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They might tell you when it'll be repealed, but only if you don't ask.
February 2, 2010 7:12 AM   Subscribe

An official military investigation into abandoning Don't Ask Don't Tell will begin today, lead by Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

More links: NYT, Washington Post
posted by grapefruitmoon (121 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Why do you need an official military investigation to dismantle a prejudiced and useless policy?

That being said, good.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:15 AM on February 2, 2010 [5 favorites]


(from the first link) "Some high-ranking military officers are reluctant to embrace the change while troops are stretched thin at a time of two wars."

Because why keep good soldiers in the ranks when troops are stretched thin when you can just discharge them for no good reason?

Anyway, it's about time. Godspeed.
posted by oinopaponton at 7:16 AM on February 2, 2010


Man, I can't wait to see what my (conservative, veteran) coworkers have to say about this.

Probably something that will lead to a harassment complaint.
posted by backseatpilot at 7:23 AM on February 2, 2010


John Aravosis:

A series of telling stories out tonight, all of them bad. It appears that Secretary Gates is going to announce a special team of advisers at tomorrow's DADT hearings in the Senate, and that team will take a good year or so to think over all the really hard issues confronting us with the potential repeal of DADT, such as gay marriage.
Their review is expected to look at several sensitive issues, including whether the military should extend marriage and bereavement benefits to the partners of gay soldiers, said the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
There is no gay marriage at the federal level, and DOMA forbids the federal government from providing marriage benefits. So why is DOD even bringing up gay marriage - and they do in this second story too, so this is clearly part of their prepared talking points - unless they're simply trying to be sensationalistic.

Oh, and in the meantime, they're going to implement the discriminatory policy in a more humane manner.

Funny, but I don't recall that being Barack Obama's promise to my community. To more humanely discriminate us against us. He promised to lift the ban. He promised to get ENDA passed. He promised to repeal DOMA. And none of those are currently being discussed. What is being discussed is another study to add to the pile of studies we already have. What is being discussed is a proposal to "change" DADT, rather than repeal it - just as Joe and I have been predicting.

posted by Joe Beese at 7:24 AM on February 2, 2010 [2 favorites]




I understand the need to take enough time to get sufficient support within the military, but we already waited a year. Change the law now. Give the military six months to figure out how to implement it. For an institution that was a leader in integrating the races this fear of the gays is just so disappointing.
posted by caddis at 7:34 AM on February 2, 2010


caddis: "For an institution that was a leader in integrating the races this fear of the gays is just so disappointing."

Er, no.

On July 26, 1951, the US Army formally announced its plans to desegregate, exactly three years after Truman issued Executive Order 9981.

posted by Joe Beese at 7:38 AM on February 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


On July 26, 1951, the US Army formally announced its plans to desegregate, exactly three years after Truman issued Executive Order 9981.

Yes, but that was almost three years before Brown was decided, so I'd say the military still qualifies as a leader in integration.
posted by jedicus at 7:42 AM on February 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


jedicus: "Yes, but that was almost three years before Brown was decided..."

Also four years after Jackie Robinson put on a Dodgers uniform.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:46 AM on February 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


Why do you need an official military investigation to dismantle a prejudiced and useless policy?

That being said, good.


There will be dozens and dozens of parts of military operations this will touch. Benefits, fraternization, all of that. This is going to require a lot of moving parts to be fixed, the Code of Military Justice, you name it. Prior to this, many of these activities were crimes. They'll have to track down every code section that applies and change it. Stuff like this just doesn't get done overnight.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:47 AM on February 2, 2010 [7 favorites]


Call me crazy, but somehow I suspect that arch-conservative right wing hack Robert Gates will find that repealing DADT would be horrible for the troops and recommend that it continue.

Question: why the hell did Obama keep Gates anyway? I thought he won the election.
posted by sotonohito at 7:49 AM on February 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


jedicus: "Yes, but that was almost three years before Brown was decided..."

Also four years after Jackie Robinson put on a Dodgers uniform.


It literally took nothing to get him in a Dodgers uniform. He shows up, puts on uniform, ecstatic manager puts HoF slugger into line up. Easy.

This, not easy. Literally, Congress will have to pass laws to repeal laws previously on the books. Laws that the GOP can filibuster, etc. I have a feeling they won't, but it will take some time to track down every effected code section. There will be thousands.

New policies on sexual harassment, discrimination, you name it. We are literally talking about millions of pages and changes to them. Let's get realistic here. We'd like it to happen now, but it can't.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:50 AM on February 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ironmouth: "Stuff like this just doesn't get done overnight."

And no wonder.

May 22, 2009. A Pentagon spokesman explains to us how the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs are working hard to figure out what needs to be done to implement the repeal of DADT:
"President Obama has been clear in his direction to Secretary Gates and Chairman Mullen that he is committed to repeal the 'Don't Ask Don't Tell' policy. He has also been clear that he is committed to do it in a way that is least disruptive to our troops, especially given that they have been simultaneously waging two wars for six years now. Although this will require changes to the law, the Secretary and Chairman are working to address the challenges associated with implementation of the President's commitment."
Today, nine months later, we find out that the fruits of their hard labor is a study. No, not a completed study. The IDEA of a study, to work to address the challenges associated with implementation of the President's commitment. Nine months to come up with the idea that we need another study to answer the questions that the other gazillion studies have already answered.

The Pentagon lied last year when they said they were working on the implementation of a repeal of DADT. And now the White House expects us to wait at least another year for this "study" to be completed, to trust them this time when we were lied to a year ago. The Pentagon isn't doing anything, other than making a fool of their commander in chief.

posted by Joe Beese at 7:51 AM on February 2, 2010 [5 favorites]


Question: why the hell did Obama keep Gates anyway? I thought he won the election.

Becasue he fucking rocks. Cancelling useless weapons systems immediately and yesterday fired a two-star general in the Air Force because of huge cost overruns in the Joint Strike Fighter. Dude is a good guy doing a good job. A hard job. He's the perfect guy to end DADT too, years in the defense establishment, solid credentials, TAKES ORDERS WELL and a Republican.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:53 AM on February 2, 2010 [23 favorites]


Ironmouth: "TAKES ORDERS WELL and a Republican."

Indeed.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:55 AM on February 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


But I'll grant that in this case there's no reason for it take so long. With racial integration the structure of the military had to change: units had to be merged, soldiers had to be transferred, etc. In this case, gay soldiers already serve alongside straight soldiers, so it should be very simple.

The single biggest decision, frankly, ought to be whether to undo any dishonorable discharges related to DADT. I think the answer is clearly to change them all to honorable discharges, probably with some kind of compensation, plus an invitation to rejoin the military at their prior rank. I suspect reality will fall far short of that, though.

There will be dozens and dozens of parts of military operations this will touch. Benefits, fraternization, all of that.

It won't affect benefits. As Joe Beese pointed out, there is no gay marriage at the federal level, ergo no benefits for the spouses of gay soldiers. It shouldn't affect the rules about fraternization much either. Gay relationships should be treated the same as heterosexual ones. Anything you couldn't do with a soldier of the opposite sex you can't do with a soldier of the same sex.

This is going to require a lot of moving parts to be fixed, the Code of Military Justice, you name it. Prior to this, many of these activities were crimes. They'll have to track down every code section that applies and change it. Stuff like this just doesn't get done overnight.

When a court strikes down a law it generally does not require that the law actually be removed from the books. There's no reason why changes couldn't be dealt with on an as-needed basis while a formal revision of the UCMJ went on in the background at the same time.

Alternatively, how about they tell everyone in the JAG Corps that they can get no-questions-asked overtime pay for volunteering to work on the UCMJ revision. I have a feeling there are enough gay and gay-supportive JAGs that the project would be done within a week.
posted by jedicus at 7:57 AM on February 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


Joe, you're real good at identifying flaws but I'd like to hear you proposing some solutions.
posted by mpbx at 7:57 AM on February 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


Some high-ranking military officers are reluctant to embrace the change while troops are stretched thin at a time of two wars.

Yes, General, but the U.S. Army was integrated in 1951, during the Korean War, as Chinese troops poured over the border, and UN forces were having a really bad time of it. Moreover, the Army was integrated while blacks still suffered institutional racism everywhere else.

Man, I can't wait to see what my (conservative, veteran) coworkers have to say about this.

Tell the old timers that they showed us how to do it (see above) and maybe you won't get so much resistance from them. Once was a time in America when the Army lead the way in civil rights. Which is what they are supposed to be fighting for.

But I'll grant that in this case there's no reason for it take so long.

But it doesn't happen overnight. Look at Truman's timeline for desegregating the military.
posted by three blind mice at 8:04 AM on February 2, 2010


mpbx: "Joe, you're real good at identifying flaws but I'd like to hear you proposing some solutions."

Obama signs an Executive Order suspending all discharges under DADT "pending the findings of the Pentagon's review".

Not a "solution". But, as something, infinitely more than what Obama has done so far, which is nothing.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:09 AM on February 2, 2010 [6 favorites]


The Pentagon lied last year when they said they were working on the implementation of a repeal of DADT. And now the White House expects us to wait at least another year for this "study" to be completed, to trust them this time when we were lied to a year ago. The Pentagon isn't doing anything, other than making a fool of their commander in chief.

Really? Just because AmericaBlog says it, its true? Have they monitored what has been done so far? Is there a scrap of evidence that they haven't been working on this for some time? This is a gigantic undertaking. One totally worth getting right. Imagine if this gets bungled. Then the policy gets reversed, ace.

That would be totally the worst thing that could happen. You bet I want this done right. You bet I want this air-fucking tight and motherfucking irreversable. It is damn well idiotic to ram this through without getting this all worked out solid as a rock. The stakes are too high to try and win some "instant" poltical-victory that does nothing long-term for gays and gay rights. Trading the emotional feeling of "we won" for something solid and lasting is something I am definitely not in favor of.

I work with the federal government every single day. You wanna get on board? Start searching the 42 Chapters of Title 42 of the U.S. Code: War and National Defense.

Or perhaps the 29 Chapters of Title 32 of the Code of Federal Regulations: National Defense. Review these and forward your suggestions. You do realize that for every change to the C.F.R., there is a required by law proposed regulation period, where each and every change to the regulations can be commented on? And of course they must be commented on. Don't you want Human Rights Watch to have the time to comment on all of this, to have input even on the proposed regulations before they come out? Because, given the staff they have, they haven't even touched the surface of this stuff.

The other day, Joe you were talking about how we have bases in 130 countries. One of them is Saudia Arabia, one of them is Iraq. There, homosexuality is punishable by death. What's your plan to get around that? Worked that one out? Didn't think so. This will require re-negotiation of dozens of treaties with dozens of countries.

Time to get real, people. This is real life, not TV's the West Wing. Rob Lowe isn't goint to give a 2 minute synopsis of what this means and that's it. A change like this involves tons and tons of grunt work. And input from you and me in terms of comments on proposed regulations. If it gets done wrong, the GOP turns around when they get back into power and says "sorry it didn't work." Prepared to do that work yourself? No? Then step aside and let the work get done by people who work with this stuff every single day.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:10 AM on February 2, 2010 [40 favorites]


Seems like in that last few weeks Obama's gotten his balls back; the house GOP lashing, the repealing of DADT, I highly approve of this turn of events.
posted by ExitPursuedByBear at 8:13 AM on February 2, 2010


When a court strikes down a law it generally does not require that the law actually be removed from the books. There's no reason why changes couldn't be dealt with on an as-needed basis while a formal revision of the UCMJ went on in the background at the same time.

Alternatively, how about they tell everyone in the JAG Corps that they can get no-questions-asked overtime pay for volunteering to work on the UCMJ revision. I have a feeling there are enough gay and gay-supportive JAGs that the project would be done within a week.


Those changes need to be made by Congress. No one else can make them. No court will strike them down. This is the law. Things do not work as you say. And there will be some areas of the law where gay-advocacy groups will take opposite sides of the question, as well. This isn't a walk in the park. You don't just do things on an as-needed basis. Code sections refer to code sections refer to code sections.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:14 AM on February 2, 2010


but it will take some time to track down every effected code section.

God, I'm sorry. I made the most hated mistake there. I apolgize. Affected, Affected!
posted by Ironmouth at 8:16 AM on February 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ironmouth: "TAKES ORDERS WELL and a Republican."

Indeed.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:55 AM on February 2 [+] [!]


From the wikilink:
This investigation was substantially completed by September 3, 1991, at which time Independent Counsel determined that Gates' Iran-Contra activities and testimony did not warrant prosecution.
Damning, that.
posted by electroboy at 8:21 AM on February 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


The military forces of Britain, Canada, and Israel (among others) allow gays to serve openly. Surely they are as bureaucratic and hidebound as any other military (in the case of Britain, perhaps even moreso, given their long history), and they seem to have managed it without spending a 100 years "studying" the "problem" or wondering what to do about fraternization rules etc. We don't need to pretend like we're the only ones who have ever considered doing this. Why are we acting like we have to reinvent the wheel?

The UK has 3500 troops in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Somehow they manage this issue. Is the U.S. military so much stupider that they can't figure out how to set rules about this behavior?
posted by rtha at 8:23 AM on February 2, 2010 [12 favorites]


Ironmouth: "The other day, Joe you were talking about how we have bases in 130 countries. One of them is Saudia Arabia, one of them is Iraq. There, homosexuality is punishable by death. What's your plan to get around that? "

I can tell you, but you won't like it either.

And as far as credibility is concerned: I don't know that John Aravosis has ever deliberately lied to me. I know that the Pentagon has.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:23 AM on February 2, 2010


The other day, Joe you were talking about how we have bases in 130 countries. One of them is Saudia Arabia

Ah, no, we don't have any bases in Saudi Arabia anymore.
posted by jedicus at 8:33 AM on February 2, 2010


The UK has 3500 troops in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

Sorry. Meant to add a cite for that.
posted by rtha at 8:34 AM on February 2, 2010



Though I think it is worth changing, DADT, if you all remember, was a step forward in its day. It was a bridge between the appallingly ignorant fingers-in-the-ears posturing and a more reasoned approach, and it was all we could offer at the time.

Remember, all things archaic were progressive advances at some point (see Phonograph, ENIAC, etc.)
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 8:35 AM on February 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


The other day, Joe you were talking about how we have bases in 130 countries. One of them is Saudia Arabia, one of them is Iraq. There, homosexuality is punishable by death. What's your plan to get around that?

I don't understand. Is it your assertion that CPVPV going to storm U.S. bases, then capture and execute U.S. servicemembers?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:37 AM on February 2, 2010 [5 favorites]


"You know what? It did disrupt the unit. The unit got over it."

Fitzwallace for President!
posted by WolfDaddy at 8:38 AM on February 2, 2010 [10 favorites]


You want to make it about wedge politics GOP? Fine, you got motherfucking wedge politics. Here, have some gay soldiers. You smell what Barak is cookin' yet? How about some budget increases on medicare? You think you can get granny to reelect your ass if you fuck with those, I don't give a shit what kind of a bigot she is? You think you can handle a simultaneous cut in pork barrel spending with a boost in k-12 education spending? Let's see you fillibuster that shit. Yeah, you fucked with Barry. You thought you had him down, but he's comin' back with the biggest quarter growth since you morons invaded iraq and a full barrel center left agenda, biatches!
posted by Pollomacho at 8:40 AM on February 2, 2010 [5 favorites]


Alternatively, how about they tell everyone in the JAG Corps that they can get no-questions-asked overtime pay

Ugh. Read this proposal every time you think for a moment that maybe the government spends too much money needlessly. (Alternatively, if this is so important and will take so many hours, how about hire more people so you can just pay them a normal wage and not pay the existing people time and a half? [Not to mention that the people you're talking about are probably exempt anyway.])
posted by The World Famous at 8:45 AM on February 2, 2010


If the British army can have gay padres (chaplains) with spouses who enjoy the same spouses as all Army spouses, let alone serving soldiers and officers who are openly gay with partners, I think the US army can handle having openly gay people serving with them.
Perhaps marriages aren't recognised for same-sex couples in the US, but does the military there recognise de facto relationships? And could this cover same-sex couples?
posted by Megami at 8:48 AM on February 2, 2010


Optimus Chyme: "Is it your assertion that CPVPV going to storm U.S. bases, then capture and execute U.S. servicemembers?"

I was wondering that myself. Perhaps he's imagining off-duty service members cruising in town and getting busted.

If so, I would point out that imposing local justice on occupying US servicemen is usually fraught with difficulty.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:49 AM on February 2, 2010


Alternatively, if this is so important and will take so many hours, how about hire more people so you can just pay them a normal wage and not pay the existing people time and a half?

Because it's not particularly efficient to base the size of your workforce on rare large projects? Particularly when it's the government/military and it's quite difficult to hire people on a temporary basis, especially when those people have to go through a long training period?
posted by jedicus at 8:50 AM on February 2, 2010


Seems like in that last few weeks Obama's gotten his balls back

I think How Obama Got His Balls Back is the sequel to How Stella Got Her Groove Back.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:50 AM on February 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Fitzwallace for President!

Too bad he's dead! SORT OF SPOILER, KINDA. SORRY. ISH.

posted by grapefruitmoon at 8:51 AM on February 2, 2010


The military forces of Britain, Canada, and Israel (among others) allow gays to serve openly. Surely they are as bureaucratic and hidebound as any other military (in the case of Britain, perhaps even moreso, given their long history), and they seem to have managed it without spending a 100 years "studying" the "problem" or wondering what to do about fraternization rules etc. We don't need to pretend like we're the only ones who have ever considered doing this. Why are we acting like we have to reinvent the wheel?

The UK has 3500 troops in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Somehow they manage this issue. Is the U.S. military so much stupider that they can't figure out how to set rules about this behavior?


Those armed forces are a speck compared to the US. The US has 1,473,900 active personnel, 1,458,500 reserve personnel and employs 1,022,298 civilians. It spends $664 billion per year. It accounts for 40% of all military spending on earth and 4.7% of US GDP.

The UK military? 240,000 active personnel, 232,000 reservists, 41,600 "volunteer" reserve. It employs only 100,000 civilians. It spends 42 billion pounds a year.

Israeli military? 176,500 active members

Canada? 67,756 active duty personnel. It is the 34th largest military in the world.

The US dwarfs these millitaries. The problems of running the largest military ever on the face of the earth (by expenditure and second largest by personnel) are huge. This is a huge problem that has to get done right.

Plus this is getting done in the teeth of opposition by the GOP, a party until recently held the majority in both Houses of Congress and the Presidency. During those years, no planning for repeal of DADT occured.

As Obama said on Friday, he never said change was going to be easy. He said he can't do it alone. He's right.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:54 AM on February 2, 2010 [2 favorites]



Er, no.

On July 26, 1951, the US Army formally announced its plans to desegregate, exactly three years after Truman issued Executive Order 9981.

posted by Joe Beese at 10:38 AM on February 2 [+] [!]


Well, complicated:

The Air Force's integration plan had gone to the Secretary of Defense on 6 January 1949, committing that service to a major reorganization of its manpower. In a period of severe budget and manpower retrenchment, the Air Force was proposing to open all jobs in all fields to Negroes, subject only to the individual qualifications of the men and the needs of the service ....

During most of the nineteenth century, for example, Negroes served in an integrated U.S. Navy, in the latter half of the century averaging between 20 and 30 percent of the enlisted strength. But the employment of Negroes in the Navy was abruptly curtailed after 1900 ...

The changing government attitude toward integration in the late 1940's had less dramatic effect on the Navy than upon the other services because the Navy was already the conspicuous possessor of a racial policy guaranteeing equal treatment and opportunity for all its members. But as the Fahy Committee and many other critics insisted, the Navy's 1946 equality guarantee was largely theoretical ...

Submitted to and approved by the Secretary of Defense, the new Navy plan announced on 7 June 1949 called for a specific series of measures to bring departmental practices into line with policy. Once he had gained Johnson's approval, Secretary of the Navy Matthews did not tarry. On 23 June he issued an explicit statement to all ships and stations, abjuring racial distinctions in the Navy and Marine Corps and ordering that all personnel be enlisted or appointed, trained, advanced or promoted, assigned and administered without regard to race, color, religion, or national origin

posted by Comrade_robot at 8:58 AM on February 2, 2010


Ironmouth: "As Obama said on Friday, he never said change was going to be easy. He said he can't do it alone. He's right."

It helps if you try.

February 28, 2008 - As your President, I will use the bully pulpit to urge states to treat same-sex couples with full equality in their family and adoption laws.

November 2, 2009 - Obama Campaign Arm Silent On Maine's Anti-Gay Marriage Amendment
posted by Joe Beese at 9:02 AM on February 2, 2010


What, no grammar nazi / LMFTFY post yet?

"An official military investigation into abandoning Don't Ask Don't Tell will begin today, lead led by Defense Secretary Robert Gates. "
posted by joshwa at 9:03 AM on February 2, 2010


Call me crazy, but somehow I suspect that arch-conservative right wing hack Robert Gates will find that repealing DADT would be horrible for the troops and recommend that it continue.

I think you're crazy. I'm pretty sure that Gates has publicly supported getting rid of DADT. Gates isn't a right wing hack, he's generally pretty moderate.

Question: why the hell did Obama keep Gates anyway? I thought he won the election.

Because 1) it was a lovely bipartisan gesture, and 2) Gates is actually sane, and a pretty damn good secdef. He's everything Rumsfeld wasn't. He just fired the head of the F-35 program over cost overruns, and told Lockheed-Martin they weren't getting $600MM in performance bonuses.
posted by fatbird at 9:03 AM on February 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


There, homosexuality is punishable by death.

Yes, wouldn't want to put soldiers in harm's way. Maybe we could give them guns?
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:04 AM on February 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Too bad he's dead!

So what? His replacement was John Locke and since everything takes place in Tommy Westphall's mind (which I believe is a subset of The Island, itself a subset of some sort of Timecube), anything can happen and I can vote the way I like!!! So there!
posted by WolfDaddy at 9:08 AM on February 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


Because it's not particularly efficient to base the size of your workforce on rare large projects? Particularly when it's the government/military and it's quite difficult to hire people on a temporary basis, especially when those people have to go through a long training period?

When the large project will take several years, and when JAG Corps personnel commonly only stay in their job for a few years, it is tremendously efficient to base the size of the workforce, in part, on that massive project. I wouldn't call "massive multi-year project requiring a lot of people" to be a "temporary basis." Nor would I call JAG training a "long training period."
posted by The World Famous at 9:14 AM on February 2, 2010


Ironmouth: "As Obama said on Friday, he never said change was going to be easy. He said he can't do it alone. He's right."

It helps if you try.


Love how he announces that DADT is going to be repealed and you indicate he's not trying. The President has been trying to pass health care, fight two wars and fight the biggest recesssion since the Great Depression. But that aint enough for you.

I'm sure President Kucinich and his "Department of Peace" would have gotten this done so much faster. Because he would have twisted Joe Lieberman's arm and gotten him to pass the Universal Health Care he campaigned on.

Seriously, get real.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:15 AM on February 2, 2010 [7 favorites]


Ironmouth: "Love how he announces that DADT is going to be repealed and you indicate he's not trying."

Just so I'm clear, which announcement are you referring to?

April 11, 2008 - Obama: I'll end don't-ask, don't-tell

June 1, 2009 - Obama reiterates promise to 'end' 'Don't Ask'

October 10, 2009 - Obama HRC Speech: "I Will End Don't Ask, Don't Tell

January 27, 2010 - Obama calls for 'don't ask, don't tell' repeal
posted by Joe Beese at 9:43 AM on February 2, 2010


The problems of running the largest military ever on the face of the earth (by expenditure and second largest by personnel) are huge. This is a huge problem that has to get done right.

I totally agree. My point was that our military isn't the only one to deal with this. The UK's forces, while smaller in number than ours, is still flung to the far parts of the globe and has a ton of money spent on it, and they have managed to figure this issue out.

The size of our military does not make us such special snowflakes. And the more the pro-DADT forces whine about how they haven't had time to "study" the issue or how worried they are about how to handle soldiers being scared of taking a shower with someone who might be gay (newsflash: they already are!), the less seriously I can take their concerns.
posted by rtha at 9:43 AM on February 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


Not a "solution". But, as something, infinitely more than what Obama has done so far, which is nothing.

We expect the Department of Defense to announce at the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Feb. 2 that "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" discharges were down by almost 30 percent last year.

He's quietly winding down enforcement, while simultaneously getting ready to pick a very public fight with conservatives both in the Pentagon and in Congress over this issue. He knows public sentiment is on his side, he knows the Republicans don't want this fight, and he knows he's going to win.

I'm often skeptical of the claims that Obama's playing 12-dimensional chess, but in this case he's running a very savvy political game. Don't Ask, Don't Tell will be gone by the end of his first term, and the process is going to make opponents of repeal look like morons. That's not at all the result you'd get from an "arbitrary" (which is how conservatives would spin it) executive order suspending the policy.
posted by EarBucket at 9:45 AM on February 2, 2010 [4 favorites]


Speaking of getting real, Ironmouth, what's the problem with gay and lesbian servicemembers in Iraq and Saudi Arabia? Are the Iraqis and Saudis going to try to get them? You realize that we already have gay and lesbian servicemembers serving in Iraq and Saudi Arabia, right? There are no Scuds with G.A.Y.D.A.R. modifications so they can target just gay soliders. What, I beg you, are you getting at?

Also, in response to why this can't be done without years and years of study, you just posted links that say "the U.S. military is big." That's not an answer. You're just attempting to obfuscate the issue with irrelevant data.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:46 AM on February 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Republicans don't want this fight" link should have gone here.
posted by EarBucket at 9:46 AM on February 2, 2010


EarBucket: "Don't Ask, Don't Tell will be gone by the end of his first term..."

It remains to be seen whether there will be a second.

As to your timetable...

... what happens if we lose the Senate or the House in the November elections? What happens if we hold our majorities but lose significant numbers of members in each body? What happens if the Presidential election season starts next year, which it will? What happens if we don't finish working on this until 2012, another congressional election year? What happens if we're still not out of Iraq and Afghanistan next year and the military says "too soon to lift DADT"? ...

This thing got dragged out in 1993, and it destroyed us. I was there, volunteering for Senator Kennedy's office, working with his staffer on DADT repeal. The Pentagon has the same game plan today that they had then. Delay, study, and all the while sow misinformation, scare the public, rile up the right-wing. The longer this gets drawn out, the harder it will get to win. It's health care reform all over again. A weak, hands-off president endorses a long drawn out process run by his political enemies. And he thinks that this time they won't run circles around him and make a fool of him, again.

posted by Joe Beese at 10:04 AM on February 2, 2010


Top brass: Gays should be in military.
posted by ericb at 10:09 AM on February 2, 2010


Because he would have twisted Joe Lieberman's arm

While I rarely consider this sort of thing positive, twisting almost any part of Joe Lieberman until it snapped sounds like a good idea.

I'm pretty sure Jackass Joe is against the repeal of DADT simply because someone thought it was a good idea.

(No, I have no respect for Joe Lieberman, why do you ask?)
posted by mephron at 10:12 AM on February 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


This isn't a walk in the park.
"We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.
—John F. Kennedy
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:13 AM on February 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


. . . because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone . . .

That's the part that you should have put in bold.
posted by The World Famous at 10:17 AM on February 2, 2010


"A CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll conducted December 19-21 found that 81 percent of respondents believe openly gay people should be allowed to serve in the U.S. military, while 17 percent said they shouldn't." (December 2008).

"...in 2006, a poll by Zogby International of 545 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans found that three-quarters were comfortable around gay service members."

"...In 1993, 52 percent of Americans opposed gays in the military. Last year, only 17 percent opposed it."
posted by ericb at 10:20 AM on February 2, 2010


It remains to be seen whether there will be a second.

Good luck with that Nader guy. That's worked out really well in the past.

The Pentagon has the same game plan today that they had then. Delay, study, and all the while sow misinformation, scare the public, rile up the right-wing.

Oh, come on. The Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs both testified today that they want to repeal the policy. Anyone who claims we're in the same place we were seventeen years ago is flat out lying.
posted by EarBucket at 10:22 AM on February 2, 2010


“Obama signs an Executive Order suspending all discharges under DADT "pending the findings of the Pentagon's review".”

Naturally Bush is a big hero for the stop loss order which also halted discharges for gay and lesbian troops which, of course, halted DADT forever.

Obama could issue an order. I’m with Ironmouth that there’s no guarantee it’d stick. And there’s a lot of work that needs to be done. But I do think an executive order would make a nice beachhead and statement of principle. I see no reason not to do it. And it would probably help – leadership is pretty important in the military. While I like the inclusive style Obama has, there’s no real room for it when he’s in the CiC mode.

And one has to spend it to make it. We’re wasting loads of talent and training as it is. Doing the work as fast as possible will not only end the obvious rights issue here, but put an end to ditching (otherwise) quality people.

But this ‘he’s not doing anything’ is crap though. Senior officers from all branches have been meeting with their opposite numbers in the U.K. and elsewhere on best practices for integrating homosexuals for at least a year, so Obama likely started on this, albeit quietly, from near day one. Fortune favors the prepared. (Yeah, ok Virgil said ‘the bold,’ but he also said ‘the gates of Hell are open night and day; smooth the descent and easy is the way’ in the same book, so bold but not short sighted, yeah?)

I’d speculate he’s going through the steps to secularly consecrate this and make it solid and hallowed by all the wise men. RAND had a study in 93 which said there’d be no problem. But people have memories that last 1/2 a minute at best between beer commercials.
But that’s speculation.

Always had a problem with how to do housing. Birthing could be done informally. But the restriction as to being housed with a member of the opposite sex would have to be lifted. Housing facilities are (officially) segregated in terms of gender. That would have to change. Something I’d like to see really.
Not the least of which is that article 125 under the UCMJ could be applied to opposite sex married couples as well (anal and oral are ‘unnatural copulation’). I don’t know that Congress has gotten around to fixing the outlaw blowjob (name of my high school band).
Hell, masturbation could be considered loss of government property. So the whole thing is a bit screwy since everyone's been putting it off since ... well, since plochops and anal were considered 'unnatural' - since before June and Ward were sleeping in separate beds.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:28 AM on February 2, 2010 [5 favorites]


EarBucket: "The Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs both testified today that they want to repeal the policy. Anyone who claims we're in the same place we were seventeen years ago is flat out lying."

Good thing then Aravosis says nothing of the kind.

Shall we review?

A weak, hands-off president endorses a long drawn out process run by his political enemies.

If you'd like to challenge any of those assertions, go on with your bad self.

However, please note that being called a Nader-ite hasn't made me cry since at least 2002.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:35 AM on February 2, 2010


I actually just called my senators and representative last week about this issue. As an officer in the Navy, I pointed out that often the military is seen as one monolithic, conservative block. There is a difference between public policy (which as members of the military we're sworn to uphold) and private opinion (which is ours as citizens of the US and cannot be revoked). I also said that I have a freedom to push for this that the gay and lesbian sailors do not: they endager their employment if they politically campaign for repeal. The status quo is the only legal position for them to take.

I know quite a few gay and lesbian service members, and most are not in any danger of getting kicked out. Public opinion is pro-DADT, and even overt homophobes are rarer than they used to be. The predominate view from the opposition to the repeal is that the present system works just fine. I try to point out that it works just fine for them personally because they are not gay. They don't have to lie, cover up, or in other ways decieve their fellow servicemembers. They don't have to fear that their job and service will be unjustly terminated in a second for something they don't control. They don't have to worry, so yes, the system does work for them. In the name of keeping it "out of their face", they support DADT. They will, begrudingly, support the new policy once it becomes official. They won't like it. They'll talk about how it should be like the old days. But as time goes by, they'll realize that most of the sailors that they found were gay after the switch are the same alright people that don't want to put anything in their face anyway. They will learn, but only after the policy gets repealed. Until then, what do they have to gain?

The only gay and lesbian members that I have heard get discharged come from two groups: those trying to get out of the military whether gay or straight and those that do something so blatant that the command cannot avoid processing them. The first catagory is actually rather advantageous as you will get a "special" discharge that changes into an honorable after a certain period of time. The only time you would get a Dishonorable or Bad Conduct or Other than Honorable Discharge is if a crime was involved in the act (fraternization, rape, etc.).

No, the big danger of the DADT is not actually the discharge aspect which (nowadays) affect very few gay and lesbian service members. The danger is what I mentioned before: the fear. The fact that if you're gay SO abuses you, you can't get legal recourse. If something goes pear-shape, you can't do anything about it. Hell, you can't talk about it. In the military, we have a HUGE support structure designed around ensuring that the service member is taken care of. As a gay or lesbian sailor, half of that doesn't function because you're basically encouraged to lie about your life. That is the great tragedy of DADT, the way that it holds all of the members silent. Sure, you can make it through your whole time through the military without any trouble, but only if you're silent. Only if you don't let any aspect of your life go, only if you're on guard against your fellow trooper 24/7. That is the real tyranny.

I have to support what Ironmouth is saying; the military is a monolithic organization that has to have EVERYTHING change. What about bearthing? You would say, suck it up and deal with it, but some people WON'T deal with it. Send them home from deployment if they don't want to sleep near a gay man? Well, that transfer budget is strained already. Oh, now other people suddenly don't want to deal with it either because it's a free ticket out of deployment. How about health care? Psych care? Beneficiaries? Seperation Allowances? Command Picnics? Rumor mills? Fraternization policies? Pre-existing discharges? As must as it's easy to say change the "hetero" police to "homo and hetero" policy, there's a lot of things that need to be done. The military is as close to a socialist culture as you can get in the USA and therefore everything affects everything and touches in ways that you can't just say "deal with it". You don't just fire the people you don't like and hire the people you do, because the military don't work like that (it must engender loyalty, job experience, corporate knowledge, the belief that things at home will be taken care of when they're away). These are major issues. And they take a lot of work. I want DADT ended yesterday, but I'm not naive to believe that these things don't really need to be worked out. It will take time.

The President, however, can issue an executive order to prevent discharges perhaps (I'm not a JAG), or in other ways mitigate the effects until the ban goes down. I don't really know if he's just trying to prevent expending political capital until the push comes to pass legislation. Remember that the Constitution gives Congress exclusive power to regulate the military; all the executive can do is run it.

So, call your reps, tell them your stories, make them understand that the repeal is both common sense and the right thing to do. Make them realize that the public opinion has changed. That's what we can do, and we don't even have to leave our computers.

(Oh, by the way, whoever was recommending JAG's just work on this on their overtime: members of the military are salaried and don't get overtime, and JAG's often don't have the time with which overtime would take place. Really, the military is trying to do so much with so little already. Just hire some more people if you want the manpower.)
posted by Lord Chancellor at 10:47 AM on February 2, 2010 [14 favorites]


Good thing then Aravosis says nothing of the kind.

He claims the Pentagon "has the same game plan today that they had then." I pointed out that the claim is absurd, as both the top civilian and military authorities at the Pentagon support repeal.

Changes like this do not happen overnight. Large organizations like the Pentagon are prone to conservatism and inertia, and you can't just wave a magic wand and change them. I agree with you that Obama could be moving faster on this, but your assertion that he hasn't done anything simply isn't true.
posted by EarBucket at 10:47 AM on February 2, 2010


I fear the not-asking will harm the investigative process, and the not-telling will seriously undermine the final report.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:53 AM on February 2, 2010


Birthing could be done informally.

I think any births in the field would be pretty informal by definition.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:55 AM on February 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


No, the big danger of the DADT is not actually the discharge aspect which (nowadays) affect very few gay and lesbian service members.

The military has discharged over 13,000 troops from the military under DADT.

For example:
2004 -- 668

2005 -- 742

2006 -- 623

2007 -- 627

2008 -- 619.
posted by ericb at 10:59 AM on February 2, 2010


Palm Center: How to End "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" -- "This report addresses political, legal, regulatory, and organizational steps to ensure a smooth end to 'don't ask, don't tell'."

Another great resource: Servicemembers United.
posted by ericb at 11:02 AM on February 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


2008 -- 619

First off, that's a very small number for an organization the size that it is. Second, this doesn't show the circumstances involving the discharge: either a criminal discharge due to rape or fraternization, or using the DADT pusposefully as an escape hatch for both gay and straight personnel (I've met a few straight members that said they were gay so they could go home).
posted by Lord Chancellor at 11:03 AM on February 2, 2010


I just had lunch with someone very very close to someone in the loop on this. Pentagon on board.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:03 AM on February 2, 2010


I have to support what Ironmouth is saying; the military is a monolithic organization that has to have EVERYTHING change. What about bearthing? You would say, suck it up and deal with it, but some people WON'T deal with it. Send them home from deployment if they don't want to sleep near a gay man?

What did they do with the guys who said "I won't sleep next to/share a foxhole with/take orders from a n*gger"?

I imagine that the military said "Tough shit, soldier." Or were they sending these guys home from Korea in 1952? Or Vietnam in 1965?
posted by rtha at 11:04 AM on February 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


...that's a very small number for an organization the size that it is.
posted by ericb at 11:06 AM on February 2, 2010


Oops ... well that's 619 too many.
posted by ericb at 11:07 AM on February 2, 2010


What did they do with the guys who said "I won't sleep next to/share a foxhole with/take orders from a n*gger"?

I imagine that the military said "Tough shit, soldier." Or were they sending these guys home from Korea in 1952? Or Vietnam in 1965?


Well, some they just disciplined, but others they did send home. For some commands at the time, they very "liberally" implimented the President's directive to actually aid those bigotted hold-out. We don't hear about them as much anymore, but it certainly happened. As much as people say that those in the military should be able to follow orders, the circumventing of directives is done all the time. Hazing still continues. Initiations still walk a fine line too. And gay and lesbian members, yes, they too are circumventing regulations much of the time. I don't understand how you can think that suddenly one order just makes everyone quit what they were doing. It takes time, it takes work, it takes manpower, it takes education, it takes systems of support, and it takes a cultural change. The integration of the armed servives back in 40's and 50's took a lot.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 11:08 AM on February 2, 2010


I just popped in from reading the FoxNews comments threads on this - it's nice to remind myself once in a while that, whilst I'm pretty right wing for Mefi, I'm so far too the left of other people!
posted by prentiz at 11:13 AM on February 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


Oops ... well that's 619 too many.

Of course it is. I'm sure you're not a fan of letting people out of the military after sending them to their service schools just because they don't want to serve either (it is a big waste of tax payer money), and more important than that, the honest to goodness service members who want to stay in, committed no unreg acts otherwise, and are just at the wrong place at the wrong time. I'm very anti-DADT. I'm just speaking that the cultural effect of DADT is much larger than 619 people that we talk about. It's the thousands and thousands that still serve. That fear that they could be fired. I don't talk about those 619 as much because there are many that aren't valid and it can be used as talking point to keep those laws on the books. It's deplorable, but I'm worrying about a bigger fish, but one much harder to nail with stats. However, I will not begrude you for working on that problem, and I applaud your dedication.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 11:13 AM on February 2, 2010


Mullins seems to be onboard, as it were.
posted by Danf at 11:35 AM on February 2, 2010


er, Mullen.
posted by Danf at 11:36 AM on February 2, 2010




What did they do with the guys who said "I won't sleep next to/share a foxhole with/take orders from a n*gger"?

I imagine that the military said "Tough shit, soldier." Or were they sending these guys home from Korea in 1952? Or Vietnam in 1965?


usually, once you're in the foxhole with them, whatever the color of the guy next to you, he's shooting at those Chi-Coms too, so that kind of ends that little converstation pretty quick.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:40 AM on February 2, 2010


I don't know that John Aravosis has ever deliberately lied to me.

Not saying he is. Saying he isn't taking into account what it takes to move something as large as the DoD.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:44 AM on February 2, 2010


This is real life, not TV's the West Wing. Rob Lowe isn't goint to give a 2 minute synopsis of what this means and that's it.

Still sad about that :(
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:47 AM on February 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't understand how you can think that suddenly one order just makes everyone quit what they were doing.

I don't really think that, and I don't want to give the impression that my fightiness is directed entirely or solely at folks here who are saying that the issue is complex, things take time, etc. I'm mostly pissed off at the years of foot-dragging the Pentagon has engaged in, and the idea that we are so special and different from other military organizations that we have to act like it's never been done before and can't learn anything from them, or from other similar circumstances (e.g. desegregation). We are now, obviously, at a major turning point. Finally. But yeah, I'm still pissed off about the years of lies, and the thousands of ruined and derailed lives that this policy caused.
posted by rtha at 11:49 AM on February 2, 2010


I'm mostly pissed off at the years of foot-dragging the Pentagon has engaged in, and the idea that we are so special and different from other military organizations that we have to act like it's never been done before and can't learn anything from them, or from other similar circumstances (e.g. desegregation). We are now, obviously, at a major turning point. Finally. But yeah, I'm still pissed off about the years of lies, and the thousands of ruined and derailed lives that this policy caused.

Blame Bush for that shit, not Obama. Obama's the one making the changes.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:06 PM on February 2, 2010


What did they do with the guys who said "I won't sleep next to/share a foxhole with/take orders from a n*gger"?

Except the problem is they're not looking at it like that. They're looking at it like "I am a woman who won't sleep next to a man."

(Of course, there are already gays and lesbians in the military in those foxholes or showers or wherever without any crisis...)
posted by lullaby at 12:10 PM on February 2, 2010


I totally agree. My point was that our military isn't the only one to deal with this. The UK's forces, while smaller in number than ours, is still flung to the far parts of the globe and has a ton of money spent on it, and they have managed to figure this issue out.

But it is so much easier to do this in the UK. The PM can basically do what he wants with the military. Labor had gigantic majorities for 10 years and no President to worry about. Congress has the exclusive right to regulate the military via the constitution.

Our founding fathers deliberately made change difficult because they saw the problem from the persepctive of people who felt that government had changed too much too fast and hurt them. So they put breaks in there. That's what is the problem here.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:21 PM on February 2, 2010


On July 26, 1951, the US Army formally announced its plans to desegregate, exactly three years after Truman issued Executive Order 9981.


The biggest difference between the military in 1951 and the military now is that in '51 we still had the draft. With the all volunteer force, people can vote with their feet. While I don't foresee a huge exodus due to repealing DADT, it's not a problem we can ignore, especially with two wars going on. The biggest problem that I've seen suggested is that the folks who poll as most opposed to this change within the military are the mid-level enlisted and officers - your senior LTs and Majors or Sergeants and Petty Officers. If you lose too many of those mid-level folks, it really affects your readiness. I mean, you can drag in 10 folks off the street and make then Privates in about 90 days but it takes years to make a good Sergeant.

I support doing away with DADT but I understand why big military is dragging it's feet. It's too bad we didn't to it under Clinton because the mid-90s were a whole lot of nothing for the military and we could have dealt with the lumps, worked out the kinks and been over it by 2001. But we didn't and now we have to deal with what we've got.
posted by macfly at 12:24 PM on February 2, 2010


Blame Bush for that shit, not Obama. Obama's the one making the changes.

Why should I blame Bush? Clinton was the one who started this whole mess.

I've said nothing about Obama in this thread. To my way of thinking, he's kind of had a lot on his plate since he took office, and I'm just glad that he'd getting around to it in the first year-ish.
posted by rtha at 1:10 PM on February 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Meanwhile, the peanut gallery chimes in:

"This would be a substantial and controversial change to a policy that has been successful for two decades. It would also present yet another challenge to our military at a time of already tremendous stress and strain. Our men and women in uniform are fighting two wars, guarding the frontlines against a global terrorist enemy, serving and sacrificing on battlefields far from home, and working to rebuild and reform the force after more than eight years of conflict. At this moment of immense hardship for our armed services, we should not be seeking to overturn the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy." -- John McCain, February 2, 2010
posted by blucevalo at 1:49 PM on February 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


And I understand the opposition to it, and I‘ve had these debates and discussions, but the day that the leadership of the military comes to me and says, Senator, we ought to change the policy, then I think we ought to consider seriously changing it because those leaders in the military are the ones we give the responsibility to. -- John McCain, October 18, 2006
posted by EarBucket at 2:21 PM on February 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


The comparison between DADT and the racial integration of the military, while obvious, is probably of little use. In addition to the issues others have mentioned above, the end of segregation in the military (and in the Army in particular) was tied to the 1948 presidential election, Truman's slashing of the military budget, the bureaucratic wrangling that followed the creation of the Department of Defense, Louis Johnson's disastrous tenure as the second Secretary of Defense, a large and vocal black press that has no analogue today, and above all else, the desperate need for manpower in the early months of the Korean War.

The end of DADT, when it comes (and I believe it is coming sooner rather than later), is more likely to result from increasing tolerance among the general public. While ending the ban would allow the military to legally retain troops with much-needed specialties (such as linguist Dan Choi), it won't result in massive changes to overall effectiveness. The military was indeed a pioneer in racial integration (the Air Force by choice, the Army by necessity), but in this case I expect it to be a follower.
posted by Rangeboy at 2:57 PM on February 2, 2010


The comparison between DADT and the racial integration of the military, while obvious, is probably of little use. In addition to the issues others have mentioned above, the end of segregation in the military (and in the Army in particular) was tied to the 1948 presidential election, Truman's slashing of the military budget, the bureaucratic wrangling that followed the creation of the Department of Defense, Louis Johnson's disastrous tenure as the second Secretary of Defense, a large and vocal black press that has no analogue today, and above all else, the desperate need for manpower in the early months of the Korean War. The end of DADT, when it comes (and I believe it is coming sooner rather than later), is more likely to result from increasing tolerance among the general public. While ending the ban would allow the military to legally retain troops with much-needed specialties (such as linguist Dan Choi), it won't result in massive changes to overall effectiveness. The military was indeed a pioneer in racial integration (the Air Force by choice, the Army by necessity), but in this case I expect it to be a follower.posted by Rangeboy at 5:57 PM on February 2 [+] [!]

Fascinating, Rangeboy. Note also that the Navy had apparently been integrated since the early 20th Century--although African-Americans were normally ratings and usually cooks.

Having said that, I agree that this is more about what a change like this means for the society for a whole than the military. It will mean better lives for the gays and lesbians already there, but there will be no major impact because they are already serving their country honorably.

And that thought brings me to a funny remark made by Fran Liebowitz on the Letterman show a few years back--tounge-in-cheek she asked "what's with the Gays? There the only people in this country wanting to get married and join the military."

I think this will say more about the society. Plus it will be way harder for conservative states to deny marriage to gays and lesbians who have put themselves in harm's way for their country.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:23 PM on February 2, 2010


“The UK's forces, while smaller in number than ours, is still flung to the far parts of the globe and has a ton of money spent on it, and they have managed to figure this issue out.”
Well, they had to. Some ex-servicemembers filed suit and the European Court pushed the U.K. to do it.

“Clinton was the one who started this whole mess.”

It kind of got out from under him. He thought he could do it with just an Executive Order. Not so much. Congress made the law. The EO was a sort of half ass addendum.
The beef here, far as I can see, is over implementation (the practical problems as a matter of scale aside). As in, how to repeal it and replace it. Not only by policy direction but in the law.
Which is the problem. It’s not a DOD policy. It’s a codified law. So it needs legislation. By congress.
Which can be struck down if it’s not properly implemented as unconstitutional by the supreme cour… did anyone have high school civics class? This is basic stuff.

Those changes have to be hashed out otherwise you’re going to have very serious practical issues and so lawsuits by the anti-gay folks on matters as abstract as the gay contact and support networks (developed by any community within a larger community) which may have been tolerated by more sympathetic or less by the book officers but won’t (and can’t) be tolerated because it violates fraternization regs to as down home as barracks upgrades for varying degrees of privacy (depending on where the lines are (re?)drawn for gender).

Then you have sexual harassment regulations, etc. – all this not in opposition to changing but as looking at the mechanism and work involved. There are regulations for EVERYTHING.
I think the statement has been made as to a change, maybe it should be augmented.
But once the core value is there the rest is simple. Backbreaking and intensive and meticulous in labor, but simple in that the question of whether or not to do it has been settled. Matter of time after that.

I can’t really fault the impatience because it’s not my rights getting stepped on, but many comments (in the news, et.al “he’s buying time until the next election”), are devoid of folks with any military perspective or experience at all (in this thread alone you have at least three – you’re welcome). And from that perspective this is on fire. Anyone with that ear can catch the comments from the DoD and the Pentagon and say “man, they’re really hauling ass.”
I can understand that it looks glacial from the outside.

Under Clinton (far as I can tell) it was more political and the opposition on this had some backing from the military. On this the military is mostly saying “no, go fuck yourself” to the GOP.
Oh, “Sir, I respectfully submit that the data on this may not be representational of your position” sounds very nice. But yeah, it’s “go fuck yourself.”

And McCain – jeez, Squirrel Tooth Alice wasn’t on her back as much. Is there any ass he won’t kiss anymore? Hey John, greasing your pants and painting your ass blue – comments? “Well, that sounds crazy” The GOP leadership said they’re for it. “I mean, it would be crazy not to grease your pants up. And my family has had painted blue asses for generations.” Thanks buddy.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:25 PM on February 2, 2010 [5 favorites]


Why should I blame Bush? Clinton was the one who started this whole mess.

Seriously, believe it or not, DADT was a radical step forward compared to what existed previously. Don't you recall how insane the rightwing went when Clinton proposed this? The tours of crew areas showing how close sailors had to sleep? The screaming about morale and how Clinton the draft dodger was out to destroy the military? It was sickening. I understand people's complaints about DADT but you can't misstate the history. He tried, he compromised with something that doesn't work very well and has to change again, finally. But Clinton is not the bad guy.
posted by etaoin at 7:01 PM on February 2, 2010


I'm not really sure why people assume that getting rid of DADT necessarily implies a lot of sweeping changes in quarters, berthing, the construction of barracks, etc.

As far as I know, my local gym allows gay people, and they still have a Mens and a Womens locker room. It's not "Men and Butch Lesbians" or something. Which locker room you go into is a gender issue, not a sexual-orientation one. And while gender and orientation are certainly related, and there's a whole separate conversation we could have about gender issues in public spaces (to say nothing of the military), that's not really the issue on the table.

Right now, there are gay people in the military, and they rack out with people in their unit of the same gender. I would expect that if DADT were eliminated, that they'd still be sleeping in the same bunk. The idea of having separate quarters for gay people strikes me as segregationist and probably a step backwards.

And I don't really see why it would require any changes to the fraternization rules; most of them are not gender-specific that I've seen anyway. It's verboten for a male and a female to get it on in the barracks; no reason why the situation would be any different for two males or two females. The only change here would be that, currently, conceivably two people of the same sex who got caught, shall we say, in flagrante delicto might get outprocessed under DADT (since, IIRC, one of the ways you can "tell" under DADT is by having sex with someone of the same sex, along with marrying them or admitting to being homosexual); now that situation would be treated like a normal breaking of the no-sex-in-the-barracks rule. Or of officer/enlisted fraternization, if it was an E and O.

I don't really see, besides the DADT policy itself, that there are that many other policies that need changing. That's not to say that I don't respect the scale of making any change to the DoD as a whole (I've worked in the bowels of that organization at times; changing anything is mind-bogglingly difficult) just that some of the things people seem to be mentioning strike me as non-issues.

Perhaps the biggest issue would be military benefits and the treatment of gay partners, in the absence of marriage (and the necessity of working around DOMA). I see the potential for gay people to still get screwed there, since my guess is that the policy simply won't change, and gay people will end up getting treated like an unmarried heterosexual couple until DOMA gets repealed. But maybe I'll get surprised (I was kinda stunned to see that Adm Mullen had a Twitter account, so maybe there's hope for the DoD yet).
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:14 PM on February 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Simply put, the reason you don't ExecOrder the end of DADT is that Congress won't do a damned thing to kill the law then. Why should they expend political capital when the "fight's won"?

Esp. when everyone'll be so bust celebrating the moment we forget that it means the next craptasic President we get can reinstate it with the swipe of a pen. When we're so avoidant of managing Congress -- the people who make the laws, the people we should be lobbying on these matters. There's a reason companies "buy" Congresspeople, and not White House staff, dammit!

One would think we've learned from the Abortion Rights fight -- get it into law, people. Stop fighting rear-guard actions on basic civil rights, dammit. That's clearly what Obama's doing, here, with the laying of groundwork and process for getting it done in a way that'll stick, and won't be another multi-decade "cultural war" spouting-off point.
posted by Asim at 5:52 AM on February 3, 2010


Love how McCain tried to spin his change of position as Mullen's "personal opinion." Bet he goes on a search for the mythical "commanders on the ground" akin to OJ's search for the "real killers."
posted by Ironmouth at 6:40 AM on February 3, 2010


I expect he'll use the cover that it was told to him "in private conversation", and never really name names. The OJ comparison is an apt one.
posted by electroboy at 6:57 AM on February 3, 2010


So there were hundreds of secret, closeted black people in the military forced to pretend to be white or wind up in prison or with their careers ruined back before the 50's integration? I've never heard of this. You'd think there'd be books and movies and disertations!
posted by Pollomacho at 7:05 AM on February 3, 2010




This is my favorite comment on repealing DADT (from here):
Senator Saxby Chambliss of Georgia said that if they began to loosen one restriction, others might unravel, leading to a louche atmosphere brimming with “alcohol use, adultery, fraternization and body art.”
Clearly Senator Chambliss knows nothing about the military if he thinks openly gay people are going to introduce that totally new atmosphere to us.
posted by lullaby at 9:19 AM on February 3, 2010


Wait, soldiers might start drinking, having sex, and getting tattoos? Well, that changes everything.
posted by EarBucket at 10:12 AM on February 3, 2010


Senator Saxby Chambliss of Georgia said that if they began to loosen one restriction, others might unravel, leading to a louche atmosphere brimming with “alcohol use, adultery, fraternization and body art.”

He might know what the military is like if he hadn't been yet another chickenshit Republican deferment-whore whose attack ads against actual veteran Max Cleland were so shameful even Karl Rove vomited a little into his book lungs.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:28 AM on February 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


Clearly Senator Chambliss knows nothing about the military if he thinks openly gay people are going to introduce that totally new atmosphere to us.

And yet he still beat a man that sacrificed a significant portion of his body for this country. It's amazing what you can accomplish when you pander to people's bigotry and baser instincts.
posted by Pollomacho at 10:28 AM on February 3, 2010


Jinx!
posted by Pollomacho at 10:29 AM on February 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


“I'm not really sure why people assume that getting rid of DADT necessarily implies a lot of sweeping changes in quarters, berthing, the construction of barracks, etc.”

Sure in the field or on a ship – different thing. Economy of space and the basic facts of plumbing as it relates to gender take precedence.
And it can be done informally in other ways in barracks, but in base housing say, why can’t a male have a female roommate?
It’s not segregation, at least it’s not what I’m saying, it’s the problems with fairly integrating. If you have an unfair situation with personnel or a perceived unfair situation, that certainly can lead to poor morale.
And the military’s public mores on sex are Paleolithic. In practice – different story.
I tend to look to make allowances for the practical realities. I’m hoping the Pentagon is as well.

“And I don't really see why it would require any changes to the fraternization rules”

The part you’re addressing is a smaller issue, albeit probably with more problems initially, the social networks and loyalties in place that may not align with the chain of command or positional authority. Such a thing is tolerable under certain circumstances (I’d argue even necessary and inevitable – indeed DADT has forced some officers to either break the law or undermine the cohesion of their unit). Not so much once there are no inequities.
I suspect that part of the problem will vanish anyway.
The larger issue is establishing neutral uniform standards with respect to sexual orientation. Regulations exists, but they’re vague. The more specific DoD directives refer to homosexual conduct, etc. So that would have to be removed.
Yes, conduct which is prejudicial to the maintenance of good order, discipline, morale and unit cohesion is a blanket sort of thing, but you need safeguards for confidentiality as well as allowances for changes in duty stations which would otherwise be dependant on whatever attitude the commander has.
This is not, at least as far as I’m asserting, exclusionary. Quite the contrary. I’d like to see protections and fairness for everyone. As it sits, there are still some prejudicial attitudes and clear guidelines need to be set.
Back in 2001 there was an airman who was raped by a civilian who went to a (base) psychiatrist. The shrink said he must have been gay since he let himself be raped and threatened to out him.
It’s not just the individual, it is that networks are formed as a reaction to atmosphere of paranoia and fear. The solution is fairly simple – remove that atmosphere. So – confidentialiality regs, fraternization regs, DoD directives, all change, etc.
But sex itself? Hell, when did any fraternization policy prevent that?
Allowances are designed into the T/O’s for carriers for female sailors who get pregnant during a cruise.
Again, I’m not saying this in opposition, I’m saying this with an eye already to change and the work that needs to be done. I think the UCMJ moral failure clause is also b.s.,
Adultery is nearly routine in some places, and in theater it’s a non-issue, and yet, high ranking female (or something high profile in the news) and bang they’re all over it.
It’s possible (IMHO) the upside would be less sexual harassment. As I presume some wit is going to push for stronger protections and prosecution (now that men may be on the receiving end).
I think the real hard part would, as you mention, be reconciling the regulations with DOMA and the benefits and whatnot. I’d like to see that change, the idea of someone’s spouse not getting benefits would really screw with people.
Having been in charge of some folks, I can speak on general reactions. But I'm not a lawyer. Still, looks like a big job if it's going to be fair. Probably have some lawsuits anyway.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:41 AM on February 3, 2010


Colin Powell now favors repeal of DADT.
posted by ericb at 11:11 AM on February 3, 2010




The larger issue is establishing neutral uniform standards with respect to sexual orientation.

Smedleyman, could you clarify this statement? Because it reads like you think that repealing DADT means we'll have, like, an influx of glitter and feather boas, and I'm reasonably certain that's not the case.
posted by shiu mai baby at 11:30 AM on February 3, 2010


That Economist piece is fantastic. I mentally favorited it 100 times.
posted by rtha at 11:50 AM on February 3, 2010




“could you clarify this statement?”
Something wrong with wearing a feather boa?

Essentially this – as it stands, DoD directives (et.al) makes references in a number of places to bisexual and/or homosexual conduct and/or acts – so instead of saying, say, no one can rub up against anyone else to turn anyone on anywhere, it says (one instance for example) ‘If a service member makes a statement that he or she is a homosexual or bisexual, or makes other statements indicating a propensity to engage in homosexual acts, the member’s commander may initiate an inquiry to determine whether that member should be discharged.’

So – propensity to engage in homosexual acts? Wtf does that really mean? You look like you might? You’ve had a gay thought? Only exemption I can think of offhand scores that low on the Kinsey scale is me (I stand next to John Wayne, he looks gay).
Meanwhile there’s this sort of split personality going on in all the language where the act is wrong, but orientation is ok which further Gordians up the knot.
There’s a zero tolerance harassment policy (such as no jody calls regarding homosexuals… yeah, written by the old guard).

So you can’t call someone gay, even if they’re gay, but they’re only gay if they have ‘a propensity to engage in homosexual acts,’ not that there’s anything wrong with that – except you lose your career, but you can talk to the chaplain or the psychiatrist, but that would add evidence to grounds for your administrative separation because it’s not, y’know, confidential, ‘cos your gay. Have a nice day.

The logic is tortured. But, as far as the DoD is concerned, it’s mostly been memos from myopic asshats who typically weren’t in the field and forced to focus on practical concerns, so, no duh.
How is homosexual conduct grounds for separation, but sexual orientation is not a problem? You have to be, what, neuter? I like sex. I can only imagine other people do. Someone tells me it’s ok to be heterosexual, but not engage in heterosexual conduct, yeah, it’s going to be a problem.

Ok, so – is heterosexual conduct grounds for separation? No. Only when in an inappropriate place or time. So then we need a uniform and orientation neutral language to more clearly specify that. And only that.

Not just in the UCMJ (which, again, under sodomy regs a male can’t go down on his female wife, so it’s screwy in many ways, but you can leave it in place and still allow homosexuals in the military (South Africa I believe did that) so it’s not the big gorilla that the DoD memos and other revisions, directives, helpful suggestions, smart ass remarks, policies and general bullshit* are, and nowhere near the secular Papal Bull that the law passed by congress is)
As it was individual commanders were given discretion whether to initiate an inquiry or not. This set up a serious cognitive dissonance for unit commanders, staff, etc. And had the result that, if you want to keep someone who’s good people, you’re now part of a mini-conspiracy.

Eliminate the need for it, and you eliminate the pressure on both command and personnel.
Clear and explicit guidelines that aren’t at odds internally and with each other in a number of ways would eliminate the need to give a commander latitude because it’s completely standardized and consistent. Which, yeah it’s counterintuitive, would free up command and protect personnel from bigoted officers.
If I’m correctly informed (hearsay, family member) the DoD had a bunch of cases a few decades ago with the result that the courts demanded they develop and execute a consistent policy, so they said “ok, no homosexuals or homosexual activity”
DADT only eliminated the former bit of that, kept the ‘no homosexuals…uh, activity”. And added language with this “yeah but, sorta this” language.

*I served under general bullshit back when Elvis, Laszlo Panaflex and Bruce Lee and I were knee deep in grenade pins in Pineland this one time. True story.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:26 PM on February 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


I stand next to John Wayne, he looks gay

Is that you John Wayne?
posted by Pollomacho at 5:27 AM on February 4, 2010


Smedley: hah, ok, my misunderstanding. When you talked about, "establishing neutral uniform standards with respect to sexual orientation" I read it too literally -- I thought you were actually talking about uniform the noun, when you were using "uniform" as an adjective modifying "standards." Thank you for the reasoned response, though.
posted by shiu mai baby at 7:34 AM on February 4, 2010


(I stand next to John Wayne, he looks gay)

I'd really like to hear your explanation of exactly what it is you think gay men look like.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:45 AM on February 4, 2010


Sorry, my Wayne link died, let's try this version.
posted by Pollomacho at 9:34 AM on February 4, 2010


Gay men look like everyone who is not me and maybe two or three other guys I know. Maybe.

C'mon, it's just hyperbole Optimus Chyme. My homosexual counterpart is the (taking male as a given) guy who shudders in disgust at the thought of vaginae.
I know such people exist. And this was part of my path to understanding what was otherwise a pretty foreign concept to me. Especially considering how I'm wired.

So - some guy who is disgusted by men and women having sex - would likely be pretty alienated by the 'normal' folks in straight relationships. I can see being on the other side of that. Hell, at some parties I've been to, I have been.
Probably helps that I'm at an extreme. I don't know. Never had a gay thought. Never had a gay dream. Never considered a man sexually.
It's my understanding that many people do and most folks fall at various parts along the spectrum.
So maybe I never had to deal with the internal conflict. I don't know.
I have zero gaydar. I'd've been one of those people who had no clue that Liberace was gay. Hey, the maybe guy really likes furs. Ok. I think it's stupid and not very utilitarian but he's rich and can afford it and maybe that's the whole showman thing. So he lives with a guy and isn't married, so?

By the same token, I'm pretty open minded when it comes to PDAs and sexual expression (within reason, genitalia in public, not so much). I like having sex with my wife. I love her. I don't mind talking about it. I see no reason why anyone else should have to stifle that.
Putting myself in my opposite number's place, yeah, that'd really piss me off. So if I see a guy kissing another guy, maybe they're gay. On the other hand, you see Argentinian (et.al) soccer players kissing each other. And half my family is old country so I kiss those uncles and cousins. I kiss my kids. Doesn't make me a pedophile. So who really knows?
I know gay men look no different than anyone else.

But since I'm closed off in that direction, and since to my sensibilities all men seem fairly effete anyway (Dick Proenneke aside), there's no discernible difference to me between a gay man wearing a feather boa, say, to indicate he's gay, and a straight man wearing a feather boa for any reason. Or overt displays of machismo from a gay or straight man to be friendly or self-congratulatory or to indicate sexuality or for whatever reasons.
I have no clue. I don't speak the language.

I have the same outlook on polyamory. I'm wired to be monogamous. So I don't get polyamory.
That is not that I believe in it, or I think it's the only right way or I've been churched up or whatever - just not how I am. My heart belongs intensely to one person. I've never even imagined cheating on my wife. Never wanted a threesome with her. All that.
That's not to exclude anyone else loving however many people of whatever gender intensely - that's not an expression of exclusion or of morality when I say "my heart," what it means is "MY heart."
It's an expression of my own will to individuality and demand for the right to self-expression.

As it happens, I'm straight as a rail and monogamous - two things that American society prizes (in lip service anyway).
Plenty of other ways I don't conform to anyone or anything and it sure as hell has pissed off plenty of people in many ways and put me on the outside of a lot of things.
Only reason I seem to have gotten away with it thus far is that I'm a high achiever and I'm fantastically dangerous.

I figure when I'm 60 or 70 I'll run my mouth off to the wrong person or group or I'll do something to defend the right principle at the wrong time and that will be the end of me. Maybe before then someone will drop a wooden beam on me and I'll die with panache or die in a cave west of Kumamoto after writing a book, doesn't matter.

Until then, it would be self-negating to deny anyone else their right to self-realization based on what they are.
So what anyone looks like doesn't really much matter to me. Except, y'know, really. Lots of people talk that, difference is I walk it.

And hell, on that score John Wayne was a phony so there's some truth under that doofy joke. Not a bad actor but the superpatriot b.s. doesn't wash with me. Just wanted to make a few more movies before he enlisted. Uh huh. Thanks John, not a lot of folks had that option. But waving that flag on screen, yeah, that helps, huh?

Meanwhile you've got Jimmy Stewart who wanted to go to the Naval academy but his parents pushed him into clown college (Princeton) and when WWII broke out he tried to get in a number of times but was too thin so he went into training and bulked up and got in and -fought- to get into a combat position. Kept his dangerous missions into Nazi Germany a secret. He didn't want it to be used as publicity.

Very big difference between those two men. And it's got nothing to do with whatever their sexual orientation was.
As I've said, I served with a homosexual who had guts and integrity and was hamstrung over this b.s. By no means was that individual effete.

(And yes, it's not military experience that defines integrity or courage, plenty of folks fought for their country at home protesting various wars or being involved in an actual real way and sacrificing their time, money and security instead of putting up a good looking front and making money off it - my background just happens to be military so I tend to put things in those terms).
posted by Smedleyman at 10:27 AM on February 4, 2010


My homosexual counterpart is the (taking male as a given) guy who shudders in disgust at the thought of vaginae.

I see. I think I misunderstood what you meant at first.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:35 AM on February 4, 2010


Fools rush in where wise men fear to tread.

Cliches aside, what I mean is that Obama looks like he's learned the lessons of Clinton's foray into this issue, and is looking to get the job done right. I'm pissed as anyone else that it has taken this long to fix this issue, just as I'm pissed that it's taken this long to fix any other issue involving gay and lesbian rights in this country. But I also get it that Obama's first year was about him learning the ropes, to a great degree, and while I'm not a proponent of the 12-dimensional chess model, I think he believed that health care was something he had the congressional votes and political capital to get done while he learned first-hand how to handle the opposition from the white house. Instead it ended up serving as kind of a failed test-balloon, but that doesn't mean Obama didn't learn from it.

The State of the Union was an agressive call-to-arms, moreso than any I've seen. Pundits have written about it to great degree, but none have encapsulated the clear message as I saw it, that He gave congress a year to get their shit in order and do the things that Americans put them in office to do, and that now it's ass-kicking time. In the week or so since then, we got Obama's stellar performance at the Republican Retreat, and now this, the CHairman of the Joint Chiefs and the Secretary of Defense going before congress together and saying that gays and lesbians need to be able to serve openly. Just as he promised he'd do.

But he's been smart about it. Clinton jumped into this issue right away, with the best intentions, leaving us with DADT because he had no experience dealing with the Pentagon at that point and was still operating under his Southern Governor's strategy of trading away the store for whatever he could get.Obama spent a year with the Pentagon and got them to propose it for him, including with a defense secretary appointed by Bush.

So yeah, Joe, Obama is doing something. It just might not look like it yet because he's being careful enough to get the job done right. Doing something, anything, rather than nothing is what got us DADT in the first place. We need human rights now, yes, but we aren't going to get them by bit-by-little-bit of capricious executive orders that can be nullified by any successor. This is too important, and needs to be set in stone, and comprehensively.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:26 PM on February 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


In addition, as a straight man, I'd like to thank all of the gays and lesbians out there right now for the bravery and pride I've seen in my lifetime (and I'm still pretty young.) This fight is hard, and you shouldn't have to be the ones who are doing the fighting, but we as a culture are on the tipping point of acceptance of homosexuality, which is kind of huge when one considers the history of persecution which has continued without comment or abatement for so very, very long, until really just now, from the historical perspective.

I'm cursed to live in a time where bigotry is still considered a rational viewpoint worthy or airtime and equal consideration, but I'm blessed to live in a time where astounding women and men have beaten that back to the point where we can basically be certain that homophobia will be seen as justly archaic and evil within a generation or so. It is the gay men and women of today - this generation - who have risked hatred from the world, from their peers, from their schools and workplaces, and from their own families in order to make that happen.

There are a lot of straight people, and I'm one of them, but so are a hell of a lot of my friends, for whom gay rights is their number-one issue, politically. They don't have a personal stake in the matter, obviously, except for one. What y'all are doing, and accomplishing, as slow as the process is, considering that it never should have been an issue at all... what you're doing is simply inspirational. You're making the world better.

This is a fight that will last most of my lifetime, if not much longer than that. It shouldn't. But the gays and lesbians of America have proven that they're in it for the long haul, for the future generations, and I think we can all take inspiration from what they've done, and what they will continue to do.

Again, thank you.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:48 PM on February 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


You know who else was a straight man?
Bud Abbott

(shiu mai baby, Optimus Chyme – thanks for the consideration. Sometimes I forget the language I use doesn’t get the point across the same way.)
posted by Smedleyman at 11:43 AM on February 5, 2010


Lt. Dan Choi is back on drill duty.
posted by EarBucket at 2:19 PM on February 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


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