I'm a Military Blogger


Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Military Wife's take on DADT

There was a time in my life that I was convinced that "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was protecting homosexuals in the military from the imminent violence that was sure to befall them, should they ever disclose their sexuality. By forcing gay, lesbian, and bisexual servicemembers to remain closeted, it would prevent any hate crimes against them.

Since then, I have both come out as bisexual, and married into the Marine Corps. I've realized that Don't Ask, Don't Tell is not protecting troops from hate crime, it IS the hate crime.

The policy is backwards and it is not working. Someone's sexuality is completely irrelevant to their ability to perform in a combat situation. And yet, here we are in 2010, and proponents of the policy are calling for "studies" and "surveys" to better guage the effects of repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Well I call bullshit.

There have been plenty of studies conducted over the years, to suggest we continue this pattern of never-ending research is nothing but an attempt to stall the inevitable. How many more surveys are we going to conduct?

The military has been studying gays in the service since 1957 when the Navy's "Crittenden Report" came out. The ultimate finding of this report was that there was "no sound basis for the belief that homosexuals posed a security risk."

Despite those findings, the report recommended no change to the dismissal policies because "The service should not move ahead of civilian society nor attempt to set substantially different standards." It seems a lot of people nowadays are in agreement with the Pentagon on this subject, calling for the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" ONLY after gays have been granted the privledge to legally marry their homosexual partners.

I call bullshit on that argument too. The US Military integrated white and colored troops in 1948, a good 7 years before the Civil Rights Movement began. The military was integrated even before elementary schools. The military was *Gasp* AHEAD of civilian society.

In 1988 the Defense Personnel Security Research Center (a DOD agency) conducted yet another survey on homosexuals in the military, concluding that "studies of homosexual veterans make clear that having a same gender or an opposite-gender orientation is unrelated to job performance in the same way as is being left or right-handed." In addition to that, the study found that "the intensity of prejudice against homosexuals may be of the same order as the prejudice against blacks in 1948, when the military was ordered to integrate." That was 1988. This is 2010. GLBT's have become more and more accepted in society since that report, so it's fair to say that the level of prejudice now, 22 years later, is even LESS than it was in 1988.

In 1993 a RAND Corp. study was commissioned under President Clinton, and pulled together the most broad range of data of all previous studies, including the opinions of Active Duty servicemembers, and openly gay troops in other countries. The conclusion of this report was that the policy should set EQUAL expectations on conduct for all servicemembers.

And yet, Don't Ask, Don't Tell doesn't set equal standards. It allows straight servicemembers to be open about their girlfriends and spouses, weddings and children while their gay brethren are forced to either remain completely mum on the subject, or else pretend to be something they are not. How is that acceptable?

How is it acceptable for anyone to support the discharge of able-bodied soldiers on the grounds of their sexuality?

How is it acceptable for the military to baselessly discriminate against one group of people because of their own homophobic shortcomings?

Oh that's right...the GAYS just shouldn't have told. Duh.

More bullshit.

Of the gays and lesbians discharged under this homophobic policy, few of them actually "told" their orientation. Many were outed by homophobes in their own unit who, one way or another, discovered their orientation. One servicemember recently featured in a University of California lecture about gays in the military was outed by his own mother, who notified his command.

Don't Ask, Don't Tell is nothing but a homophobic witch-hunt to "out" the gays before they *gasp* make someone else uncomfortable with their gayness.

"Oh, but we can't repeal it until the economy is fixed."
"We can't repeal it until we're out of war."
"We can't repeal it until we repeal UMCJ Article 125 on sodomy"

Bullshit, bullshit, and more stinking bullshit.

The government doesn't stop running when the economy is down. Likewise, society doesn't stagnate when we're involved in a war. In fact, it seems that in a time of war we should be trying to KEEP troops in, rather than find ways to get rid of them and deplete our own man power.

Now, the UCMJ article is a bit of a different argument. Article 125 of the UCMJ prohibit sodomy or unnantrual sex, including oral and anal sex, for both gays AND straights. But before Don't Ask, Don't Tell, it was used almost exclusively to penalize and dismiss gay soldiers. It's fair to say that in the absence of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, commanders would now be able to discharge gay servicemembers of the grounds of UMCJ violation, and thus Article 125 needs to be repealed/fixed in conjunction to Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

However, until Don't Ask, Don't Tell is gone, there is barely even an ounce of motivation to touch the UMCJ. As long as Don't Ask, Don't Tell is around doing the UCMJ's dirty work, that article is going to remain.

How long are we, as a society willing to wait for the change that is so desparately needed?

Until the economy is fixed? Until the war is over? Until Article 125 is gone? Until gay marriage is legalized? Until there are more fucking "studies"?


This a call to all my fellow military wives, whatever your sexual orientation is. We might not have rank, but we have rapport, and we need to use that to our advantage. Let it be known that Don't Ask, Don't Tell needs to be repealed as soon as possible.

Write your congressmen and women, write the president, write the freaking Pentagon if you must. Speak on behalf of those in the military community who have been forced into the closet and cannot speak for themselves. How would you feel if your husband had to keep YOU a secret? Don't force that same fate on our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters in arms.


Anonymous said...

I am curious how you believe "coming out" it would protect and better our troops with thier JOB/DUTY not thier lifestyle? When you join the military you basically loose your rights, you do what you are told. In the military you act as a unit, and repealing don't ask don't tell will undermine that. You coming out as a bi, is different from your husband coming out. You are not in the military you are MARRIED in the military. Your husband does a job just like all other people in the military. When you join the military you know the rules, if you don't like them, don't join.

Laura said...

@ Anonymous...thanks for not actually reading my post. Not reading FTW!

Not only did I say that being gay doesn't undermine unit cohesion, I cited over 50 years of Pentagon studies showing the exact same thing.

Me coming out as bi has nothing to do with my husband, I referenced it ONLY to explain why I changed my previous opinion on DADT.

Now, I hope you're aware that gays ARE allowed in the military. So a homosexual joining the military is perfectly allowed, on the condition that they remain in the closet, and THAT is what I oppose. The forced closet-ness of DADT.

But if you want to argue about how "coming out" would damage actual unit cohesion and the ability of troops to do their job, instead of asking me to prove otherwise how about YOU prove YOUR position.

You cite me a source (or better yet 50 years worth of studies) that show the damaging affects that gays would have on military effectiveness.


Samantha said...

You pretty much summed up (and might I say with such ooomph!) what I have been wanting to say.

I agree with your post. I was in the military. I worked with plenty of lesbians and gay men. And my gosh, I had to undress in front of the lesbians! Let me tell you, if they were interested, I couldn't tell.
Suzy was dating Jane, but that didn't affect their work. They were business at work just like many of the "straight" couples I worked with.
Sure, they talked about things couples talked about. Nobody seemed bothered by it. If they did, they quietly left or kept it to themselves.
No one was injured and no one was harassed. It's time to make some definite changes.

fancypants said...

I agree with you. I am sick of people saying that there will be problems and people won't be able to work together or they will be afraid that someone is looking at them when they undress. There have been homosexuals in the military since the beginning of time (in the 'closet' and 'out')- and somehow the world didn't come crashing down on us.
Will it be a huge adjustment? of course. Change is hard and we tend to try to avoid it- that is just human nature. But if these same people can put their life on the line for their country, they should be able to adjust to the changes.
It is coming, it is unavoidable. The sooner people accept it- the sooner we can move on and focus on other important issues.

AF wifey said...

AMEN to you!!! and two all the commentors except the ANON commentor! I couldnt agree more! I think DADT is a bunch of BS!

I think it is so sad that gay people in the military don't get the same benefits and straight people... like insurance and such. But I have a feeling thing will change soon.

Anonymous said...

I don't know where I personally stand on this subject - but my husband is in the military and he explains his support of DADT as this:

When women were allowed in the military - separate barracks had to be created to ensure no inappropriate sexual behavior occurred. To ensure those women felt comfortable in their surroundings and jobs as much as possible. If open-gay people are allowed in, then what happens? Do they create sexual orientation related barracks - or do they just tell the straight people to suck it up and get us to having to share close quarters with people that might make things uncomfortable?

I don't think I've said this very eloquently....just a thought my hubby recently shared - and seeing as he is in the military and may be affected by this - felt it was fair to share here.

Anonymous said...

You've done your research, L. And you totally owned "Anonymous" (funny how detractors often never submit their real names).

As a partner of a queer soldier who has to deal with DADT every day, it's painfully obvious to me that all arguments in favor of keeping DADT are about straight people -- not about the people the law affects. Nobody has ONCE given me a good reason as to why keeping DADT will benefit queers.

People say that there'll be backlash against us if we come out, but I said this to the men at the Pentagon and I'll say it again here: Let us deal with that! Bring on the retaliation! It can't be any worse than what we've experienced in our hometowns, in our families. It can't be worse than what we're experiencing NOW. The military has no right to make that choice FOR us.

People are taking their sweet time debating theoreticals -- but none of this is theoretical for we military-affiliated homos. For you as a queer person in a straight relationship (or so I assume because you're hugging a dude on your hp) it must feel strange to you that you could just as easily be in my situation if your partner's genitalia were a little different.

I especially like your thing about military partners having solidarity. I think partners need to have a platform for communication and support WITHOUT the military facilitating -- because their bottom line is winning wars. Their goals match with our goals of supporting our partners a lot of the time, but their bottom line is winning wars.

Anyway, that's my ten cents. Thanks for posting about this.

Steve said...

Your husband is already showering and bunking with gay people. I really hope he realizes that. Ask him about his shower facilities. I seriously doubt they're open showers. He probably either has curtains or dividers. If that doesn't give him enough privacy he needs to grow up.

The simple fact is that he doesn't have the slightest clue what DADT actually does to gay service members and their families. The name is a total misnomer. It's not just about telling, but affects lives 24/7 even when off base. So many things you take for granted are impossible or made much more difficult because of it.

Other countries are far more mature about all this. Both about gay people in the military (the US is pretty much all alone in NATO about this) and men and women serving together. The British in Afghanistan for example have no problem with women sleeping in the same rooms as men if necessary in the field. I've seen a documentary where the women walked around in shorts and bras (the men were topless) because it was very hot.

Anonymous said...

Why don't you join up and then raise your voice? Its easy for the wives of military men to say what does and does not effect a military unit's fighting capability but its unfounded because you have NO clue what you are talking about. Unless your a Marine, Soldier, Sailor, or Airmen -SHUT UP. You don't get a voice in this matter. This is up to the service members ONLY. Their opinions are the ones that matter. Not a civilian pushing an agenda on an organization she's NOT EVEN PART OF. I say BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT. Just FYI I could care less about gays serving in the military - my hot topic is people not serving trying to change those that do. MIND YOUR OWN DAMN BUSINESS.

Melodie said...

Thats the problem isn't it the Service men and women don't get to make that choice. Thats left up to the men and women in congress.