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Gays in the U.S. Military

Modifying/repealing "Don't ask,
don't tell" (DADT) during 2010-FEB to MAY-25

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Continued from a previous file

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The debate came to life during early 2010. Some events were:

  • 2010-FEB-03: Dallas columnist has alternative suggestion: Tod Robberson, editorial writer for the Dallas Morning News, wrote in the paper's blog that whether a person is a conservative or Muslim or gay has nothing to do with the job of a soldier, sailor, Marine, or airperson. He wrote:

    "It's not anyone's business, and when you go into the military, you keep your business to yourself. When a commander issues an order, the only thing that matters is that the command is obeyed. Why? Because the functioning of the entire military unit depends on it. The ability to carry out the mission depends on it. Yes, it's dehumanizing and mean, but it doesn't work any other way. And when you accept duty in the all-volunteer military, you accept the strictures that go along with it."

    "Somehow, the military got sidetracked. People started holding prayer meetings and deciding that they were doing God's work. Our post-9/11 mission in Afghanistan became a crusade. Contractors started putting biblical inscriptions on gunsights. Well before that, the issue of gays came up, and the solution was 'don't ask, don't tell.' And now that's being revised because it's been abused."

    "I propose a new policy: Shut up and do your job. Shut up and keep your religion, your sexual proclivities and your political inclinations to yourself. Stop trying to individualize your military service. In the military, you don't represent yourself. You represent your country."

    That is not an easy policy to follow. Many military and military in loving, committed relationships with a person of the opposite sex wear rings, have photographs of their partners, discuss dating, share housing with their partner, kiss them goodbye when they are deployed, etc. Would they be required to keep silent about their relationships?

    Some readers of the article posted comments:

    • "Anonymous&" wrote: "When hets [heterosexuals] also are forbidden to speak of these things or risk being kicked out, then DADT would be a fair situation. As it is, its just stupid bigotry.

    • "mamzic" posted: "The same canard of 'unit cohesion' was used for not allowing African-Americans to serve, women to serve, women to go to the service academies, women to serve at sea, women to fly at all, then women to fly tactical aircraft, etc. Guess what? All have been proved wrong. Just like DADT/anti-gay bigotry will be, as the experiences of the Brits, Canadians, and other countries have shown."

    • "Jeff" wrote: "The following countries have no restrictions against gays in the military: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bermuda, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Philippines, Romania, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, [and] Uruguay ...with no problems..." 1

  • 2010-FEB-14: Dick Cheney speaks on DADT: Appearing on ABC's "This Week" Cheney supports changing the DADT policy to allow gays and lesbians to freely serve their country:

    2

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2010-MAR-18: Senate Committee begins hearings on DADT:

The Senate Armed Services Committee began hearings on whether to repeal the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" regulations.

Retired U.S. Marine Corps Gen. John Sheehan testified that a repeal would adversely affect troop readiness. He said: "In my experience, homosexual Marines create problems in the battlefield."

Retired Navy Adm. Jerry Johnson represented over 1,000 Flag and General Officers who had signed signed a statement in opposition to repeal. He said: "Our best advice was to not change this law and continue the policies that we were operating under." 3

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2010-MAR-28: Change in policy by military:

The Pentagon made a major change to its DADT policy. They will limit the use of third-party accusations when investigating service members. This will make it more difficult for the military to expel gay and lesbian troops who were outed by others. In addition, higher-ranking officers will be given the authority to decide whether a service person will be investigated.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that the changes were needed to envorce the law "in a fairer and more appropriate manner. I believe these changes represent an important improvement in the way the current law is put into practice, above all by providing a greater measure of common sense and common decency for handling what are complex and difficult issues for all involved,"

The changes took effect when they were announced, apply to current and future cases.

Defense Secretary Gates and Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, criticized as "inappropriate" a letter published "Stars and Stripes" by Lt. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, who heads all Army forces in the Pacific. Mullin said: "All of us in uniform are obliged to certainly follow the direction of leadership right up to the president. In the end, if there is policy direction that someone in uniform disagrees with...the answer is not advocacy; it is in fact to vote with your feet."

Col. Thomas Collins, a spokesman for the Army, said that Gen. Mixon’s letter "... didn’t reflect the Army’s thinking or position on this issue."

Alexander Nicholson is a former Army interrogator who was discharged under the DADT policy. He is now the executive director of Servicemembers United, an advocacy group for gay troops. He said that these measures "... are by no means a substitute for full legislative repeal of the law this year, but they are certainly a good start." 4

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2010-MAY-25: CNN releases new DADT poll:

CNN regularly polls a representative sample of American adults and asks them whether they are in favor of "... people who are openly gay or homosexual" serving in the armed forces. Recent polls returned the following results:

  • 2007-MAY: 79%
  • 2008-DEC: 81%
  • 2010-MAY:: 78% 9

In our experience, these are unusually high results for any moral or ethical polling topic. We cannot recall any other question relating to LGBT persons that has this level of support. For example:

  • Support by Americans for same-sex marriage is in the high 40% region;
  • Support for same-sex civil unions with state rights similar to that given to opposite-sex married couples is in the high 50% region.

At these levels, further analysis might reveal that most Republicans, born-again Christians, and evangelical Christians may actually support the end of DADT.

Any political party that goes against the vast majority of American voters on this topic should probably expect fewer votes in future elections.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Tod Robberson, "Don't-ask, don't tell alternative," Dallas Morning News, 2010-FEB-03, at: http://dallasmorningviewsblog.dallasnews.com/
  2. Dick Cheney endorses effort to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell," You Tube, 2010-FEB-14, at: http://www.youtube.com/
  3. Kim Trobee, "Senate begins hearings on 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell." CitizenLink. 2010-MAR-18. at: http://www.citizenlink.org/
  4. Yochi Dreazen, "Military makes it tougher to oust gays," Wall Street Journal, 2010-MAR-26, at: http://online.wsj.com
  5. Michael D. Shear & Ed. O'Keefe, "Obama backs 'don't ask, don't tell' compromise that could pave way for repeal," Washington Post, 2010-MAY-25, at: http://www.washingtonpost.com
  6. Joe Solomonese, "Act now: Congress to vote this week on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," Email, 2010-MAY-25, 7:00 AM.
  7. Richard Land, "Action Alert -- Deal Reached to Overturn Policy on Homosexuals in the Military," ERLC, 2010-MAY-25, 12:57 PM.
  8. P.R. Orszag, letter to the honorable Joseph I. Lieberman, 2010-MAY-24, at: http://lieberman.senate.gov This is a PDF file.
  9. Eric Zimmermann, Poll: 78 percent favor repealing 'Don't ask, don't tell'," CNN Blog Briefing Room, 2010-MAY-25, at: http://thehill.com/
  10. `Senate panel, House approve 'don't ask, don't tell' compromise plan,`CNN, 2010-MAY-28, at:http://www.cnn.com/

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Copyright © 2010 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2010-JAN-28
Latest update: 2010-MAY-28
Author: B.A. Robinson

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