"Don't ask, don't care"?
August 10, 2006 11:25 PM   Subscribe

Openly Gay Soulforce Activists in Minnesota, U.S., attempt to enlist in the Minnesota National Guard because they wish to serve, but are rejected or have their applications put on hold. Here are some local news reports (beware possible sound-enabled ads). Should the U.S. policy change?
posted by taursir (42 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Should the U.S. policy change?

What kind of stupid question is that? Of course it should.
posted by nightchrome at 11:32 PM on August 10, 2006

Yeah, I mean, duh. Talk about a no-brainer.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:45 PM on August 10, 2006

I agree, unfortunately saying "it is time for this policy to change" is considered editorializing here, but then what really isn't editorialized when it's posted to MeFi? ;P
posted by taursir at 11:47 PM on August 10, 2006

taursir: It's Metafilter, you're damned if you do and damned if you don't. Make your fpp and take your lumps. And people criticize me because I've never posted anything...;)
posted by nightchrome at 11:50 PM on August 10, 2006

I can never figure out how an organization could justify letting in females and not being completely fine with gay soldiers, too. All the possible objections I can come up with are just as applicable to female soldiers, and they got over that issue.

But then, maybe it conflicts with their concept of a Good Christian Nation. Or... whatever.
posted by blacklite at 11:51 PM on August 10, 2006

Once they start letting gays into the military, how will I get out of a draft?!
posted by delmoi at 11:51 PM on August 10, 2006

Soulforce is wonderful--they've been traveling around the country all spring and summer, confronting anti-gay policies everywhere--especially on college campuses.
posted by amberglow at 12:00 AM on August 11, 2006

should the government stop discriminating against gays....? good question! we may never know the answer.
posted by Tryptophan-5ht at 12:06 AM on August 11, 2006

Should the U.S. policy change?

posted by Pryde at 12:07 AM on August 11, 2006

Re: Once they start letting gays into the military, how will I get out of a draft?!

You could always do what this guy did to avoid deployment! At least it will heal. DU contamination and death are far worse, besides, there is no honor in an illegal war.
posted by augustweed at 12:20 AM on August 11, 2006

In this day and age, I'm surprised they don't enlist gays in drove and put them on the front line, South Park style...
posted by Jimbob at 12:22 AM on August 11, 2006


Uh, why on Earth would anyone who is denied the right to fully participate in American society want to give up his or her life defending it?

Yeah, yeah--easier to be denied rights in this country than to be murdered outright in Iran yeah whatever. Shitty treatment is shitty treatment--the degree of shittiness is of no consequence in this argument.

Fact is, homosexuals and bisexuals and transsexuals and other assorted other-than-regular-old-heterosexual whatnots of various harmless (don't even THINK of grouping pedophiles in with the nice lesbian couple down the street, okay?) stripes are denied rights that the majority enjoys in America. Volunteering to kill and die in order to perpetuate shitty treatment is plain stupid.

Unless and until there's a nice, Federally-mandated set of laws ensuring equal treatment for homosexual Americans, homosexual Americans should not volunteer on behalf of this country.

There is an argument that says "Hey--America is just dealing really slowly with the whole rights for sodomites thingy, and there's so much other stuff here that's worth fighting for, so maybe you should do the socially-conscious thing and put your personal crap on the back burner for now and step up!"

Nope. Not valid. That argument presumes an awful lot that I don't think is presumable here. One of the premises--namely, the implied premise that "homosexuals will get a fair shake just as soon as we kick Al Quaeda's ass"--is not true, or at least cannot be presumed true given the previous conduct of the society in question.
posted by mountain_william at 1:15 AM on August 11, 2006 [2 favorites]

Hmmm, I don't know how I feel about that, mountain_william. Using that, it would be ill advised for free blacks to join from any time from the civil war to very recently in US history because for some time they did not have full equality. It's not that you putting your personal crap on the backburner so much as your engaging the rules. You can't always wait for the top-down to change things. Sometimes change happens when there's so much mandate, so much pressure inside a community that it demands that change occurs. And if gays boycott society, who will put that pressure up?

I'm a straight member of the US military that would love nothing more than to see those of other sexual persuasions join me in military service if they wish it. The military is not a perfect society, but that's one of the reasons I join it. As they say, you don't send missionaries to the converted; you send them where they are needed.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 3:29 AM on August 11, 2006

The military, by its nature, is made up of a certain demographic. Many of our soldiers are young men with a background of poverty of close to it, education that ends at the high school diploma, and are willing to go to war to kill those who would destroy the American way of life.

People, particularly those with plenty of troubles, often look for scapegoats to blame their problems on. Big government. Japanese auto manufacturers. The Jews. Today's scapegoat of choice is the scary homosexual, out to ruin marriages for everyone and turn us all gay. (Terrifying hyperbole! A crucial part of any scapegoating.)

So, is it a wise idea to allow those who believe in this country to serve alongside those who are rooted in the belief that their fellow soldiers are out to destroy the American way of life from the inside? There is a time when tolerance must be given a push, such as race relations in the 1960s. There will be struggles, there will be outcries, and there will be casualties. America needs to be ready enough to accept that the backlash won't push back further than any steps forward.

The military will be a good test. Military discipline demands unit cohesiveness. If that discipline overrides prejudice, it will be a huge step towards greater acceptance. If not, we'll see renewed galvanization against gays. As frustrating as it may be to take it so slow, it is better than grasping too far and falling back. Charge in too soon, and you play into the hands of the sternest opponents. Nothing stirs up extremism quite like more extremism.

Is it time? Perhaps it is. To succeed, it will take great men who are willing to put their lives on the line for the good of America whether it be against a foreign enemy or an unaccepting countryman.

Anything less will do no good for any of us.
posted by Saydur at 3:51 AM on August 11, 2006

I attended my daughter's basic training graduation early this year. I was struck by how heterogenous the army truly is. People from all over this country and many other countries - people with all kinds of accents, colors, attitudes, religions, and backgrounds - join the army. And the army embraces them, causes them to embrace each other (for the most part), and forms them into a single "neighborhood" with some true mutual affection and respect. I saw people who would've never given each other the time of day (I thought) crying and hugging and saying goodbye after that ceremody.

There was a time when the Black and Hispanic members of my daughter's group would not have been welcomed or embraced or wept over but those days are long gone. If people of all sexual persuasions were allowed to join up as they please, after some initial resentment and friction, we'd see the same thing.

I hope that when people leave the armed forces they remember that comraderie and respect for differences and put it to use in their workforces and neighborhoods and their children. I believe they do. So, let gays and straights join up and we might see a different attitude everywhere in this country.

I know there are cynical remarks to come and plenty of counter-examples to what I witnessed. I have never served in the armed forces and my daughter's enlistment was a shock. But the whole experience has reminded an old Southern Liberal that there is hope for a better day.
posted by loosemouth at 4:10 AM on August 11, 2006

As a gay man who recently got out of the Navy (on my own terms - not because I was gay), I can say that the military is only a microcosm of society. It's made up of all types of people, from all walks of life.

I personally feel (I think I've said it before) that DADT actually inhibits unit cohesion rather than protects it- which is ironically one of its primary purposes. While quite a few people in my squadron knew I was gay (and didn't care), some didn't - and it was because I felt if they knew they might 'out' me to the CO.

If I didn't have to worry about getting fired all the time, I could have been a little more integrated into squadron life. Granted, we were still a fairly close-knit group - but I could have talked about what I did last night, or over the weekend, or whatever. They could have known more about me and my life (which certainly wasn't sleezy or seedy) and me about theirs. While we were an effective team while flying in the air - the little nuances of familiarity could have made us just that much closer as a team, and ultimately a better fighting force.

Gays have always served in the military and always will. The only thing DADT does is shoot itself in the foot by discouraging unit cohesion.
posted by matty at 4:40 AM on August 11, 2006 [1 favorite]

Also - many people have been kicked out of the military under DADT. That's a crappy way to lose trained soldiers who can perform perfectly well. I'm not sure of the exact number who have been dismissed - but here's a question... How many soldiers has the military lost due to attrition because of or in part to DADT? I.e. how many people left the military because they were gay, but their commitment was up and decided it was best to move on??

Honestly, I probably would have stayed the full twenty years or longer if I hadn't gotten tired of playing "Pick Who To Tell". That wasn't the only reason for leaving, but it certainly factored into the equation.
posted by matty at 4:44 AM on August 11, 2006

I can never figure out how an organization could justify letting in females and not being completely fine with gay soldiers, too. All the possible objections I can come up with are just as applicable to female soldiers, and they got over that issue.

The problem isn't gay soldiers. There are already tons of gay soldiers and there will always be many gay soldiers. But the military can't openly embrace homosexuals--if it does then all the arguments against gay civil rights fall apart. How can you deny gay marriage to military heroes? It'd be just like the blacks returning from WW2. You'd have to allow gay marriage and then Western civilization would collapse, Atlantis would from the sea, and the Mole Men would rise again to re-enslave we surface dwellers. It'd be Armageddon, the end of days. Nobody wants this to happen so the military has to come up with bullshit policies like DADT.
posted by nixerman at 5:13 AM on August 11, 2006

I"m as pro-military as it gets, and by all means, yes, it should change, and to accommodate the change, eighteen-year-old recruits should have to f'ing grow up and deal with their sexual identities in appropriate ways that aren't prejudicial to good order and discipline and don't undermine unit cohesion. They might even be better troops for the effort.

I'm acutely aware of the arguments against integrating G/L/B into the military, and every damned one of them sounds like the same arguments that were being made over 50 years ago about integrating the armed forces racially. I wouldn't give a rat's @$$ about serving in a 70% gay unit as long as every guy in there is pulling his share of the load and looking out for his buddies -- their sex lives are their own business and mine's mine.

(Holding in abeyance some rather contrarian views about *gender* integration -- but that would be a derail and the topic deserves an FPP of its own)
posted by pax digita at 5:45 AM on August 11, 2006

I would prefer DADT maintained, frankly, as much as I would prefer an open statement from this administration and the military that they hate anyone who is not a Christian heterosexual.

I just don't see why I should agree to be drafted by a country — to serve the interests of its weathiest and most powerful, really — that doesn't want me as an equal citizen.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:46 AM on August 11, 2006

Don't-Ask-Don't-Tell was derided as a do-nothing fix by the republicans when Clinton proposed it.
You'd think that if Bush really was going to throw a bone to his conservative base, that would be one policy he could easily fix.
The thing is, although he may be teflon, he's also the anti-midas. Nothing sticks to him, but everything he touches turns to shit.
That, and right now he's too busy killing soldiers to worry if they might be holding hands. They're expendable, but hard to replace.
posted by Balisong at 6:04 AM on August 11, 2006

...I would prefer an open statement from this administration and the military that they hate anyone who is not a Christian heterosexual.

That's one of many public pronouncements I'd like to see...*cough*big oil*cough*....*cough*Israel*cough*

If you're openly gay, you have to, in theory, "agree" to be drafted anyhow -- like we'll ever have a draft again, tshyeahright -- because the bull$hit rules of the Selective Service System require that you put your name in. But that doesn't mean you'll have to serve -- in fact, if you tell 'em what the deal is, you probably won't even be allowed on the bus for Jackson (or Parris Island or Great Mistakes or Lackland) given the current rules.

Call your local recruiter and ask what'd happen if, at any time during the induction process, you self-identified as homosexual. Hint: Don't bother canceling any plans you would've had for the rest of the week; you'll be back out on the sidewalk that very day.
posted by pax digita at 6:15 AM on August 11, 2006

Besides, we've got guys from MS-13 and the Aryan Brotherhood serving in Iraq at this point

No Way!
White Supremacists
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 6:38 AM on August 11, 2006

what matty and others said---we have and have always had, gays and lesbians prouldy serving, fighting, and dying for this country and for us--but they have to hide, which does hurt cohesion.

It's not just while serving that there are witchhunts--a straight guy at West Point is in trouble for writing a thesis (and winning an award) on why DADT is bad policy and the rightwing is now going after them.
posted by amberglow at 7:30 AM on August 11, 2006

I say we keep letting only the heterosexuals join the army. That way, we can stay home and keep working toward increasing our numbers. Also, this gives us a great opportunity to influence the children while their daddies are away being Real Men.
posted by Hildegarde at 7:40 AM on August 11, 2006

we've got guys from MS-13 and the Aryan Brotherhood

Oddly enough, I found out that CO must initiate seperation board proceedings in either supremacist or homosexual tendencies. Unlike a lot of other things, the CO can't just chose to ignore either (which can be good or bad depending on the policy).

However, during certain times, (i.e. now) self-identification is insufficient grounds to adminisiter mandatory seperation boards. So if your only evidence of being gay to the command is to declare that you're gay, you might just be told to get back to work. So, all those people looking for this as a way to get out of military service might have a hard time depending on the CO/needs of the unit.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 7:41 AM on August 11, 2006

The obvious thing to do is to look at the military forces in which gays are free to enlist---e.g., the British. No problems at all from that approach.

That said, there are some remarkably homophobic men and religious sects. I think it might be wise not to allow those to enlist.
posted by LeisureGuy at 7:56 AM on August 11, 2006

I can never figure out how an organization could justify letting in females and not being completely fine with gay soldiers, too.

Male and female don't sleep together in the same rooms, though, do they? I actually don't know. I agree the policy should obviously change, but that was/is their rationale, right?
posted by mrgrimm at 8:12 AM on August 11, 2006

It's a stupid policy, sexuality shouldn't be an issue in the military. But joining the military shouldn't be a publicity stunt and it shouldn't be solely for the chance to get a cheap or free education. Joining the military is a huge responsibility and a commitment to defend the country with your life if need be. Everyone who enlists should understand that and be prepared for the sacrifice. They should also understand the risks of being sent to do things that are against their conscience.

As I understand it (and I have never been in the military), being a soldier or reservist means losing your identity and becoming a drone in the hive. So, during service, it shouldn't matter what you were before you enlisted. During service you are all maggots and nothing more.
posted by JJ86 at 8:16 AM on August 11, 2006

Some actual thoughts of gay people in the army have made it into the flyer given out to people joining for mandatory service in Finland. (Article title: I did not make a number of my homosexuality)
Ville, 22, stepped up for service in Upinniemi a number of years ago. According to him, one can relate to homosexuality in the army in a good way.

"I haven't made a number of it", Ville stresses.


"I didn't want to leave playing the martyer, and battling against windmills. It was easier to go along with the group and fill out some role. It wasn't very difficult, because I've done so my whole life."


Time in the army wasn't easy, but it didn't depend on Ville's sexual orientation, rather that service in the army is simply tough work.

"Things broke down a lot, but it was the same for everyone. Homosexuals have the same interpersonal- and money-related worries ", Ville remarks.


"We were all together, because the group had a need to just work. There came to be that sort of no-one-left-behind feeling. In retrospect, it was probably the army's best times, although then it felt really tough.

So, there's some excerpts. Short article, but it sort of backs up what people here have already said. When you get down to it you better work together if you want to survive.

Perhaps one of the issues with this whole thing is that when people hear "Gays want to join military", they may not actually realize that said "Gays" are more than just that and also actually just normal people. That's the problem with news stories such as these, and a cultural issue such as this, is that it's hard to make it seem like it's not all there is to you when that's all people know. One of the reasons I get frustrated being introduced to people or referred to as something like "mygaybestfriendOMG".

On the other hand, I'd have a hard time protesting something like this in the U.S., because well, I don't necessarily support the army's doings, though I'd support peoples wishes to join up. I just wouldn't want the U.S. military to think that I'm one of those people who wants to serve them.
posted by taursir at 8:27 AM on August 11, 2006

There's a disturbing irony in a bunch of people hating gay people looking for ways to prevent gays from having the chance to get killed.

That's not disturbing, it's delicious! But then, I have never had any desire to be in the military.
posted by owhydididoit at 8:28 AM on August 11, 2006

Pardon the derail....Bravo Zulu (that's "well done") to JJ86 for what he/she said -- I wish an awful lot more people were sitting down and really thinking hard about those kinds of issues before putting their right hands up. Even then, you don't always know how you're going to feel about certain situations until you're living them.

Case in point: Back in the day I read about a sailor who had some personal-conscience issues with the whole nuclear-deterrence thing and had to get out of the "boomer" (ballistic-missile) submarine community and switch to fast-attacks because the whole Dr. Strangelove thing just skeezed him out too much. But because he was an otherwise well-behaved, intelligent and hardworking sailor and liked sub duty, an understanding couple of Chiefs got an XO and a skipper to help this guy work out a transfer, and he was fine thereafter. [/derail]
posted by pax digita at 9:26 AM on August 11, 2006

Pax Digita - by your own example I'd have to say JJ86 doesn't deserve a BZ at all. I'd say he has no understanding of how the military works, since you just showed an example of someone who was not a 'drone' or a 'maggot' and was able to work within the system to find a solution that worked for him.
posted by matty at 9:44 AM on August 11, 2006

Yeah, truth be told, people do maintain their identities after enlistment/commissioning as if it were otherwise, you might as well buy military robots. True, each member of a team must understand and be ready to sacrifice for the good of the whole, easily working with total strangers based upon organizational policy, but what makes them useful is that they are also individuals. I train people in a certain way, and my co-workers train people in other ways. We are made stronger by the fact that some of us can do things the others can't. Plus it makes more interesting conversation.

"Over-specialize and you breed in weakness"

Also remember that the military is totally dominated by the regulations given by congress and the commands given by the President. Not that we're drones, but it's a little disingenuous to blame the military itself for a policy it didn't write. This has more to do with a politician trying to impress his constituents than it does the military deciding what's best for ourselves.

We have plenty of people on both sides of the fence, and most people in the military I've met are 'live and let live' type folks.

However, I have to agree, it's not cool to try to join as a publicity stunt. As that, you're doing it as a gay that doesn't really even want to be in the military, which isn't fair to those that actually want to join and happen to be gay.

I understand you want to protest policies, but methinks that's not the way I would want it done.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 10:37 AM on August 11, 2006

taursir writes "'I haven't made a number of it', Ville stresses."

I'm really curious about this turn of phrase ("haven't made a number"); I've never heard it before. Is it a Finnish thing, a military thing, a Finnish military thing, or something else? What does it mean, exactly?
posted by mr_roboto at 11:30 AM on August 11, 2006

The real question is, if the policy changed to allow the openly gay to serve, would these activists still try to enlist?
posted by Pastabagel at 1:19 PM on August 11, 2006

The real question is, if the policy changed to allow the openly gay to serve, would these activists still try to enlist?

A better question is, would they need to be activists?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:25 PM on August 11, 2006

Gays in the Military start their tour tonight in Chicago!
posted by elr at 5:04 PM on August 11, 2006

"Male and female don't sleep together in the same rooms, though, do they?"

I'm for the policy change. But I'd like to see that one change too. Not that fair to us straight folks if the homosexual folks can room together without being married and we can't. On the other hand, the main sexual orientation (for non-REMFs anyway) is solo anyway, so sorta a moot point. I suppose the biggest arguments would be which porn film to put into the VCR.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:38 PM on August 11, 2006

mr_roboto: I'm not exactly sure where it's from. It makes sense to me, what he means is he doesn't make a big deal out of it/make it a huge part of identity.

In a way, I'm kind of worried that the sit-in related to this post might in some way turn into that. I mean yes, the point is that gay people want in too, so obviously it has to have some relation to that. On the other hand, I personally am not sure I'd participate because I dont want it to seem like I too would enlist, because there's pleanty else going on with the military than DADT that pisses me off.
posted by taursir at 10:15 AM on August 12, 2006

So, some woman from the "Centre for Military Readiness" doesn't like what a West Point cadet wrote. And the article calls her a "military readiness expert". On what grounds? That she belongs to a think tank? Anyone with money and a computer can make a bloody think tank. I could make the "I know way more about the military than you, nyah nyah" think tank, and call myself an military-taunting expert if I wanted to.

I know people who actually study the military and military history in universities, who have to answer to other scholars and justify their positions with evidence (crazy, I know) - and frankly, there is no evidence that allowing gays in the military would do anything but help you keep more of the valuable assets that are trained officers and enlisted.
posted by jb at 5:32 PM on August 12, 2006

speaking of valuable assets--they kicked out all those linguists-in-training who were desperately needed, right? Now private contractors are advertising on Craigslist for Army translators for Middle Eastern countries.
posted by amberglow at 7:43 AM on August 13, 2006

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