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Why Doesn't Uncle Sam Want These Troops?
June 1, 2005 8:44 AM   Subscribe

Why Doesn't Uncle Sam Want These Troops? Perhaps because even wounded heroes get discharged for being gay, like Sgt. Robert Stout. When don't ask, don't tell is costing the military valuable talent and more than a quarter-billion dollars, veterans, partners and the at least 63% of the public are calling for the repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'.
posted by Hot Like Your 12V Wire (58 comments total)

 
As long as some young American service members view openly gay people with violence, changing a policy is not going to help gays in the military; particularly when such members are close quartered with said gay individuals.

Getting kicked out might be psychologically harmful, being beat to death is ....

I served with a number of gays and lesbians in the Army. Not unlike at any other workplace, smart employees leave behaviours considered to be taboo (by their employers) at home.
Granted, every military base has a few things close to the gates... a nudie bar, a barber shop, a tailor shop, and somewhere in the town, ... a gay bar with gay military patrons.

"Don't ask, don't tell" is not perfect, but it is one of the best compromises the military has.
posted by buzzman at 9:22 AM on June 1, 2005


Stossel is a douche. But yeah, the most egregious example was the Arabic translators that were dismissed. I mean, c'mon, they're gonna what? Gay up Al Qaeda radio chatter?
posted by klangklangston at 9:28 AM on June 1, 2005


As long as some young American service members view openly gay people with violence, changing a policy is not going to help gays in the military; particularly when such members are close quartered with said gay individuals.

s/gay/black

People said the same thing about integration, but the armed forces did that very well. The plain fact is, if a decision like this is supported at the top, everyone else will do what they're damn well told to do. That's the point of all that "good order and discipline" they're always on about.

"Don't ask, don't tell" is not perfect, but it is one of the best compromises the military has.

As one of those number of gays in the Army that you mention, I say it stinks. I was forced to lie about who I was, when my superiors expected full honesty about every other thing I said.
posted by me & my monkey at 9:29 AM on June 1, 2005


I thought "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was generally only enforced during peace time, since in a time of war it could be used as an easy way out if a soldier doesn't want to serve any more.
posted by bobo123 at 9:43 AM on June 1, 2005


It should be evident that no one in a position of power in this administration gives two shits what the military thinks about how to manage military affairs. The informed opinions of military leaders will continue to be trumped by the necessity to appear to be making logical policy decisions that appeal to the fundy base, to supposed cost-cutting measures that only serve to increase risk for troops, and above all, to continue to confuse leadership with never revising an initial policy decision, objective data to the contrary be damned.

It is increasingly sad and amazing how almost every developed western democracy continues to evolve on issues of gay rights (not to mention stem cell research and science education unhindered by creationist interference) while we continue our stranglehold on obstinate stupidity to the point of our own imminent cultural decline.
posted by docpops at 9:53 AM on June 1, 2005


"Justin Peacock was thrown out of the Coast Guard after another soldier reported that he had been holding hands with another man.

"The military said that I was gratifying, gratifying myself and it was a sexual desire and they had to discharge for it because it was a homosexual act," Justin said."


Uh, didn't we see the Commando-in-Chief holding hands with, uh, another man? Was he gratifying himself?

What rubbish. Personally, I would not volunteer for combat duty, but I say that other than the psychotic or deranged, anyone who wants to serve in the military should be able to. As me & my monkey points out, people used similar rationalizations against blacks (my father served as a commander of a black outfit--while the outfit was all black, the lieutenant (my pops) & above were white.

Fortunately for me, my father taught me at an early age what bullshit racists espouse. Same with gay-haters by extension as far as I'm concerned.
posted by beelzbubba at 9:54 AM on June 1, 2005


Why Doesn't Uncle Sam Want These Troops?

'Cause they might blow their assignment? [slinks off to corner regretting making the irrrestible, but bad, joke]
posted by nofundy at 9:59 AM on June 1, 2005


I'm not gay, and I'm not sure I'll ever truly understand the motivations for homosexuality, but for years I have had the task of conducting the annual military briefing on Don't Ask Don't Tell to the battalion. I've always felt torn about it since I don't see anything wrong with being gay; I just don't happen to be one.

The real purpose of the briefing is to legally cover the Army. If someone is found to be gay, they can go through the records and find out when the briefings were done. It makes the separation process easier. The secondary purpose is to inform troops as to what constitutes sufficient proof.

What's worse, being tasked to conduct the briefing is sort of a punishment within the ranks. As a new officer, it's usually just another 'initiation ritual' but after I pissed off a fellow officer (who doesn't even outrank me) he made it his business to ensure I get the briefing every time. I don't mind it on a personal level, after all it's just another briefing that must be done, but the duty carries a stigma since the overall atmosphere is so hostile.

Although, it's always worth it to see some young E1-E4 ask "I'm a little unclear on the female homosexuality part. Can we have a practical demonstration?" and then watch the female officer that everyone hates take off in a huff.
posted by mystyk at 10:03 AM on June 1, 2005


watch the number of 'gays' shoot up if the draft is reinstated. I hope they keep a record, if for no other reason than to embarrass the rich kids who dont wanna put their lives where their chicken-hawk talk is.
posted by MrLint at 10:07 AM on June 1, 2005


Why does everyone hate that female officer, mystyk?
posted by agregoli at 10:21 AM on June 1, 2005


It should be evident that no one in a position of power in this administration gives two shits what the military thinks about how to manage military affairs.

Yeah, it's all about Bush. It wasn't Clinton who was responsible for "don't ask, don't tell."

I'm not gay, and I'm not sure I'll ever truly understand the motivations for homosexuality ...

There aren't any motivations for it, just like you don't need any motivation to be heterosexual. Your dick knows what it likes, to put it bluntly.
posted by me & my monkey at 10:23 AM on June 1, 2005


I'm not sure I'll ever truly understand the motivations for homosexuality

One of the motivations is called love. Not too hard to understand, if you clear your head a little.
posted by digaman at 10:27 AM on June 1, 2005


One of the motivations is called love. Not too hard to understand, if you clear your head a little.

Love doesn't usually generate sexual attraction; instead, we generally fall in love with people to whom we're already attracted. I suspect it's unusual for someone to fall in love with another person of the same sex without already being attracted to their own sex.
posted by me & my monkey at 10:34 AM on June 1, 2005


Ok, enough with the deconstructionism. Context, people. Context. People love to take a single sentence and balloon it into its own little world, but it just isn't reasonable.

As for the direct question, she was prior service enlisted, and unlike the other officers who were she never was able to cast off the direct "in your face; running the show" attitude of a jr. NCO when she transitioned to a more "give the order but let the NCO run things" position of an officer.
posted by mystyk at 10:38 AM on June 1, 2005


Hrm.. take your pick:

Metafilter: doesn't usually generate sexual attraction

Metafilter: take a single sentence and balloon it into its own little world
posted by mystyk at 10:40 AM on June 1, 2005


Love doesn't usually generate sexual attraction; instead, we generally fall in love with people to whom we're already attracted. I suspect it's unusual for someone to fall in love with another person of the same sex without already being attracted to their own sex.

I disagree with nearly every assertion in this statement, but it's too off-topic and elaborate to pursue. But you might check out Shakespeare's sonnets, Jack Kerouac's On the Road, or the Bible re: David and Jonathan sometime for more info.
posted by digaman at 10:44 AM on June 1, 2005


Open minds on open seas (alternative title "UK Royal Navy Recruits Gays").

US Military Discharged 322 Gay Linguists Since 1995.
posted by mlis at 10:54 AM on June 1, 2005


All the homosexuals I know are strongly motivated by a sexual attraction to members of their own sex. Oh and I heard they get double frequent flier miles.

Once again (and me & my monkey's point about integrating the Army is the crux) the hypocrisy of swinging around the world and handing out freedom when your own military does not recognize universal human rights is staggering. If gay people are crazy enough to join the army, that is that. It's also an insult to the average soldier to assume that they are somehow more homophobic than the average person (regardless of tropes about socioeconomic status), most people, I have found, who express distaste for homosexuality do so because they don't know any homosexuals (well they don't know any open homosexuals), once they do know some homosexuals and find that they just people (and won't pork them in the shower unless asked politely), they come around. The lifelong rabid homophobes that are angry that people aren't exactly like them are the noisy minority. I mean isn't it the case that the army is one of the most integrated American institutions?

The only downside I can see of getting rid of this policy is that come the draft, the whole makeout with a dude to get out of killing brown people tactic I was counting on is going to have to be replaced with the peanut butter in the ass trick, which I am sure they are on the lookout for.
posted by Divine_Wino at 10:55 AM on June 1, 2005


I'm not sure I'll ever truly understand the motivations for homosexuality

This is part of the problem - the thought that there must be some motivated choice going on.

I can't explain my motivations for being hetero. Do I need one?
posted by uncle harold at 11:11 AM on June 1, 2005


"it's always worth it to see some young E1-E4 ask 'I'm a little unclear on the female homosexuality part. Can we have a practical demonstration?' and then watch the female officer that everyone hates take off in a huff."

Metafilter: taking a single sentence and ballooning it into its own little world.

This speaks volumes, despite monkey's incorrect assertion that minorities are substitutable.

The military has not eliminated racism from the ranks, but it has managed to keep it fairly well controlled. Don't ask, don't tell that you're racist.

The military has not eliminated gender-based discrimination from the ranks, but it has managed to leverage some control over it. Don't ask, don't tell that you don't think women belong here.

The military has not eliminated sexual-persuasion-based discrimination from the ranks, but it is trying.

As long as these traits are common in society, the problems they create will be magnified in the military society.
posted by mischief at 11:14 AM on June 1, 2005


I always assumed homosexuals, like all rational beings, were motivated by a desire for marginalization, derision, potential violence...you know, all those good things.

Fuckwit.
posted by docpops at 11:22 AM on June 1, 2005


I don't really see anything wrong with a don't ask, don't tell policy. The sexes are kept apart to avoid distraction, and if that distraction can happen within a sex, it should be minimized. This policy seems to be the best as long as we have intolerance in the ranks.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 11:37 AM on June 1, 2005


buzzman, DADT isn't a compromise it's just good old, institutionalized prejudice. Your argument is pretty much the same that was used to justify keeping blacks and women out of the armed forces; somehow it's "better" to for them and it's "other" people that are the problem. But history has shown us quite clearly that when the Army takes a stand on such an issue and then vigirously enforces it there's a short transition period and then most people fall in line very quickly. (This is what Army guys do: fall in line). So, no, DADT is just a stain.
posted by nixerman at 11:42 AM on June 1, 2005


I disagree with nearly every assertion in this statement, but it's too off-topic and elaborate to pursue. But you might check out Shakespeare's sonnets, Jack Kerouac's On the Road, or the Bible re: David and Jonathan sometime for more info.

You are of course free to disagree, but I don't think "more info" will cause me to change my mind. If you really think that love generally precedes physical desire, I can only say that my personal experience and direct observation has been the reverse.

I'm relatively familiar with the idea of courtly love as expressed in the sonnets, and I don't see how that contradicts my assertions. Just because courtly love is generally chaste, it is not chaste because of a lack of physical desire, but rather because of the adulterous or inappropriate nature of that desire.

It's also an insult to the average soldier to assume that they are somehow more homophobic than the average person ...

My experience was exactly the opposite of this. Some people knew I was gay, some didn't. There were other people who were widely known to be gay, but that wasn't a problem in their specific cases. This was back in '85-'87, before "don't ask, don't tell." The funny thing was this: if you went up to a soldier and asked him what he thought of gays, he'd likely say something about not being able to stand those fuckin' faggots. But there's quite a bit of situational homosexuality in the Army, and this is acknowledged in a lot of the standard Army jokes and the like, so the next minute you might hear that same soldier making a joke about "making his buddy smile" while standing in a tight line.

This speaks volumes, despite monkey's incorrect assertion that minorities are substitutable.

You state that my assertion is incorrect, I state otherwise. How can we tell who's right? Well, other countries are able to integrate gays within their militaries, even though those same other countries have the same problems with racism and homophobia within their societies.

The military has not eliminated racism from the ranks, but it has managed to keep it fairly well controlled. Don't ask, don't tell that you're racist.

In the US, the military is well-known as a successful early adopter of race integration. It's not the military's job to control what people think, but rather what they do. You're free to tell anyone that you're a racist, but God help you if your superiors see that affecting your actions.

As long as these traits are common in society, the problems they create will be magnified in the military society.

Uh, no, they won't be "magnified," because the military isn't your typical employer. You aren't able to get away with the same sort of crap you can as a civilian. If you're a platoon sergeant, and you happen to be racist, you're not going to be able to fire your platoon members if they happen to be black, and your company sergeant (who is also likely to be black) will put your ass in a sling if you treat them unfairly.

I don't really see anything wrong with a don't ask, don't tell policy. The sexes are kept apart to avoid distraction, and if that distraction can happen within a sex, it should be minimized. This policy seems to be the best as long as we have intolerance in the ranks.

This is totally ass-backwards. Let's rephrase it:

"As long as people are jerks, we'll force other people to give up their rights to accommodate those jerks."

Doesn't sound so good, does it? There will always be "intolerance in the ranks," because people will always be jerks. When I was in the Army, I met white people who didn't like black people, black people who didn't like gay people, gay people who didn't like black people, etc. But the answer isn't to indulge these petty dislikes, it's to require that people behave according to clear standards. The "don't ask, don't tell" policy goes against this, by forcing a specific group of people to lie in one and only one specific case, and by condoning this dishonesty.
posted by me & my monkey at 11:45 AM on June 1, 2005


It is all about leadership, which the US military is supposed to have. me and my monkey has hit the nail on the head. When blacks were integrated, in units with good leadership, there were few problems. In units with bad leadership, there were major problems.

I heard the same arguements when I was a kid for why women should stay in their segragated corps. There is still violence against women in today's military, but I haven't heard of female service members having to sleep with knives under their pillows, in guarded compounds surrounded by razor wire, like US Army nurses in the Pacific theatre of WWII had to.

I served in the US Army before Don't Ask, Don't Tell. I didn't tell, but everyone knew. It was a non-issue. Heck, in Basic Training, the other trainees told me to stop taking my showers facing the corner. It made it difficult to chat. Some of my friends weren't as lucky as I was.
posted by QIbHom at 11:53 AM on June 1, 2005


I wonder if that "63% of Americans want DADT eliminated" includes those Americans who want it eliminated because they don't want gays in the army, period.

My only reservations about gays in the military is the possibility for gay-bashing from their less-tolerant colleagues. But like that's going to go away if people don't get exposed to teh homersexuamal and figure out not every gay man is scheming to slip his penis into the butt of every straight man he sees, and not every gay woman is scheming to eat out every straight woman she sees.
posted by schroedinger at 12:05 PM on June 1, 2005


What most don't realize is that the full policy title is "Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Harass, Don't Pursue." This is slightly different from what people think, and it does not encourage lying so much as not telling.

The Army is actually very careful at not asking that question, and in fact they aren't allowed to do so by this policy. I've known a few people who have been busted down for doing it. There are clear guidelines for what constitutes sufficient proof of homosexuality, and short of blatant admission (to a superior, not an equal or lesser rank) or being caught in the act, it's damn near impossible to prosecute for separation.

Now, that aside, there is a clear attitude of hatred and intolerance, especially in 'gung-ho' infantry units. Often the chain looks the other way, and just says that it is a show of 'machoism' that can actually boost unit morale (that is, machoism in general, not this particular flavor). It is grotesque that such hatred is not cracked down on, but it is not impossible to understand the viewpoint of the most common argument that open homosexuality could hurt the morale of a unit spending weeks out in remote areas (even if the validity of the argument remains wholly unproven).

Remember, though, that most of the homosexuality rules actually stemmed from anti-sodomy laws in the UCMJ that are still on the books. There are recorded cases of heterosexual married officers (of both genders) being separated by those statutes for what they did in bed with their spouse...in the privacy of their home.
posted by mystyk at 12:15 PM on June 1, 2005


But the answer isn't to indulge these petty dislikes, it's to require that people behave according to clear standards. The "don't ask, don't tell" policy goes against this, by forcing a specific group of people to lie in one and only one specific case, and by condoning this dishonesty.

Bravo.
posted by docpops at 12:17 PM on June 1, 2005


Wouldn't openly letting gays in help Rumsfeld's goal of making the military more "nimble"?
posted by srboisvert at 12:24 PM on June 1, 2005


I hated Clinton for "don't ask don't tell" for the very reasons me & my monkey laid down. It impugns their honor.

" when such members are close quartered with said gay individuals"
"People said the same thing about integration"
"The sexes are kept apart to avoid distraction"

This is not like integration - sex is involved.
I'll reiterate what I got called a homophobe for a bit ago:
The only problem I have with homosexuals in the military is under the current methods used to board troops it's unfair to heterosexuals. That is - does a gay man get to live in the same quarters as another gay man? As a straight man? With a woman? What if (s)he's lying about sexual orientation? The overarching problem is this 'morality' bullshit. Let anyone live with anyone else they want. There will be problems at first and asses will sting as a result, but eventually people will figure out it's better to live with a buddy than a lover (of whatever sex) if you get 'distracted' by it and it results in punishment.
There's really no time to fuck in the field (not that I've tried, but considering how hard it is to find a place to jack off...) and it could get you killed or imprisoned just for trying. And we still have the intelligence community considering closeted homosexuals as security risks because of blackmail. Simply difuse the entire thing by removing sexual mores from the system and ruthlessly punish anything that interferes with duty. Since that includes getting VD the condom industry would boom.
But as it is now, homosexuls can't have it both ways. It simply isn't fair to expect to serve within a system wherein a person can lie about being gay (or not) and get birthed with a female or solo or whatever half ass system would be put in place to make everyone's old aunt biddy feel better that our nice red handed boys & girls aren't having the 'immoral' ess eee ecks after a long day of pulling triggers and kicking over tea wagons.
I am, of course, in favor of changing how troops are quartered.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:26 PM on June 1, 2005


monkey: Are you a veteran? If so, then our military experiences are worlds apart.
posted by mischief at 12:32 PM on June 1, 2005


I'm relatively familiar with the idea of courtly love as expressed in the sonnets, and I don't see how that contradicts my assertions.

"Courtly love" isn't the issue. Most of the sonnets were written by Shakespeare to profess his love for a young man, "W.H." But in one of the poems, Shakespeare seems to explain that, while he's not gay, he adores the young man anyway, even to the point of admiring his beauty. That was my point. Same deal in Kerouac's On the Road. But sorry for the drift.

posted by digaman at 12:39 PM on June 1, 2005


monkey: Are you a veteran? If so, then our military experiences are worlds apart.

Yes. I served from '85 to '87 in 3/35 Armor BN in Bamberg, Germany. At the time, Bamberg was the easternmost duty station, aside from the regular border patrols along the Czechoslovakian and East German borders. I served as a "DAT" - which either meant "distinguished armor technician" or "dumb-ass tanker" depending on who you asked. We were in the field the whole damn time I was there, practically. For part of that time, my direct superior knew that I was gay but never once mentioned it to me. Nor did it affect my work environment.

Most of the sonnets were written by Shakespeare to profess his love for a young man, "W.H." But in one of the poems, Shakespeare seems to explain that, while he's not gay, he adores the young man anyway, even to the point of admiring his beauty.

I think you're reading something into them that's not there. The idea of sexuality as part of one's personal identity was not popularly accepted in Shakespeare's time, so it doesn't make much sense to interpret them as a denial of homosexuality. In addition, in the analysis for the link you cited, your interpretation of his explanation is contradicted by others; you'll excuse me if I choose to believe Stephen Spender's explanation instead of yours, I hope. And by the time you get to "even admiring his beauty," well, we're back to physical attraction aren't we?

But in any case, this kind of unrequited, unfulfilled love does fit within the "courtly love" pattern. Any interpretation of Shakespeare's sonnets has to be mindful of this.

And as for Kerouac, well, he had a thing for the guys too, right? I haven't read his work, but I would be genuinely surprised if, in his case as well, physical attraction did not precede love.
posted by me & my monkey at 12:57 PM on June 1, 2005


I just wish the Pentagon would create a DSNPOTOEO policy. Because SNPOTOEO didn't work worth a darn.

(Stack Naked Prisoners On Top Of Each Other).
posted by surplus at 1:24 PM on June 1, 2005


OK, monkey, cool. I will write our differences off then as Army vs Marines.
posted by mischief at 1:26 PM on June 1, 2005


I would like to applaud me & my monkey for superior analysis of both the military and Shakespeare's sonnets, and Hot Like Your 12V Wire for not making a lame "first post, don't hurt me" remark. Well done. (I didn't serve, but my gay brother did, and I think he would concur with m&mm.)
posted by languagehat at 1:27 PM on June 1, 2005


If 10,000 people have been kicked for being gay so far, there must be some percentage of that amount straight kids who were afraid of dying. By the way, is it considered dishonorable discharge?
posted by Dean Keaton at 2:11 PM on June 1, 2005


me & my monkey writes "Yeah, it's all about Bush. It wasn't Clinton who was responsible for 'don't ask, don't tell.'"

Actually Clinton wanted to integrate the forces, but the Pentagon never had respect for him.

Unfortunately he failed to assert his position as C-in-C and rectify the brass's attitude. IMHO there's nothing like a few dismissed Colonels and LGs to make both rank and brass realize that they better follow that fucking order, and hopefully the next Dem to occupy the White House will realize that.
posted by clevershark at 2:30 PM on June 1, 2005


What is the current rationale for why homosexuals-in-service would be detrimental to the military? I mean, other than the "gay people == bad" mentality?
posted by Ogre Lawless at 2:36 PM on June 1, 2005


Ogre, it's been touched on in the thread. It would supposedly hurt morale and group cohesion because the homophobes would be afraid their gay comrades were checking out their butts, the gays might get bashed, the gays could have sex with each other and the heteros couldn't, etc.
posted by schroedinger at 2:48 PM on June 1, 2005


In the end, the reasons are mostly seen as archaic within the military along with certain UCMJ articles. Though you might see some bitter generals and colonels, and some wayward junior enlisted, if the Congress of the U.S. actually made the ruling, it would be accepted in short order. So do what you can from the civilian front.

(It is interesting to compare the attitudes of how the military should respond to civilian rulings with this issue and others like Bush or the Iraqi war.)
posted by Lord Chancellor at 3:07 PM on June 1, 2005


When I was in bootcamp, the night watch caught two guys trading blowjobs in the back of the barracks. It was 3 days before graduation - and everyone knew that the fastest way out of bootcamp was to graduate. Some guys wanted to turn them in - I forced the issue and said we weren't gonna do a damn thing. And we didn't. And everyone went their way. Nothing happened.

When I was stationed in Key West, I was afraid to visit all the gay bars (etc...) because it was such a small island it seemed like all the military stationed there knew each other - and people gossip! So I did nothing. And in my personal life... Nothing Happened.

When I was stationed in Pensacola, a fresh new officer in flight school, I discovered the internet. As you can guess, Something Happened! But I wasn't out to my friends or co-workers, as I still wasn't even comfortable in my own skin.

When I was stationed in California, an aviator in a squadron on a big boat full of men (and at that point not many women) I became sick of lying - as it tends to eat someone up inside when their lives feel like a lie. I wasn't really part of the squadron because I felt like I was always hiding my real life from the squadron. So I started my version of 'Pick Who To Tell' - very carefully calculated on my chances of not being outed. And Something Happened again. Suddenly I was part of a group, who didn't care that I was gay... to the last one secure enough in themselves not to worry about being stuck on the ship with a gay man. You see, it's my opinion that being gay in the military under 'DADT' leads to a unit, squadron, or whatever being weaker than it could be otherwise - if only some people can get over their prejudices.

I only once had to remind someone that 'knew' that just as they didn't honestly want to sleep w/ every woman on the planet, I didn't want to have sex with every man I saw. I told him that he was pretty damn ugly to me.

Officers knew, some enlisted knew. And Nothing Happened.

When I got out of the Navy, I told anyone and everyone (when the situation arose - like the guy at work who asked if I wanted to go w/ him to a strip club, but that's a different story). Some people don't care, some people look at me w/ a wary 'red state glow' in their eyes. But by and large, it's a non-issue.

So... my experience w/ being gay in the Navy was a relatively positive one - but I left because I didn't want to 'pick who to tell' anymore. I always received the EP on my evals, and I was always the best (or damn close) at what I did. If you ask around enough, you'll see that the gay people in the military are often (but not always) the overachievers - with a feeling of needing to prove themselves. The Navy lost me, and others that I know of who were damn good at (and loved) their jobs, without the need of a discharge. We just served our time and left when we were finally fed up with it.

I wonder how many else have done that?
posted by matty at 3:17 PM on June 1, 2005


I saw what matty speaks of in the Army. Almost civilian levels of homosexuality, most above average in duty and achievement, and like everybody else; they typically finished their time and ETS'd. Not too many would outright declare their sexuality, but it was known. None of us ?declared? our hetrosexuality either. We were teams, anxious to complete missions and get on with the day.

Very few service members are going to upset a good team because of sexuality, perhaps it is the random moron that only views one in terms of their sexuality that can cause a problem.
DADT isn't perfect, but it does seem to be working as well as possible.
posted by buzzman at 5:06 PM on June 1, 2005


Me & My Monkey, I applaud you, sir.

One thing that I've been called to do in my working life is to sort out the end results of various human rights policies that might be, at some point, revamped to take into account the modern world.

One thing that is taken as a given is that we do not bow to base prejudices. Just because someone doesn't want to hire a black/gay/woman/handicapped person because it would "scare away business" for example -- even if it would. That is not how discrimination is done away with.

Sexual orientation is not different than racism in that respect. Soldiers have learnt to deal with racial integration. They can bloody well deal with the idea of a man who fucks other men. Because that's what it comes down to: personal disgust, not some "distraction" bullshit argument.

That being said, it's pretty hard to send out America's Legion of Christianity containing gay soldiers if Christian America is busy condemning them. But hey, we need them as cannon fodder so DADT, right? Doesn't mean they get to have any dignity while they die.
posted by dreamsign at 5:11 PM on June 1, 2005


DADT isn't perfect, but it does seem to be working as well as possible.

Hold on; how does this conclusion follow from what you've written?

You say:

-There are homosexuals in the military, and regardless of DADT, everybody knows who they are.
-Everyone works well together, regardless of sexual orientation.
-Homosexual soldiers, although in general excellent at their jobs, tend to get out ASAP.

Matty suggests that the reason homosexuals leave the service so soon is because DADT makes them uncomfortable. So we know the following things: DADT doesn't actually keep anyone from knowing who the gay soldiers are; even when people know who the gay soldiers are, there aren't any problems; and DADT drives talented, hardworking service members away from the military.

And you conclude that DADT "isn't perfect"? Man, not only is it not perfect, but, based on those facts, it's a fucking disaster. It doesn't accomplish its goal (a goal that isn't even necessary to accomplish, since apparently the known presence of homosexuals doesn't affect the performance of the military) and it drives talented people away. That's not a policy that's "working as well as possible"; that's a policy that's failure, through and through.
posted by mr_roboto at 5:26 PM on June 1, 2005


It's pretty pathetic that only now during wartime that we have such a shortage is there talk of eliminating the ban. Equal rights only matter when there's another reason?
posted by amberglow at 5:29 PM on June 1, 2005


mr_roboto... I wasn't exactly suggesting that gay military leave 'so soon' because of DADT - after all I was in for 10 years. But I agree w/ the 'uncomfortable' part... although the service was a great experience for me, I'll always wonder about what could have been.

I loved my job, I loved going on cruise around the world - all the awesome port calls made getting shot at worth it. Well, not totally worth it... but the port calls were cool nonetheless!! I loved all (ok, most of) the people I worked with, too. Now if only the Navy would have 'legally' let me have a personal life along with my professional life, I think I could've made a full career out of it.
posted by matty at 6:07 PM on June 1, 2005


I always felt that the service made everybody uncomfortable after a while. :)
DADT allows gays and lesbians to serve their country. It does not allow them a platform to proclaim their sexuality. The lifestyle does have circuit parties that are military themed, these are better places to proclaim ones beliefs.

mr_roboto, have you ever been in the military? A VA hospital? On a base? A ship? Please, don't be an outside observer making judgements. I said please.
Go to one of the military circuit parties. Dance your brains out. Have a ball, smile like a fool. Wear some camo and turn it loose!!!

DADT has also allowed service members a way to get out of the military without actually being gay. Just go to the commander, and tell of your homosexual intentions, desires, dreams, whatever. In this sense, DADT is not perfect. Not many things are perfect. Actually, I can't think of a darn thing in this world that is perfect. I can say that despite civilian polls and such, open homosexuality in the military is something the US service branches are not ready for.
posted by buzzman at 6:10 PM on June 1, 2005


Buzzman doesn't get it - it's not about 'proclaming your sexuality'... it's about not being able to feel like you're fully part of a group, or a team.

It's about either avoiding conversation about what everyone did over the weekend, or downright lying about what you did.

It's about making up excuses for your lack of a date to the squadron picnic, or creating imaginary girlfriends "in Niagra Falls"... (you wouldn't know her).

The UCMJ already spells out the policies concerning appropriate behavior between the sexes in the workplace - the rules apply in same sex situations as well.

So you see - it's not about 'proclaiming' one's sexuality, as there's never been a need to do so.
posted by matty at 6:24 PM on June 1, 2005


DADT allows gays and lesbians to serve their country. It does not allow them a platform to proclaim their sexuality. The lifestyle does have circuit parties that are military themed, these are better places to proclaim ones beliefs.

Uh, I don't know that much about "the lifestyle." And when I was in the military, I didn't want to proclaim my sexuality - at the age of 18, I was still trying to figure it out for myself. But I certainly don't know what the fuck circuit parties have to do with military service.

I didn't join the Army to dance with guys in camo. I joined because I thought it was a good thing to do for my country. I picked a combat arms MOS because I wanted to serve my country. I asked to be stationed in Germany, and I was. I spent months and months in Grafenwohr, the biggest goddamned mud puddle in the world, training to fight the Soviets, because I thought it was the right thing for me to do. So pardon me in advance for asking you to stuff your circuit party cracks up your ass.

I can say that despite civilian polls and such, open homosexuality in the military is something the US service branches are not ready for.

They never will be ready for it until someone makes them deal with it, because the upper echelons simply aren't interested in dealing with it. This is not about being allowed to swish, or to be a flaming queen. This is about not having to lie about who and what you are. If it were up to people like you, the military would still not be integrated because we'd be waiting for that perfect moment when racism has completely disappeared from society. Well, fuck that.
posted by me & my monkey at 6:41 PM on June 1, 2005


buzzman writes "Please, don't be an outside observer making judgements. I said please. "

I wasn't making any judgements. All of the facts in my analysis are based on statements made by former service members, including yourself, in this thread. The conclusion I drew seems commonsense. How do you object to it?

buzzman writes "I can say that despite civilian polls and such, open homosexuality in the military is something the US service branches are not ready for."

Why not? You yourself have written that there are homosexuals in the services, that everybody who works with them knows who they are, and that it doesn't affect anyone's performance. It seems like the service branches are perfectly ready for openly homosexual members.
posted by mr_roboto at 6:46 PM on June 1, 2005


It does not allow them a platform to proclaim their sexuality.
But it does. There's not one closeted fearful straight soldier, marine, sailor or airforce member. They proclaim their sexuality daily.
posted by amberglow at 7:03 PM on June 1, 2005


This is so sad.

Up here in the benighted, backwards North, our armed forces treat gay and lesbian soldiers precisely the same as the straight ones. In a long-term relationship? Then of course you can request a posting near your loved one. Doesn't matter if they're male or female, or whether you're male or female. The Canadian Armed Forces recognizes that a happy employeesoldier is a productive soldier.

Of course, we're not going out and Spreading Democracy around the world. We just do silly things like try and maintain peace and harmony where we go. Maybe we're like that because we allow them durn fudgepackers to be in the Army just like real men.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 7:23 PM on June 1, 2005


matty: Thank you for sharing your story. To be a Naval aviator and come out like you did took guts. I am sorry our country is not as enlightened as Canada or the UK. You should have been able to finish your career in the Navy and be true to yourself.
posted by mlis at 8:54 PM on June 1, 2005


One of the reasons for the apparently expanded and amplified discrimination on a gender, sexual orientation, or race basis is that of segregated breakaway psychology. Although this has probably been understood if not stated (perhaps it's too obvious), people in the military are often segregated (though only on gender) and this then creates the psychological effect, by depriving a person of their normal ambient environment, of causing a psychosis different from that of the human psychosis, in which, due to expanded sex drive (gender segregation) and sociological breakaway syndrome (homesickness), the person believes that their beliefs and attributes are the "right" ones.
This, combined with the tight community attitude that many people enlisted in the Armed Forces describe and experience, results in this psychosis being further amplified by the identical beliefs of others. This then results in discrimination. Thus, without strict drug control, violating several fundamental human rights, which would probably severely limit someones capacity to think clearly (preventing them from shooting the hell out of the guy/gal at the other end of the barrel, which is what most combat situations involve for an infantryman, I am led to believe), it is impossible to prevent discrimination. In fact, through all the strange, long-winded sentences and weird psycho-babble jargon (unintentional, I assure you), I have stated only this:

People don't like being segregated. Luckily, other people who don't like being segregated are with them. That means they all get angry. Mostly with people they don't like. Then they beat them up, lynch them, harass them, etc. Not all the time, of course. Am I finished? Probably not. Oh well.
posted by malusmoriendumest at 3:09 AM on June 2, 2005


"Equal rights only matter when there's another reason?"
That's been the pattern amberglow. It does indeed suck.

"I can say that despite civilian polls and such, open homosexuality in the military is something the US service branches are not ready for."
In defense of buzzman's statement I do know gay men who have been harrassed and beaten in the military. I've heard hundreds of stories of course, some I suspect true, ranging from harrassment to killing.
As a pretty overtly heterosexual guy, I don't think I'd connect with someone talking about gay sex over the weekend. The way I was raised, I don't talk about or enjoy hearing about what went on over the weekend for straight guys either. (I think it's exploitive, but I can always go get a cup of coffee if I don't like it). And yes lots of well trained troops hit the bricks after DADT. So I get it.
But the military is an artificial community. You can make them ready. In many ways it was on the forefront of civil rights for African-Americans.

Which leads me to malusmoriendumest's comments "People don't like being segregated"
It's about identification. Not such a problem with branches like the Marines (which stresses how much a part of the corps you are) but the Air Force, Navy, and in some areas the Army does not stress esprit de corps as much. Certainly you are a sailor, soldier, airman, but it doesn't seem to penetrate your skin as much. This can be changed. The problems with being gay in the military would go away. Unfortunately the civilian leaderships hang up's always trickle down.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:13 PM on June 2, 2005


They have been beaten and killed, but that's something that would mostly stop if they could have served openly. Something like Schindler's horrific awful beating to death was largely because he had come out just before--and was waiting to be thrown out. It wouldn't have happened, i don't think. Forcing soldiers to stay closeted and afraid makes them more of a target.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon isn't even releasing their May recruitment numbers--watch for a "revised" (fake) count, then quietly, like with unemployment figures, they'll release the real count later.
posted by amberglow at 2:04 PM on June 2, 2005


Forcing soldiers to stay closeted and afraid makes them more of a target
Unquestionably. It's gotta stop.

From the piece you posted amberglow:
"Let's go fuck with him."
Pretty much the mindset.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:50 PM on June 3, 2005


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