Don't Ask, Don't Tell—You Know Its Days Are Numbered When…

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…the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff says they are. In an op/ed in the New York Times, retired general John Shalikashvili, who served as chairman between 1993-1997, writes:

Last year I held a number of meetings with gay soldiers and marines, including some with combat experience in Iraq, and an openly gay senior sailor who was serving effectively as a member of a nuclear submarine crew. These conversations showed me just how much the military has changed, and that gays and lesbians can be accepted by their peers.

This perception is supported by a new Zogby poll of more than 500 service members returning from Afghanistan and Iraq, three quarters of whom said they were comfortable interacting with gay people. And 24 foreign nations, including Israel, Britain and other allies in the fight against terrorism, let gays serve openly, with none reporting morale or recruitment problems.

I now believe that if gay men and lesbians served openly in the United States military, they would not undermine the efficacy of the armed forces. Our military has been stretched thin by our deployments in the Middle East, and we must welcome the service of any American who is willing and able to do the job.

Shalikashvili argues that there are more urgent problems that need to be addressed first, so he wants to take a "measured" approach to welcoming gays into the military. Discrimination against gays in the military is just wrong. However, if policymakers do insist on taking a "measured" approach, then military commanders should at least stop drumming gays who are currently serving out. 

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  1. 15 years ago I got to watch a debate on this topic where the general (retired I think) arguing for keeping gays out of the military stated that it was merely a temporary thing as the military preferred to be on the back end rather than the forefront of social change if they could afford it. He stated that the policy would likely be gone in a generation or two or with the next major war, whichever came first.

  2. Translation:

    Gay people make for good cannon fodder, too!

  3. …military commanders should at least stop drumming gays who are currently serving out.

    Amen to that.
    I served aboard ship 86-88. We had well over a thousand man crew, so there were a fair number of gays on board. There was even a small gay community, which is to say they socialized amongst themselves (BTW I crashed one of their parties once, what an interesting night THAT was. but that’s another show). But in my final months the Helms witch hunts had begun. Guys lockers were broken into by the MAA (shipboard police) and their love letters confiscated to be used as evidence to have them discharged.

  4. Such a waste. All those careers, all that service, dumped in the trash.

  5. I’d LOVE to ask the assholes who favor getting rid of gay soldiers, as well as the ones who favor getting rid of gay linguists, why they think gays are a bigger threat than al-Qaeda.

  6. gay linguists
    Maybe the Army only wants cunning linguists.

  7. Back when Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was initiated, I was dating a girl whose dad was a naval chaplain.

    The discussions were interesting. There was a sense of inevitability amongst everyone that change was afoot and – despite old hat argments about ‘unit cohesion’ and what not – most agreed it would eventually change to a more open policy eventually.

  8. I find myself wondering what sort of gay man functions normally amongst such a thousand-man crew in tight quarters. I myself would find the surroundings highly distracting, to say the least. No less so than a straight man would if serving on a thousand-woman ship. It’s not like we’re uniquely to turn it off or something.

  9. s/b “uniquely ABLE”

  10. Rhywun,
    Yeah, I don’t know. Like I said they kept to themselves.

    It would be different than serving with a nearly all female crew. It’s not like being surrounded by temptation. Think about it. If a gay guy hits on a straight guy, he’s going to be repulsed and offended by the gay guy’s advances.
    Come to think of it, it’s not different at all.

  11. I now believe that if gay men and lesbians served openly in the United States military, they would not undermine the efficacy of the armed forces. Our military has been stretched thin by our deployments in the Middle East, and we must welcome the service of any American who is willing and able to do the job.

    Reminds me of the “welcome” Blacks got during WWII. (Disclosure: My father was one of the white officers in a black truck company, so I heard stories they didn’t tell in war movies.)

    Personally the only things that were really important about the folks in the next foxhole were whether they could stay alert when dog tired, and shoot straight under pressure.

  12. A better analogy would be a straight man serving on a ship with a crew made up primarily of lesbians. He might find this exciting at first but if the women are really lesbians and not the porn variety he’s going to find the situation more frustrating than titillating.

    And of course, gay men are used to being in male dominated environments. They’ve been using locker rooms, bathrooms, participated in male sports teams, etc. their whole lives. I imagine they find the situation pretty mundane.

  13. The Blog Shakespeare’s Sister has an interesting take on this. She things it’s a cynical move to both increase the amount of cannon fodder, and, more importantly, to remove one of the bigger draft dodges. See, back in the 60’s no Real Man would ever announce himself gay just to get out of Vietnam. Now, with the gay thing not being a really big deal, a lot more guys would be willing to lie their way out of Iraq.

  14. Has a gay man who’s been kicked out of the army been denied his Second Amendment rights?
    No doubt his right to bear arms in defense of his country has been abridged, and it seems to me that someone who wants to be part of a well-regulated militia is on firmer constitutional ground than the hunters and collectors who have monopolized the second amendment debate up to this point. Legal scholars please advise.

  15. The military should be ALL gay. The Spartans were gay. They fought harder ( no pun intended, lol) to protect their lovers.

  16. As Professor George F. Will said, several years ago, on that show that sucks after Mr. Brinkley left, ‘We have a country now where almost everybody under 20 looks at being homosexual in the same way we look at being left handed. This is rapidly not beecoming a social issue any more.’ not in real quotes because it was like that and I can not remember if that is exact.

    Anyway, from the security aspect (if that matters to the hippies here) having homosexuality as one less thing that will kill your clearance, then there is one less thing a foe can blackmail you with.

    I’d LOVE to ask the assholes who favor getting rid of gay soldiers, as well as the ones who favor getting rid of gay linguists, why they think gays are a bigger threat than al-Qaeda.

    That is one of the stupidest challenges I have ever heard in my life and don’t bother me with that stupidity in person.

  17. Guy,

    “That is one of the stupidest challenges I have ever heard in my life and don’t bother me with that stupidity in person.”

    What the hell is wrong with what he said?

  18. A better analogy would be a straight man serving on a ship with a crew made up primarily of lesbians. He might find this exciting at first but if the women are really lesbians and not the porn variety he’s going to find the situation more frustrating than titillating.

    Given the number of straight men willing to indulge in sex play with gay partners, I don’t think the experience of a gay man serving aboard ship in a gay-friendly navy would be very frustrating at all.

  19. Sociocons blaming the Iraq debacle on gays in the military, coming in three, two, one…

  20. Xboy,

    Has a gay man who’s been kicked out of the army been denied his Second Amendment rights?

    IIRC, the State of Tennessee refuses to grant concealed carry pistol “permits” to those who have been dishonorably discharged from the military as well as those who are on VA disability. Can’t remember if it is a blanket ban or qualified, i.e., mental disability or something like that.

    Pretty sure I am way off on the details, but none of that applied to me so it did not stick in my head.

  21. andy,

    Because it is that ‘intellectualistic’ retarded inciteful crap that Ann Althouse engages in.

    Same as asking if it was more important to ban veterans of the Lincoln Brigade from being Officers than it was to defeat Germany in WWII.

    It is Ginsu knife commercial copy.

    There is a big fat Liberal Arts English Class word for it that starts with an s.

  22. Of course the armed services don’t keep statistics on the topic, but I have heard there is anecdotal evidence that gay service members’ rate of re-enlistment is significantly higher than that of straights.

    It seems they hate to leave their buddies behind.

  23. “The military should be ALL gay. The Spartans were gay. They fought harder ( no pun intended, lol) to protect their lovers.”

    Also, “drill instructor” would be a very different job.

  24. “Sociocons blaming the Iraq debacle on gays in the military, coming in three, two, one…”

    LOL, exactly. Which is why I somewhat hope they wait until after we’re out of there.

    Personally I would never fight for this country until my basic rights were finally recognized and I knew my partner back home would taken care of if I died instead of treated like a total stranger to me.

  25. Err I mean even to defend to this country. I would never join in the imperialist campaigns we’re running now regardless.

  26. Karen | January 2, 2007, 7:14pm | #

    I seem to recall that back in the day when Clinton was embroiled in this issue of all the countries in NATO only the US and the UK barred gay soldiers.

    All the other NATO members at the time had conscript armies, and refused to reject men claiming to be gay for the exact reasons you suggest.

  27. For a while I was under the care of a doctor who was obviously gay. He had lots of Army commendations on his wall. He seemed to know what he was doing, and that was all that mattered to me.

  28. Karen, per a gay, ex-mil friend, the UK no longer bars gays from enlisting.

  29. next up, the ban on people who smoke reefer!!
    or at least the ban on people who smokeD a lot of reefer in college from the officer corps.
    yeah, right.

    happy 2007 from the third world, y?all.

  30. methodman international,

    Yea, we will seriously improve the services if we have baked officers flying aircraft.

  31. Yeah, Guy, that’s exactly what he said.

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