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Flags planted on the Mall for "12,000 Flags for 12,000 Patriots” protest in 2007. At the time, The Human Rights Campaign, which organized the protest, said that the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy had been responsible for the discharge of at least 12,000 military personnel.  (Flickr/M.V. Jantzen; Click for full image)

Flags planted on the Mall for "12,000 Flags for 12,000 Patriots” protest in 2007. At the time, The Human Rights Campaign, which organized the protest, said that the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy had been responsible for the discharge of at least 12,000 military personnel. (Flickr/M.V. Jantzen; Click for full image)

Twenty of the 26 NATO nations allow open military service by gays and lesbians: Great Britain, Australia, Canada, Israel. The United States does not.

Since 1993, U.S. policy on gays in the military has been “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Thirteen thousand servicemen and women have been discharged under that policy. Candidate Barack Obama promised to change it.

So far, it’s unchanged. A new national campaign aims to raise the heat for change. Opponents of open gay service are digging in.

This hour, On Point: gays in the U.S. military, and the fight now over “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

You can join the conversation. Tell us what you think — here on this page, on Twitter, and on Facebook.

Guests:

Laura Meckler is a reporter for the Wall Street Journal

Eric Alva is an ex-marine and a volunteer with the Voices of Honor campaign which will be traveling around the country to put pressure on Washington to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. He joined the marines in 1990, at age 19, and served in Somalia and was stationed in Japan and California for 10 years. In March 2003, Alva’s unit was among the first to cross Kuwait’s border into Iraq for the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Three hours into the ground war, he stepped out of his vehicle and triggered a landmine. His right leg was so badly damaged that it needed to be amputated. He became the first American wounded in the war and the war’s first Purple Heart recipient. Alva retired as a staff sergeant in June 2004.

Julie Sohn is an Iraq war veteran and former Marine Corps Captain. She has been station in Japan, Parris Island, South Carolina, and Falluja, Iraq. She was active duty from 1999 to 2003, and in the reserves from 2003 until 2008, when she was discharged for speaking publically for the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. She now works for the Los Angeles Police Department in its Use of Force Division.

Patrick Murphy has represented Pennsylvania’s Eighth District, in the Eastern part of the state, since 2007. He was the first Iraq war veteran elected to Congress. He served in Baghdad from 2003-2004 as a Captain in the Army’s elite 82nd Airborne Division, and was later awarded the Bronze Star for Service. He is trying to gain enough votes in the House now to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and is working closely with the Voices of Honor campaign.

Dustin Siggins joined the Federal Reserves in 2004, the New Hampshire Army National Reserves in 2006 and the Washington Army National Reserves in January 2009. He graduated from Plymouth State University in 2008. He is 23 years old and blogged about Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, calling it a compromise that worked.

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  • Lilya Lopekha

    Why did we invade Iraq?

    Why did we pull the Brits with us to brake international laws?
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2009/jul/13/baha-mousa-inquiry-opens

    Charles Taylor is under custody right now in The Hauge; why Cheney and Bush are free?

  • Expanded Consciousness

    “Why did we invade Iraq?”

    Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

  • Mike

    off topic but u gotta talk about bruno and the military part of the movie frenken great.

    thanks,

  • Joe B.

    The U.S. military should not be used to carry out “social experiments”.

  • Lilya Lopekha

    The U.S. military should not be used to carry out “social experiments”.

    What Social Experiment, Joe?
    Do you know something that the rest of us don’t?

  • Lilya Lopekha

    Please, please, please
    Whoever is lucky enough to be on the air via the phone…

    Ask the panelists “Why we Invaded Iraq?”
    Do not accept “Hmmmm”, “Maybe”, “Perhaps”, “Probably”

    Regardless of being Democrat, Republican, Green, Communist, Labor, Independent… any elected person or who is good enough to be on OnPoint as an expert, “has to” know the darn Reason; and they should tell the rest of us.

    Or else, there is something wrong here.

  • Lilya Lopekha

    Ask Patrick Murphy to drop everything else and take this as the only purpose of him being elected.

    It is his Job to know Why we invaded Iraq?

    If he does not know, he has to start finding out “tomorrow” through dragging Cheney and Bush and the other 8-9 Clowns and boxes full of paper and evidence to a open and public hearing with one conclusion UNDER OATH: Why we really invaded Iraq?

    No BS, No “I don’t recall” stuff when Lives and legs and arms and billions have been lost.

    This is not a political game anymore.

  • http://www.onpointradio.org Producer

    I am a producer at On Point. Please stay on topic. We will delete posts that are not on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

  • Naomi Winterfalcon

    You ask – Is the country ready to change Don’t Ask Don’t Tell?

    Was the country ready for an integrated military in the 1950s?

    Why are the rights of minority populations subject to popular will?

    The U.S. Constitution gives equal protection to ALL CITIZENS regardless of cultural attitudes.

    Further, the question is not whether lesbians & gays are in the military, since we have always been there.

    The question is how the culture, the nation deals with that reality.

  • diana g

    Dear Tom Ashbrook

    We are a fan of yours, big time. You are the best.

    But, why did you have to say “Operation Iraqi Freedom”?
    It is repeating somebody else’s lie, and it reduces the credibility of this program.

    Diana G, with Wonderful Stealing, Inc. <= trying to make a point

  • Rachelle Tsachor

    Dear On Point,

    Maybe this is the wrong discussion–maybe the discussion should be about sexuality in the military. I don’t mean sexual orientation: maybe it just isn’t professional to be “sexual” on the job.

    There are places where one keeps one’s sexuality to one’s self–pretty much every professional position I know of, one keeps information about relationships, and what goes on in them private. It simply isn’t a part of most professions–people don’t go on about their intimate relations.

    This might solve the whole issue, both of sexual harassment climates, and of people bothered by what others do in private.

  • John

    There are lots of rumors about the Senator from SC.

  • Emily Bernheim

    The military and the country are being robbed on a daily basis of the full talents and courage offered by thousands of gay, lesbian and bisexual soldiers, and potential members of the military, who are driven away or actually expelled due to discriminatory policies.

    Yes, this is a civil rights issue. But it is also a tragic loss and disservice to these soldiers and our country.

    Most of our allies implemented full acceptance of LGBT soldiers in their military long ago, and have had no difficulties whatsoever.

    It is incumbent upon President Obama to ignore political expediency and to lead the country toward basic fairness, even if — or precisely because — it is not popular with certain leaders or members of the public. Where would he be today, if the Supreme Court or other leaders had obeyed prevailing sentiment in deciding whether to racially integrate schools or the military?

  • http://teachingthomas.net Thom

    Why in the 21st century does it matter with whom anyone sleeps with, or how they identify themselves? Our country lags behind the rest of a lot of countries in the world with regards to the rights of it’s military servicemen and women. This is an injustice that needs to be corrected…and another reason why this gay man voted for Obama. If he lets me down, I wonder if I’ll vote for him again in 2012…

  • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

    Maybe we’re looking at this the wrong way.

    Instead of working to integrate gays and lesbians into the military maybe we ought to be working to weed out those who perpetuate hate. My guess is that the worst offenders aren’t just “anti-gay” but also have issues with Jews, blacks, muslims and others.

    If you took those worst offenders out and let more heterogeneity in that might be a bit easier than trying to socially engineer a fast change in attitude.

    I wonder if it would be zero sum or if total enlistment would go up?

  • Thomas Mallon

    Since gays cannot procreate a future for humanity, I think all gays should be encouraged to join and fight openly. I wish they could all be conscripted so that one more heterosexual (who produces the future through normal procreation) would be spared and not have to fight and die and his children mourn.

  • Ellen Dibble

    To the poster who says, “Maybe it just isn’t professional to be ‘sexual’ on the job.”
    “Professions” don’t involve day-and-night contact, with the kind of tree of authority that enforces the kind of collaboration that can face gunfire.
    I’m pretty sure soldiers from year one had girlie ikons convenient and used them for morale. I’m pretty sure once you add “girls” to the military, that doesn’t work quite the same way. Ditto for GLBT.
    So I push the question back beyond whether “being sexual” is allowed. I push it back to: Why are people in the military mature enough to deal with same-sex colleagues but not mature enough to deal with colleagues who are turned on by same-sex people?
    I mean, we grow up in our culture learning about men and women, what sort of goes on. But in many parts of the country, I suspect one can get to the age of majority without any awareness of homosexuality at all. To me, that is the problem. Of course it would sort of derail such a serviceperson.

  • Jinx Nolan

    In the armed forces in England one’s sexuality is known and because of this openness there is not the tension caused by Don’t aks, don’t tell.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Sorry. I mean, servicepeople who are mature enough to deal with “opposite sex colleagues,” not same-sex. Although I know that is a learning curve, to serve with the opposite sex.

  • Todd

    Hey, “Don’t ask, don’t tell” is the rule. Military service is voluntary. If you don’t like it, then don’t join the military. Serving in the military isn’t a inalienable right.

  • Korrie Xavier

    I think it’s interesting that no one is denying that gays and lesbians are currently serving in the military. There are already gay men and women living in the same barracks (and ships) as straight men and women so that argument goes right out the window. By keeping DADTDPDH as law, we’re just living living a lie because it keeps the heterosexuals more “comfortable”.

  • mary

    If most men arre homophobic and therefore should be expected to reject their gay fellow soldiers, then they are also misogynistic as reports say that they seem to abuse women at a very high rate. So, should we disallow women in the military? Also, separating the women from the men in housing doesn’t seem to protect them from harrassment and other abuse, so why would it protect gay men (or women?)

  • Sam

    I was surprised that no one asked Rep. Murphy if he had any personal experience relating to ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ since he served as a JAG officer, the branch of the Army charged with enforcing the regulation.

    I also, felt the bio of Rep. Murphy presented today was a bit misleading, as Rep. Murphy did serve with honor in Iraq as JAG officer, but the bio implies he was a combat officer.

  • Ryan

    Submariners in our great Navy might shed light on the lack of effectiveness/necessity for DADT. With up to 130 men (no women on submarines yet), it would seem that “heterosexual comfort” would be protected at all costs. In reality, our fellow submariners who were openly gay were no more ostracized than anyone else. No one was “beaten,” there were no dangers of unwelcome advances, and we accepted them as brothers as we had with all other submariners.

  • frederic c.

    Hey Joe B:

    Heterosexuality is the social experiment.

    History is replete with examples of healthy homo-sexual pairings.

    The aversion, animosity and violence visited upon homos. by heteros. is a reflection of and in proportion to the homosexual desires of the homo-phobic person.

  • Kathleen Maldonado

    The policy should be “Don’t ask”. We don’t ask potential employees about their sexual orientation in a civilian job interview – you could be sued for that! A person’s sexual orientation is none of the employer’s business. The military’s policies on this topic should focus on ethical behavior and discouraging sexual harassment of any sort, regardless of sexual orientation.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Frederic C said: “The aversion, animosity and violence visited upon homos. by heteros. is a reflection of and in proportion to the homosexual desires of the homo-phobic person.”

    The ex-math-whiz in me likes “in proportion to.” I don’t know if Frederic C has any data to support his statement but I have been trying to assert for decades that people (homophobes) who believe that homosexuals could choose to change to straight must be in a position of choice themselves, therefore homosexual “in proportion” relative to their assertion that there is choice. I never heard anyone else say anything like that, so I’m curious.
    I’m just assuming: If you say someone has a choice, you must have a personally experienced sense of choice about sexuality. Right?
    And I believe there is data about a sort of continuum of proclivity; I think the proportion gets re-sorted somewhat as we age, maybe, via hormones, etc.

  • George

    Would a repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell” be retroactive, to bring some justice to the thousands of soldiers already wrongly discharged?

  • Carlos g

    I agree with some of the postings about being “off-topic”.

    The biggest Don’t Ask Don’t Tell issue is:
    Don’t Ask Why We Invaded Iraq;
    We will not tell you why we invaded Iraq.

    Let’s work on this, and other issues will solve themselves over time.

  • Expanded Consciousness

    “other issues will solve themselves over time”

    Nothing “solves itself” in life.

  • Mike

    the greeks had many gays in there ranks and there were a force to be reckon with. Even alex the great

  • Uzza

    As a Black man, I am tired of hearing your attempts at using our history to justify your cause. I did not choose to be black. It is very normal to be black, being that three fourths of the world population is of color. I was considered by men to be three fourths of a man, yet I possessed the same capabilities as the one who choose to define me as less than a whole man.

    Our arguments and defense was based in basic Christian/Judeo principles “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” We did not ask them to hold us to some special privilege, but to treat us as equals. We did nothing to interfere with their spiritual beliefs, nor did we attempt to alter what was natural to them, for, it was also natural to us. Being a man is being a man. We prayed to and believed in the same Religious principles as our captors, using the same biblical document to make our arguments for change.

    I take offense to your attempts to shame me into agreeing with your cause based upon civil rights! The rights that we march in peace about are not in any shape, form or fashion aligned to the rights that you seek.

    You seek to change a society into accepting your choices in life. To throw history out the window, because you want to do what you want to do, how you want to do it.

    I am prior military. You do not dictate to Uncle Sam. You are His property and under his command. When in Rome, you do as the Romans, are go back Britain and be British. You don’t come in and change the way Rome has been for centuries, just because a little pansy doesn’t think it’s fair! Life isn’t fair! You play by our rules are don’t play! We don’t want you switching and acting any other way than a soldier. Any by the way! You are a soldier 24/7/366, you got that!

    They gave you Don’t ask, don’t tell. You keep pushing and you may get more that what you bargained for, “Tell and don’t go home.” The military needs soldiers. We don’t need to know all the other issues, nor see them. If you don’t like what this military has to offer then stay home!

  • david

    The question here today, do people who engage in unnatural sexual behavior have the right to change the morality of a country? The answer runs far deeper than calling it a civil rights issue. You can call homosexuality any name you want or blame it on anything you want, you can change the law to legitimize it, you can demonize the far right as homophobes and it still will not change the outcome. I thank those men and women who serve our country, but don’t turn your sexual behavior into a civil rights issue. It is a moral issue. Our government has stated it will have separation of church and state. That is a two way street, the church does not dictate to the govt. and the govt does not mandate to the church. So, how can a govt. then take a moral issue that belongs in church and ram its choice on those who believe homosexuality is still and always will be in the eyes of God, a sin! There goes my civil rights.

  • Michelle

    I commanded all of the Jag officers, Patrick Murphy’s bio is misleading, they are not “elite 82nd airborne combat troops, they actually defend the soldieers that are facing UCMJ action.

  • Scott

    The issue is not ONLY about acceptence of gay soldiers. The underlying policies that help the military run and takes care of military families are also at stake. If gay soldiers are required to be accepted in the military then the rest of the government would also be required to accept homosexual relationships. It’s obvious that this is the back door to national gay-marriage policy.

    this issue is NOT the fighting soldier. The issue is military housing, fraternization and individual soldier evaluation policies.

    Congressman said that the 13,000 soldiers kicked out of the military were only admittedly gay- and did not participate in homosexual acts. The standard for a commander to act on allegations of homosexuality MUST include physical proof of a homosexual act. Ask a COMMANDER what the burden would be him/her when some claims to be homosexual (a common tactic to be release from the military), or when a soldier makes a homosexuality claim against another soldier.

  • Ellen Dibble

    I guess anyone can be alleged to be gay or lesbian, so I can see where Scott might be coming from about getting kicked out of the military on plain allegations. How awful.
    But I wonder, say a platoon has one gay, unbeknownst to them. After they have bonded, months later, his sexual disposition is revealed. Everyone feels betrayed, right? Relationships fray, right? He (or she) has to go because it is just too awkward. All the dynamics are now off kilter. Wouldn’t it have been better to avoid that hazard and start on the level?
    Where I live there are many gay and lesbian families with children. Gay marriage is accepted. These people are very glad to be able to stabilize and normalize and watch the unfolding of the next generation in the usual way. If this seems queer to someone, or unnatural, I’d ask if the word “scapegoat” has any meaning to them. There are always about 10 percent such individuals in creation to make sure we aren’t getting too hasty in our judgments.
    People with black skin don’t have a choice (unless they are like Michael Jackson and have lots of money), but then again, black people can instantly recognize each other and come together to make common cause.
    If the GLBTs had to precipitate out of a gathering by mere sight, it would not be so immediate. They have to choose to identify themselves. They can be incognito; it is a blessing and a curse that their variation can be hidden. Who they are, one hopes, “inside,” is solid, not all torn up, wherever they are.
    Their civil rights should not be subtracted from your civil rights. It should add up.

  • http://www.homoschooled.com Lee

    Listening tonight, and as a gay man, I continue to be boggled at how we have always been laden down in semantics before we can even start think about what we want to change socially.

    Despite lives torn apart, this is not about soldiers and war and who gets in or discharged (though this obviously happens), this is about words. Mere words where there should be transparency.

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident.”

    How did we even get here? “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is not a policy at all. It’s what I faced throughout my childhood and into adulthood. It’s called NOT TALKING ABOUT WHO YOU ARE as a contributing member of society — no matter if that’s on enemy soil, demanding the right to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with neighbor and citizen in a conceptual chase of an ideal, or just the playground at recess.

    If I keep it secret, you’ll have no idea I’m gay. I’ll pretend to be in your world. The burden is on me to… hide. How is that a “policy” when it’s a basic fact of life of every gay man and woman growing up virtually all over the world?

    Marriage. Military. The corner bar.

    Where is the gay person today allowed to be him/herself? And do we need policies really, or a new way of thinking when being taught as a youngster? Because let me tell you, they learn pretty early on to say “Oh, that’s so gay…”

  • http://www.Proud2Serve.net Stu Pearce

    I’m gay and I serve openly in the New Zealand Military. My partner is ex-RAF he served for 18 years and is a highly decorated veteran of Afghanistan, Iraq and Kosovo. Our sexuality has never impacted on our ability to serve our countries with honour, dignity, courage and respect. And I’d happily challenge anybody to contradict that statement. Right now we have people like my partner and I serving openly alongside US troops in the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan, in the USA and elsewhere around the world. Why is it I’m okay to serve along side, but people like me aren’t good enough to be recruited into your own ranks? On the battlefield I’d lay down my life for a comrade regardless of whether they were from NZ, the US the UK. Sadly given the attitudes of some in the US, I’m forced to question whether that comradeship would flow both ways. Quite frankly, anybody who is prepared to lay down his life for his country and his fellow countryman deserves the full and uncompromising support of the nation he defends. To my comrades in the USA who have sacrificed their careers defending their country in order to defend their own integrity, I salute you all.

  • Matt C

    I’m 22 years active duty now and unlike Congressman Murphy, actually led men into combat in the 82nd Airborne Division as an officer (three separate campaigns).

    I’ve known 2 homosexuals who have served their 20 years and retired honorably. They were professional enough to realize that the bedroom remained there and Political Activism is not accepted in any form while on active duty (something that Congressman Murphy takes advantage of). I can’t endorse a political thought on my soldiers, neither did they.

    Repealing DADT means that we would agree to allow homosexuals to serve openly, so what! They already do.

    The real question is this: Does the military or any like agency or department then recognize those homosexuals who are already in civil unions with a partner, or wish to?

    Does the military and Veterans Administration then provide all the benefits that a normal military spouse is entitled to a homosexual partner. Housing, Full medical and survivor benefits? And are those retroactive?

    There is a huge cost associated with this.

    DADT is the compromise that allows homosexuals to serve professionally and at this point, only as bachelors.

  • http://www.proud2Serve.net Stu Pearce

    Matt C, just an observation but isn’t there a moral obligation to the provision of Housing, Full medical and survivor benefits? I’m just thinking of what it must be like to be a gay guy in the US military going off to fight knowing his partner, a man kept secret from the establishment, will not be treated as NOK should the worst happen, he may not even be welcome at the funeral. Should a husband, wife or girl friend of a straight servicemen be afforded full support of the military in the event of their spouses death, but in the case of a gay soldier being killed his partner is entitled to nothing? No support, no counseling, not even a phone call. Surely that puts a doubt in the mind of the serviceman that detracts from their primary duty. Personally, if I’m sent to war, I go in confidence that if something happens to me, my partner will be well looked after by the military ‘family’ back home. Should US troops not be given that peace of mind? Like I said, its just an observation. This is your boat, you guys have got to figure out which way you want to row it.

    Stu.

  • Matt C

    Stu,

    The military (as a department of the federal government) only provides these benefits to the legally married spouse.

    A gay serviceman can designate some survivor benefits to a partner though his SGLI (more like a one time payout of a life insurance policy). But it is hardly the same as the full survivor benefits a traditional spouse would receive.

    Asking the military to grant full benefits to a gay partner would mean that a federal agency now recognizes the legality of a gay marriage. We, as a nation, are not there yet.

    I’m not for or against this, I just want people to recognize that there is a much bigger issue here.

    It’s unfair to ask the military to immediately conform to gay lifestyle (to include marriage)

    it’s also unfair to ask a gay servicemember to serve with the agreement that his partner may never receive benefits or entitlements.

    This all has to be worked out before we let Gays serve openly or else the military will be in a legal Conundrum again.

  • http://www.proud2Serve.net Stu

    Hi Matt, doesn’t the US military have armies of very competent very well paid lawyers to resolve legal conundrums such as this? In the UK when the ban was lifted the military were expected to immediately not just accept gays in the ranks but offer them full support. This literally happened overnight. It took a while before attitudes changed, don’t get me wrong, but the policy changed instantaneously. This was before legal partnerships were introduced in the UK by about 6 years if I remember correctly. So how come other countries such as the UK can implement a policy change such as this but the US can’t? As with the UK, creating an environment where competent gay and lesbian service personnel can carry out their duties free from persecution will take time. But regardless of how big an issue this is, the first step is repealing DADT. After that you can figure out how you’re going to get around the legal issues of spousal relationships. But as cheesy a cliche as this is, every journey starts with a single step – that step has to be made and made soon before more loyal and capable servicemen and women are discharged unnecessarily.

    Stu

  • Matt C

    Stu,

    in our nation, it’s not up to the Military Lawyers to make this decision, but our lawmakers (congress and the Senate). Our Federal Government is a long way from recognizing Gay Marriage, nationally or in any federal agency.

    Any discussion of Gays serving openly has to also address the Gay marriage issue and how to handle partner benefits.

    In the UK, does the Military Gay Married Couple receive all the benefits of a traditional family? On post family housing? Does the partner (and children) travel free during duty station changes? Full medical benefits (probably an non issue with nationalized health care)? Were these made retroactive to exsisting partnerships? I’m just curious.

    That’s why DADT is the safe interim step at the moment.

  • Ellen Dibble

    I’m not military; I’m reading with interest.
    To me the Gay Marriage thing seems like a red herring. I’m sure there are people in the American military who are unmarried but who have significant others. How does the legal system handle that?
    Also, I’ve seen documentaries on TV showing that in the American military you can be expelled for far less than sort of flying a political banner advertising the fact, for far less than sort of flaunting a relationship. Is the “proof” of homosexuality that gets someone expelled an actual marriage to someone of the same sex? Or someone’s cell phone photo of two people engaged in The Act?
    And where is the consideration of the cost in morale? People serving in the current American conditions will tend to assume that the de facto legal inequality equates to true inequality of personal worth, and that begins to get onto the slippery slope that can actually demean and diminish people targeted.
    I agree that journeys upward begin with one step. We have one, DADT. Can we have two?

  • http://www.proud2Serve.net Stu

    Hi Matt. Its exactly the same as in the UK with regards to lawyers and law makers. British Parliament made the call to lift the ban, handling this was then delegated to the Service Chiefs through the Ministry of Defence and the MoD’s lawyers then had to find a way of making it work. Initially all that happened was gay and lesbian servicemen were entitled to not be thrown out for being open about their sexuality. At the time, the UK didn’t have (and still doesn’t have) gay marriage. So although gay service members could nominate a partner as a NOK, that individual was not entitled to any of the benefits afforded a married service person. In the years that followed, the UK introduced civil partnerships which are essentially a marriage in all but name. Only after a gay couple have entered into a CP are they entitled to the same rights and privileges of a traditional married couple. A gay couple can’t simply pitch up at the station commander’s office and demand rights and benefits, they have to prove they are legally bound and committed to one-another. After that they are treated with equality.

    As for DADT being safe, I’m not so sure it is. Surely it creates an environment whereby an individual in fear of losing his or her career if found out is at risk of coercion or blackmail? Surely that not only puts the individual at risk but the security of the unit at risk also? The policy is heavily biased against the gay individual, after all, how many people get discharged for ‘asking’ as opposed to those for ‘telling’? How many people at all levels are vulnerable to blackmail as a result of this policy? I would argue quite a few. That’s simply not safe and was one of the key drivers in the ban being repealed in the UK.

    Stu

  • Matt C

    Stu,

    Good info. I’ve always been interested in how the UK has overcome this.

    Ellen,

    It’s not a ‘Red Herring’ Gay Marriage and benefits to partners would have to be addressed. A good portion of the Defense Budget feeds Spouse and Family support. In order to increase that funding in the outyears there would have to be a law that enables the scheduling of that money. And you, the taxpayer, would then start supporting it with your federal tax return.

  • http://www.proud2Serve.net Stu

    Just another observation but if the UK’s experience is anything to go by, you’re not going to get a flood of newly out gay men and women demanding service accommodation and benefits for their partners. If DADT is repealed, many gay men and women serving in the US Military will remain closeted for all manner of reasons. People will come out in their own time and when feels right for them. Then of course, not every gay man or woman is going to be in a committed relationship and therefore have a partner. The proportion of gay men and women who do come out and subsequently ‘demand’ all the spousal rights afforded straight couples will be a tiny percentage of the overall personnel strength of the US military. Any likely costs associated with the provision of additional spousal benefits is likely to be offset by the removal of the legal costs associated with discharging hundreds of personnel every year which I suspect are not insignificant. Discharging a competent and loyal member of the military isn’t just a waste of talent, its an expensive process too. Also for every gay guy discharged, another has to be recruited to fill his boots – and recruitment and training to, say Senior NCO or commissioned officer level is a costly and time consuming process. You can’t buy experience off the shelf and replacing a competent fighter pilot, for example, sacked because of his sexuality, will run into millions of dollars. Potentially, taxpayers could find their contribution to the defense budget reduced as a result of repealing DADT. Just something else to consider.

  • Putney Swope

    To Uzza,
    There was a time when African Americans were segregated in the military. Going by your argument and viewpoint the military, if it had it’s way would still be segregated.

    When Harry Truman changed that regulation a lot of officers up and down the chain of command threatened to quite. Truman called their bluff and told to go right ahead. Not many did.

  • Thomas Mallon

    I apparently share a name with someone who posted on this topic on July 14 at 10:45 a.m.

    I’m an openly gay, moderately conservative man who occasionally writes on topics related to this one. I am sufficiently repelled by the comment left by my namesake to point out that I’m a different Thomas Mallon—lest anyone think his sentiments might be mine. (I am a novelist and critic who writes for The New York Times, The Atlantic Monthly and other publications.)

    I fully support a change in policy that would allow gay men and women to serve openly in the U. S. military.

  • http://www.mediarodzina.com.pl Robert GAMBLE

    I’m an American from Boston, full-time in Poznan, Poland for 16 years now, OnPoint podcast keep me in touch.
    I served in the Navy back in the 1960′s, when it was TRULY “Don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t even think about it!” As a person with mixed feelings, what I missed from the broadcast were the questions that were perhaps too personal, but should be asked to help us of the general public think about the issue: How did the now-openly-gay guests exercise their sexuality? With fellow service members, or all outside? If the policy is changed, how do they visualize the freedom or the restrictions on service members acting out? I would hope they would react that there should be rules, no sex with people under your command certainly, and I hope no sex with people in the same fighting unit. But they should have been asked, to help someone like me think about the issue.

  • http://www.proud2Serve.net Stu

    Hi Robert.

    OK, I know this isn’t about the UK but it may be useful to look to their experiences when allowing gay men and women to serve. Around 2000/2001 The UK MoD published a ‘Code of Conduct’ to essentially back up what is already published in Queen’s Regulations (no punn intended) which applied to both gay and straight personnel at all ranks. In it were the kind of precautions you’ve mentioned – no relationships with subordinates for example. In the end it doesn’t matter whether you’re gay or straight, any relationship within a unit could undermine the cohesiveness of that unit. Obviously in the 10 years since the ban in the UK was lifted there have been occasions where individuals have violated that code of conduct and commanders have acted accordingly but such events are rare and most people know how to conduct themselves.

    Stu

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