Thursday, October 14, 2010

Gays in the Military

A federal judge this week ordered the DoD to halt it's Don't Ask Don't Tell policy.  Admiral Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has already said he is personally supportive of allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the armed forces.

I support the equal treatment of all people, and if the pentagon determines it can integrate homosexuals into our armed forced without threatening national security, then I'm all for it.
(This is an update of a previous article)

My problem with the judge's ruling is twofold:  

1)  It forces the military's hand.  Secretary Gates says he is working the issue, and we should take him at his word.  He has asked for time to get it right, and for the sake of national security and the well-being of all troops, gay and straight, we should give it to him.  We are fighting two wars and dealing with the personal problems that go along with it.  Doing this in a slapdash manner could damage morale, impede our fighting ability, and end up harming the cause of the very people it hopes to help.

2)  The constitutional rights argument is specious.  The military discriminates against women, old people, the handicapped, drug users and convicted criminals.  You surrender many rights when you put on a uniform, including the right to free speech, free assembly, and freedom from search and seizure.  You go where they tell you to go and do what they tell you to do.  You shut your pie hole when they tell you to, and you submit to random drug tests on demand.

A productive debate must be grounded in fact.  Here is some perspective from a veteran.  You may come away unconvinced, but at least you will see how the military is very different from civilian life. 

If it's good enough for the JCS Chairman, It's good enough for me

I'm not a fan of gay sex, but what people do in the privacy of their own lives is none of my business.  Also, I'm a veteran, and I've been in tight quarters with men and women out in the field, and if everybody keeps it professional there's no problem.  BTW, here's combat vet Uncle Jimbo's opinion, and he's way tougher than me:
“If I am lying by the road bleeding, I don’t care if the medic coming to save me is gay. I just hope he is one of those buff gay guys who are always in the gym so he can throw me over his shoulder and get me out of there.”
I agree with Uncle Jimbo, and many other vets do as well. The new generation serving now is even more tolerant, so I am not yet convinced that allowing gays to serve openly will be the calamity that some claim.

I didn't ask, they didn't tell...
I know Army and Navy vets who say that they were in units where it was an open secret that certain troops were gay.  Nobody asked, nobody told, and everybody minded their own damned business.  The closest I ever got to that was the rumor I heard that the Ramstein Dental Clinic was full of gay airmen.  Other than having second thoughts about being put under for treatment, I didn't really care (Hey, I was young and sexy back then...)

The military is a fairly conservative place, but it's not the morally pristine environment some imagine it to be

It is full of people who cuss, smoke, drink too much, take advantage of others who drink too much, commit adultery, steal, and consume pornography.  Libido-fueled swordfights and cat fights take place, and adding gays to the mix will merely increases the number of flashpoints.

The military is different.  Here are some points to ponder as you hear this debate play out:

- Your private life is not always private. You can be prosecuted for adultery or even associating with the wrong people on your off-duty time.  

- You can be severely punished for public behavior that would be shrugged off if you were a civilian, to include showing up to work late, dressing inappropriately and visiting places that are declared off-limits

- Morale and unit cohesion are very important. Lack of it can result in tragic mission failure and even death. This is an important motivator for people to team up despite different backgrounds and life outlooks

- Dress and grooming standards are strict, right down to how you paint your fingernails, how much and what type of jewelry may be worn, facial hair and grooming.

- In a combat AOR, dress codes are strict and unisex: Either you wear your uniform or you wear PT gear.

- In a combat AOR, PDA (Public Display of Affection) is verboten. Private display of affection is too. So basically, not only is consensual sex between a single man and single woman off limits, so is an innocent hand-holding date. Making an unwelcome pass at someone can result in harsh punishment.

These factors cut both ways 
The US military has a critical mission, and distractions and controversies can result in tragic consequences.  The US military is also a very disciplined organization that is adept at getting a diverse group of people to pull together and get the mission done.

* - If I support gay rights, why did I post that graphic? Because it's funny! I also can't help laughing at John Stewart when he's busting on conservatives...


Serving Patriot said...

I'd say this is more about the President giving a kiss to a major special interest in his base... and not really thinking it through all the way. That the culture warriors of both sides will blast away is a wonderful distraction from REAL PROBLEMS and icing on the political cake for both parties.

I do have to agree with Mullen's statement that the heart of DADT is in direct conflict with core military values like integrity. And on a practical note, it is wasteful of human resources to toss service members with high-demand skills, who want to serve, and who are not prejudicing good order & discipline.


Silverfiddle said...

Good analysis, SP. Politics is about distraction, and I don't think Obama has thought anything through (gitmo, trying terrorists in NY, health care, economy, Afghan endgame...)

I want to hear more military opinion on this, but my own sources seem to agree that if done right this won't be the disruption many of my fellow cultural conservatives believe it will be.

KOOK said...

Some very good points made, several I have not thought of before. Thanks.

Leticia said...

As a former military brat, I must concur with your assessment. Gays will have to follow the rules or suffer the consequences, the military does not put up with any kind of insubordination. You do as your told and keep your mouth shut.

However, I do not believe that their civil unions should be recognized. I looked up to all the men and women who were in uniform. It filled me with such pride to see my dad in his army uniform. I saw them as strong and powerful and I felt very safe on post. So it would have been a shock to me as a kid if I were to have seen one of them giving a goodbye kiss to someone of the same sex.

It's all about being a proud American soldier, not a proud gay American soldier. I don't want to know if they are or not.

Am I making any sense at all?

Snarky Basterd said...

There were two guys in my unit who were "quietly" gay. I didn't care. I partied with them. I joked with them. I would have died for them if it came down to it in battle.

But we didn't talk about it, because it was their business, not ours.

And that's the way it needs to stay.

Silverfiddle said...

That seems to be a predominant view among military, younger retired and active.

Grung_e_Gene said...

SF, I do not agree with your adultery analogy because when married people have sexual relationships outside of their marriage, even if they doing so with others who are willing partners, their actions are in violation of a contract they have taken with their spouse.

And the unit cohesion is wrong. Gays serve openly in Israel the readiest military in the world.

And gays being open is not akin to getting into trouble for failing to shave prior to Company PT being lead by the Sgt Maj.

And many states had sodomy laws until the SC struck them down in Lawrence vs. Texas 2003.

Silverfiddle said...

grunge: You completely misread my piece.

Grung_e_Gene said...

Hmmm. Could you please explain the mistakes I made?

It appears to me you are listing possible analogies for why homosexuals should not be allowed to serve openly due to the unusual nature of the military.

Silverfiddle said...

Gene: I can't help it if you can't follow a simple thought process.

I'm actually not coming out against this. I am simply providing extra information about how the military is different from civilian life so my fellow conservatives can make an informed decision.

Did you go read what Uncle Jimbo said? He's ex-SF and he couldn't give a shit about who's gay and I agree with him.

See, you came here with preconceived notions and started arguing with the "religious conservative rethuglican" instead of analyzing what I've written.

I don't think this will cause the problems many fellow conservatives think it will, but it does have to be well-thought out and done right.

Grung_e_Gene said...

No. No I never wrote "religious conservative rethuglican". No where in any post on your blog. I read what you wrote here and wrote that I believe your analogies to be flawed. That's all. Stop trying to castigate me as a wacky Lib or something.

Silverfiddle said...

They are not analogies. An analogy compares something to something else.

My list is a list of factors that bear upon the situation, for better or for worse.

We have gay people serving now, and I want them to serve honorably, not looking over their shoulder because they are breaking the UCMJ.

My ultimate point is that this is not their end game, but a first step to complete legitimacy with a federal imprimatur on whole-hog gay marriage, on par with traditional marriage.

Although that makes me uneasy, my list of factors actually supports the gay site, citing how straits commit adultery and get divorces.

Brooke said...

You raise several good points, but this is something I just can't get worked up about.

As long as everyone keeps it professional I don't care if a gay man or woman is out in the open.

I think they have just as much right to defend their country and hopefully kill some Muslims; after all, they're toward the top of the Islamists list of who to kill.

Silverfiddle said...

I think they should be able to serve as well. I just wanted to put the pros and cons out there from a veteran's perspective.

Funny you should mention Islam. Muslim hatred of gays has actually driven me more to the defense of gay rights.

Anonymous said...

Recently the USAF had a feedback form on the repeal of DADT. I put it bluntly: if gays are openly allowed to serve, then I will subvert this politically correct directive and encourage the NCOs and Airmen that serve with me to do the same, until I am relieved of duty.

The reason for this is if DADT is repealled, a sizeable portion of servicemen have stated they will consider leaving the service. Consider the military without stand-up kind of people. Consider the experience that would go out the door. All to placate some minority behavior group.

People need to think this out to its logical end. With this administration, you can envision the following in the future:

- Percentages of gays serving tracked like percentages of minorities are today
- Extremely offensive "workplace relations" re-education classes for all
- Eventually, quotas for gays in the military (imagine recruiters visiting gay bars to hand out recruiting brochures)
- Stand-up people, like those who read this blog, leaving the service due to moral offense
- Religious materials that condemn gay behavior made verboten at the workplace, perhaps even in base housing
- A flood of alleged "hate crimes" for supervisors stratifying poor performing gays.

That's just a few of the unintended consequences of letting gays openly serve.

I don't want to bunk in tight quarters with a gay guy. I don't want to supervise someone who's sexual behavior defines them.

Silverfiddle said...

Anon: I'm sure you're not the only one. I'm anxious to see the results of the pentagon study. Do you think they will whitewash it?

Aside from Army combat troops saying no big deal, the other thing that swayed me was the Israeli Defense Forces experience with this.

Most Rev. Gregori said...

I personally prefer the don't ask don't tell. As an Orthodox bishop, I believe that homosexuality is wrong and unnatural, but I also believe that what two people do in the privacy of their homes is nobody's business.

Glenn Beck said it best, "Whatever one generation tolerates, the next generation will embrace fully."

Silverfiddle said...

Your beliefs are mine, Reverend.

Our challenge in this constitutional experiment is to thread the needle.

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