at their lifestyle altar and burn incense.

Better let your Congresscritter know there is opposition to repeal. Do it now.

DaMav on March 9, 2010 at 2:38 PM

Well yeah, because they’re careful. I don’t understand why they should have to be.

TheUnrepentantGeek on March 9, 2010 at 2:24 PM

You assume they’re “being careful” – more likely only the ones who are militant discipline problems end up getting the boot.

katiejane on March 9, 2010 at 2:40 PM

UnrepentantGeek — The issue is that it’s not just about servicemembers being able to quietly admit they’re gay. That, of course, is how advocates of repeal present the issue, but it’s a false picture.

If we supposed there were 6K gay servicemembers in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard, there might well be 5,975 of them who just wanted to be able to say, “I’m gay” and leave it at that.

But the other 25 who sued to have their partners recognized as “spouses” for the purpose of military housing, who demanded that they be able to have same-sex weddings in military chapels, who accused their seniors of discriminating against them regarding qualification and promotion because they’re gay, who accused their seniors of creating a hostile work environment if the seniors failed to sufficiently privilege Gay Pride month, who accused their fellow servicemembers whose religions prohibit homosexuality of unprofessional bigotry and intolerance, and who demanded the right to engage in romantic displays in base facilities frequented by other servicemembers’ children because straight people are allowed to do that when they’re out of uniform — these 25 would outweigh the other 5,975 by a wide margin in terms of the impact on the military and the work time of military leaders.

If you haven’t read my long piece from July 2009, linked in the piece above, I recommend reading it for a summary of incidents and lawsuits in state and local government, in the private sector, and in foreign militaries. Everything I suggest might happen already has happened, in other organizations — and those organizations include fire and police departments and foreign militaries.

I note also that the majority of dismissals for cause that involve a servicemember being gay do not happen because someone who was trying to stay under the radar was outed involuntarily. Without overstating the number of gays in the military, I can tell you that many who’ve been in the service have known or been pretty sure that someone they served with was gay. In a small unit or department/division it may be an open secret, although again, it’s important not to overstate the prevalence of it.

It becomes an issue if the gay servicemember makes it one. That’s how it almost always works, and having served for 20 years as an officer, I can tell you that “making it an issue” usually involves one of two things: unwanted advances toward a fellow servicemember, or the servicemember himself (or herself) choosing to make a gay declaration, typically in the first enlistment if the member is looking for a way out.

Now and then the famous cases erupt, of mid-grade officers deciding to out themselves as political acts, or senior NCOs being “caught” when someone happens on their internet or other social activities. (The military investigative services don’t look for such things because “Don’t Ask” means don’t ask. The military isn’t running around trying to find out whom its soldiers have sex with. Problems in that area of life have to intrude on the workplace and the command environment for the military to take an investigative interest. The only prior presumptions that they will involve seniors/juniors and members of the same unit.)

The truth is that the military’s policy under DADT is as close as a top-down institution can get to the level of social tolerance America has for gays today. The American people have voted consistently to affirm traditional marriage and avert the imposition of same-sex marriage wherever they can, and as LeeSeneca says, we have a common sense that the workplace isn’t the right place to make revelations about our sex lives. The people reserve their right to pick and choose which manifestations of gay behavior they allow their children to see. Some people are comfortable with more, some with less. Who is any of the rest of us to prescribe how much other parents should be comfortable with?

Yet repealing DADT would open the door to lawsuits and political demands, to impose on the military what American society reserves its right to tolerate by keeping its distance, by turning away at the moment that feels right to the individual, by switching the channel or not choosing some books at the library or avoiding certain streets downtown at certain times of day.

LeeSeneca’s point brings up one other good one. The military leaves much to the discretion of its leaders, in the workplace, the unit, the command. The leaders do create a certain environment, and if sailors were talking “indigo blue” in a workplace I had leadership in, I’d tell them to “take it somewhere else, guys,” and they’d do it (i.e., just get off the topic until the work was done). I wouldn’t lecture them about the presence of anyone else (e.g., “Don’t talk that way in front of women”), or belittle their topic or even show any interest in it. (“Don’t encourage them.” We’re almost always talking young men under 25 here.)

But the reason this works is that everyone tacitly accepts the same set of understood rules, which includes the discretion of the senior. Senior says, in effect, “I don’t want that in my workplace,” and it’s gone.

Now consider the question of the gay sailor who marched in a gay pride parade this past weekend. He has photos of himself with his buddies and they’re decked out in thongs and feathers. He wants to display them in the workplace. After all, his shipmate gets to display a photo of himself and a bunch of buddies in jams on Bondi Beach, from the WESTPAC deployment he just came off of. But some other shipmates are offended by the photos from the gay pride parade.

What’s the right thing to do here? It’s a very good bet that someone will be unhappy no matter what the senior decides. If the senior truly had the same discretion as before, that would be one thing. But he won’t. The gay sailor has recourse to asserting a privilege that could well be enforced by political or legal intimidation of the chain of command.

Common sense tells us that photos of men in thongs and feathers at a gay pride parade have a sexual subtext that isn’t present in photos of shipmates having a beach party in trunks. But could lawyers establish a basis for asserting that the disallowing of the gay photos was an improper, discriminatory use of the senior’s discretion? Of course they could.

The command itself might well end up having to make a rule about such displays. Limit the senior’s discretion in the workplace to try to ensure against accusations and lawsuits. An intimidated chain of command has led to bad consequences in the past, and it undoubtedly would again.

Much bigger issues than this would arise; this is just an accessible example. Another whole fruitful area for recruiting plaintiffs would be how military justice might deal, from case to case, with heterosexual versus homosexual misconduct. Any differences at all in the handling of cases by COs, regardless of justification, would be automatically suspicious from the “litigate everything and see what shakes out” perspective.

There is no question that repealing DADT will usher in lawsuits, and invite a whole new area of politics into unit-level leadership. The concerns I’ve outlined are why the military adopted DADT in the first place, and why it takes a study to determine how to implement open gay service.

J.E. Dyer on March 9, 2010 at 3:07 PM

And? So long as their behavior is in good order, why should it matter?

Our guys would cope, I think. And I really doubt we’d see people leaving the service en masse.

TheUnrepentantGeek on March 9, 2010 at 1:15 PM

Therein lies one of the major problems with open gay-ness.

[I'm going to be completely candid here, so fair warning to all who would be offended by a candid discussion of the occasion of aversion to homosexuality.]

Being openly gay, as many of my former gay acquaintances will atest, involves an entire culture of behavior that is often intentionally outrageously contra-normal, which includes open sexual advances and crude language intended to shock and seek out others with potentially latent homosexual tendencies who have been closeted lo these many years. When asked outright about this they gleefully opened up with more detail and information than I really cared to receive. However, as a person who has made human nature, and human behavior and interactions, a special interest over the years, I was too intently interested in a deeper understanding to shut it out.

I’m not kidding about the outrageous behavior being intentional. From Cape Cod’s Provincetown, fondly referred to locally there as “P-Town”, to Key West in the Florida Keys, to the lovely old victorian homes communities in Sana Ana and other Southern California hamlets, to the infamously out and outrageous displays in San Francisco, the gay communities revolve around fully developed cultures of outrageous behavior intended to create an obvious distinction separate from so-called normal humans and their behavior, and also involving an underlying and quite prominent sexuality orientation.

And every single male heterosexual that I’ve been acquainted with or been closer friends with over the past forty plus years, who has in any way addressed or acknowledged the existence of homosexuality, has expressed such a visceral aversion to even the thought of such gay relationships and people that it has quite taken me aback at times.

Finally I asked some close friends to explain this reaction if possible, because it has at times happened with physical backing away from openly gay people in its expression. I won’t delve in detail into the answers here as it would be inappropriate, but suffice to say that it truly is, for many heterosexual males, a physical revulsion, akin to a revulsion (and this was described to me) at the thought of accidentally bumping physically into someone who has hideously open weeping sores all over their body.

And lest anyone jump to the conclusion that this may have been role-modeled to those hetero men, let me assure you that they each insisted that this was a reaction from an early age, and not at all role-modeled. They called it “instinctive”, or genetic, responses to what was perceived as contra-normal.

And yet, within the military environment, with DADT in practice, the intentionally outrageous behaviors of the homosexually aligned males becomes muted and/or self-restrained, which makes the environment more of a neutral zone and takes the pressure off the heterosexually aligned males in that it reduces fears of being hit upon by those whose sexual orientations are unacceptable. Which, it would seem, leaves everyone freed up from the underlying sexual tensions to be able to concentrate on what their true purpose is as members of an active military, which includes watching each others’ backs and working together according to the commands given. They are able to be soldiers, sailors, whatever, first, and all else is extraneous and non-essential to the tasks at hand.

Take away the neutral zone protections and allow an openly gay culture to overwhelm the system is like having a frog gently being constrained under your hand, then suddenly removing your hand and watching the frog go bananas as its leaps and jumps pell-mell insanely all over the place, bumping into things and knocking itself and anyone around it silly.

In some ways the restraint that DADT places on the military environment is similar to that which many organized religions help to place via moral guidelines on basic human nature, which is to screw like crazy in order to propagate the human species. It is so instinctual that over the millennia nature has preserved it genetically for the survival of the species. Which is why we as a civilized society try to instill some knowledge of self-restraint and proper behavior in our young and newly sexually-mature people. Hedonistic lifestyles are, ultimately, the choice of many. Yet those who seek a more ordered lifestyle which includes the joys of exclusive relationships which involve having children find that the moral guidelines and restraints offered through organized religious are an important addition as a lifestyle choice.

When taking into account all of these factors, trying to find a proper balance is a monumental challenge. To take a very minor segment of the population and allow its culture to overwhelm such a necessarily strictly structured environment such as the military, would if only as collateral damage potentially destroy a successful working model.

And yet given as much as I’ve learned, I have no answers for this dilemma. But I do know that in a world where there are extremely active terrorist cells intent on destroying America and all Americans, on top of natural disaster victims needing aid, I, personally, would find it hard to justify changing or eliminating DADT and rendering a workable defense, security, and human aid force to a level of being nearly useless in the paralysis that would ensue when attempting to open up and absorb such a completely different openly contra-and-potentially-unstabilizing culture.

Just my two cents, and offered as such. Busy day, won’t be able to engage in active debates, but feel free to offer counter-opinions and perceptions.

KendraWilder on March 9, 2010 at 3:56 PM

It becomes an issue if the gay servicemember makes it one. That’s how it almost always works, and having served for 20 years as an officer, I can tell you that “making it an issue” usually involves one of two things: unwanted advances toward a fellow servicemember

How will the military deal with this after the repeal of DADT, do you think?

They don’t have a good history of dealing with it already.

dogsoldier on March 10, 2010 at 7:39 AM