Comments 92

  1. I reluctantly voted for the first option, although I don’t completely agree with it. I think it is far too strident for my sake, but I think it is the best option available out of that list. As is clear from other posts on this site, I have zero problem with homosexuality, in fact I oppose bans on same sex marriage. However, in this instance I support the court’s decision to leave the state of the law alone for a couple of reasons. First of all, this is not tantamount to outright discrimination against homosexuals. Acceptance of homosexuals by the military exists, although admittedly if one makes too much of an issue of their homosexuality, they will run into trouble. But gays are allowed in the military. From a purely equitable standpoint, I think it is very unfortunate that gays are forced to essentially keep quiet about who they are. This is a situation that we’re trying very hard to move past in this country, but obviously we’re not there yet. I do think, though, that it is appropriate for the government to place some restrictions on behavior within the military, if there is practical justification for doing so, and this is the real reason why I think the policy is ultimately acceptable. In many instances I believe perception is reality. I think it is very unfortunate that many people are prejudiced against gays, but I recognize that this is the case. And as much as I wish openly gay individuals serving with heterosexual individuals in the military would NOT have any effect on morale or on the behaviors of soldiers who are responsible for the safety of our nation, I think it would be naive to believe there is no effect. I think there are many who would behave differently, and in many cases to the detriment of their outfit and their duties, if open homosexuality was allowed. Because I believe there is a strong posibility of having severe problems with openly gay persons serving alongside homophobic heterosexuals, I think the government has a legitimate interest in preventing this situation. Keep in mind, the government is not obliged to eradicate every instance of discrimination in the law. They need only show that the government’s interest in discriminating counterbalances the rights of those being discriminated against to justify the law. Affirmative Action is a good example of this. I think that burden is met in this case. Let me reiterate that I think the problem here is with those soldiers who are homophobes and are unwilling or unable to accept homosexuals and serve alongside them without incident, and not any homosexual soldier. It’s a sad fact that our military is made up largely of lesser educated individuals who hail from backgrounds where they are unlikely to have been raised in an atmosphere of tolerance and acceptance, but again, it is what it is. (And before anyone with a connection to the military takes offense, I realize this is not everyone in the military. However, statistically speaking, enlisted military personnel are far more likely to be low or middle class red-staters, which makes them less likely to be tolerant of homosexuals, in my opinion) In this particular instance, I think the policy is justifiable.

  2. I want to retract a statement I made in my prior comment. This policy IS outright discrimination against homosexuals. However, I still believe the government has a ligitimate interest in maintaining the policy.

  3. I voted “undecided.” I think “don’t ask, don’t tell” is unnecessarily discriminatory and should be done away with. However, unless I know why the Court decided not to hear the case, I cannot reasonably support or decry the decision.

  4. Folks, can we keep in mind what the PRIMARY activity of the US military in regard to the rights of gays and lesbians at the moment is supposed to be?

    It’s defeating the kind of ideology that asks gays and lesbians where it rules to choose between staying in the closet or going into a coffin.

    Let’s keep in mind the bigger picture as it affects gay rights. Most gays and lesbians aren’t American, but they are still God’s children.

  5. I guess I would rather have a policy that is don’t ask, don’t tell, because we don’t care either way. My problem with the current policy is that if you do tell you get discharged from the service.

  6. It’s an issue that is irrelevant to actual service, and frankly, the place for activism is not within the ranks of the armed services. I think that the military has a unique purpose and it is difficult to make an accurate comparison to other situations. I think it most important for those defending the country to be able to work as a team. Soldiers don’t need the distraction of homosexuality issues, it too easily sets some up for stupid mistakes that can cost lives. The military’s primary purpose is not to be accepting and tolerant. I think that it really is a special situation where normal social standards apply differently, if at all. However unfortunate the homophobia in the military is, however discriminatory or unfair, I think that it’s one place where it’s acceptable. Perhaps it will change with time as general public opinion shifts.

  7. re 7:
    J. Ro, so was it wrong for the military to be desegregated so early (Harry S Truman made the executive order in 1948, before Linda Brown was even born), because that was “activism” too?

    I think the issue is…if soldiers don’t need the distraction of homosexuality issues, they don’t need the distraction of heterosexuality issues either. So, straight military members should also keep everything under wraps as well.

    Obviously, people can still operate. People don’t do stupid mistakes relating to this issue. And in fact, our military has need of the best soldiers it can get, regardless of if they are openly gay translators in the Middle East or what. If we have policies that hinder our ability to get as effective and talented a military as we could have, that weakens us, not strengthens us.

    Now, where you may have a point…is from the homophobia of many military soldiers. Similar to how the Boy Scouts would collapse if they offended the sentiments of very powerful backers of it (like the LDS church), the military *does* have to be concerned that many of the socially conservative soldiers would not tolerate gay servicemen, and so their performance might be degraded or they might not support an organization that they feel is becoming more debauched.

    But this kind of argument, like with arguments against desegregation (‘white officers won’t work with black troops, so for the good of the army, we have to keep it segregated’) really shows that we need to change the behaviors of people, and not continue to acquiesce to discrimination.

  8. #8 – Andrew, I agree with you completely in principle, but I think your comment denies the reality to some degree. Right or wrong, “heterosexuality issues” don’t really exist. It is the assumed norm, as wrong as that is. The fact is, no one spends time thinking about how heterosexual the guy sleeping in the next bunk is. The same can’t be said about homosexuals. Again, this is the problem of bigots in the military, but to suggest that no one would let it affect their behavior is very naive. I think there’s plenty of evidence of the extremes to which bigots will go (Matthew Shepherd) when they feel strongly about an issue, and especially when they feel that they have absolute moral authority on the issue, as do all homophobes who derive their beliefs from religious sources. I find it completely plausible that straight soldiers would refuse to assist a gay comrade in distress or would even actively hamper him or her attempting to fulfill his or her duty. This is a problem, and I don’t think it’s a problem on a small scale. Keep in mind that the vast majority of people in this country identify themselves as christian, and virtually all christian churches still consider homosexuality an abominable sin; some consider it the worst sin a person can commit next to murder. That’s a lot of homophobes and a lot of anger. Like I said before, I don’t support homophobes or their agenda, and I agree with you that we need to be actively involved in changing thoughts and behaviors, but I don’t think we let our ideals blind us to the realities of the here and now. To answer your question, I don’t know what the answer is or what the timeline is. I’m not even saying I think “don’t ask don’t tell” should remain in place. I just think the government is justified in retaining it if they so choose. If they changed the law tomorrow, I would be perfectly fine and would celebrate it as a victory for equality. I’m just saying I see the rationale, and I think it’s legitimate, even if it’s not the ultimate solution.

  9. I dunno, all of the women in the military who’ve gotten harassed or worse (even with different quarters, etc.,)…I think they would *strongly* disagree. Unless you would then say, “Well, women shouldn’t be in the military then.”

  10. Andrew S:

    I think your reference to Truman makes my point for me about what the issue really is: IMO, military readiness trumps concerns about making the structure of the military match the ideal or solve the problems of the civilian culture. It’s an issue for PEACETIME.

    In 1948 we thought we were the unchallenged military on the planet because we had the A-bomb and our only potential rivals were still trying to play catch up. We could do all sorts of wonderful things like demobilizing from WW2 to build up a civilian economy and begin using the military to lead in social ideals much of the civilian culture wasn’t ready for. So we did. But within 2 years our troops were hanging on by their toenails in Korea with equipment that couldn’t fight their enemy’s weapons or tactics.

    What does military readiness have to do with being straight or gay? Inherently, nothing. One of the most storied warrior cultures of the ancient world ORGANIZED its elite troops into a “sacred band” of pairs of gay lovers.

    So what it comes down to is that military readiness relates to issues of being straight or gay however the SOLDIERS of a culture think it does. If they think it isn’t a problem, it isn’t a problem. If they think it’s a problem, then its a very big problem indeed for the gays and lesbians who are depending on them for their safety.

    So let the impetus for change here come from the officer corps (or at least the military justice system), not from the civilian courts.

  11. With all due respect to everyone’s opinions, I’d like to point out that the premise of the poll is flawed. The Supreme Court said nothing about the merits of this issue one way or the other, yet every alternative in this poll assumes they did. Not true. They refuse to hear most of the cases that are sent to them, and that’s part of their job. They get to pick and choose and when they refuse to hear a case, they don’t have to say why. So when they refuse to hear a case, all we know–unless they say specifically otherwise–is that they refuse to hear the case. Period. Any conclusion anybody draws from that is their own speculation.

  12. I had a feeling the race issue might come up. I think that, while they’re both discrimination, they’re apples and oranges. It’s not quite as easy to instantly tell if someone’s gay as it is to tell if a black man’s black. Still discrimination, but different dynamic.

    Homosexuality is an issue that isn’t necessarily relevant to the actual work servicemen/women do. But Andrew S, all of the compartmentalized points you made are matters that affect each other. I know some pretty serious homophobes whose performance would unquestionably be affected.

    For, say, an all-male unit of 20 soldiers, heterosexuality could actually be quite unifying as they talk about their girlfriends/wives back home, when they go out for drinks, when they see a hot girl, etc. Throw a gay man or two (or three or four) in the mix, bring everyone’s sexual orientation into the open, and see how the heteros react. Some would probably be fine. Some would have serious reservations about whether the gay man is watching their back or is going to come on to them. That’s a distraction nobody needs. I’m not saying it’s right, and I’m not saying I have the same concerns; I’ve heard first-hand accounts that it happens. Just because you think you’d be comfortable serving with gay soldiers (or if you were in fact comfortable with it during your service time, for that matter) does not mean that all other soldiers will see your view as a completely reasonable philosophy that they should adopt. In a group of soldiers fighting together, trust is crucial.

    Mainstream society has to work up to these kind of things. Military opinion often lags behind on matters viewed as “liberal.”

    I agree with FireTag: “IMO, military readiness trumps concerns about making the structure of the military match the ideal or solve the problems of the civilian culture.” Like I said before, the military’s primary purpose is not to be accepting and tolerant.

  13. re 13
    So, if black people could somehow conceal blackness, then desegregation should come with, “But don’t ask, don’t tell” about the true race of a person?

    ehhh. I tire of the discussion, so I’ll just concede e-defeat

  14. Still a different dynamic. I don’t think the white soldiers were worrying about the black soldiers possibly being attracted to them.

  15. Just out of curiosity, how many of the respondents have served in the military? How about the original poster? I have always found this whole topic of conversation interesting, since usually the majority of those involved have never served.

    I spent 15 years in the military, and while it was spent in the medical community, and not on the front lines, it has been my general experience that sexual orientation didn’t matter a whole lot. Those in the military who opposed homosexuals serving generally (yes, it’s a generalization) also opposed women serving, feeling that the military really should be a man’s profession. Also, military men will pursue sexual activity wherever they could find it. There’s an old joke that states, “every submarine leaves port with 100 sailors aboard and comes back with 50 couples.” (Women are not allowed to serve on submarines still.)

    What I did notice, again in general, was that the more effeminate men, whether gay or straight, were the ones that faced the greatest difficulties. And the corollary exists for women, the more macho a woman — the more she could hold her drink, the more push-ups and curl-ups she could do, and the more “physical” she might be — the more she was accepted.

  16. #6 brjones: ” Keep in mind that the vast majority of people in this country identify themselves as christian, and virtually all christian churches still consider homosexuality an abominable sin; some consider it the worst sin a person can commit next to murder. That’s a lot of homophobes and a lot of anger.”

    I just wanted to point out that just because one sees homosexuality as a sin does not mean that one is homophobic. I view adultery as a sin too, but do not consider myself adulterphobic (or whatever the greek would be). That being said, I think we (culturally, and within the LDS church) need to learn more about how to be with different people without causing problems because we may disagree with them.
    Hence, my vote in the poll: No. Sexual orientation is not relevant to military service. Period.

  17. Don’t ask, don’t tell. It’s pretty simple. If you give gays full fledged rights in the military, then they will demand that there be drag queen shows and things like that.
    Give them a penny, they will want and take a dollar.

  18. Kari, you make a good point. I have only family members and close friends who have served and told about their experiences in all branches of the military. I’ve never been a part of it myself. I mostly go off what I’ve heard from people who’ve been there. I think you also highlight the differences that come up in different branches of the military, as well as different roles within those branches. A front-line US Marine might feel differently than a Navy surgeon (;)). I mostly think that in most cases it comes down to how well they can do their job. The gay men I know (none in the military) would not be very good fighters. If they can do well what they’re there to be doing (defense/attack), that’s good enough for me. But with the way some see it, I don’t think asking or telling about homosexuality is a good idea. Sorry to those who fall in the minority.

    Jon, giving rights probably makes the recipients want more rights, but I can’t even begin to imagine what a military drag queen show would be like or how they would get that approved.

  19. #19 – I’m just going to assume this is a joke.

    #12 – This is not entirely accurate. You are technically correct that the SC refusing to hear a case does not have any precedential effect, and should not be seen as an endorsement of the “don’t ask don’t tell” policy, it simply means they chose not to hear the case for one reason or another. In fact there may be technical issues that they felt created reasons not to hear it which had nothing to do with the merits. That said, the members of the SC do not live in a vacuum, and they are not ignorant to the issues surrounding the various cases that are petitioned to their court. That is why when the SC refuses to hear a high-profile case involving a hot-button social issue, it’s generally seen as the SC being unwilling to address that issue at that time. For example, it was noted that a federal suit was recently filed regarding Prop 8, which is undeniably the highest profile SSM ballot measure to date in the U.S. If that case goes through the federal courts and is eventually petitioned to the SC, as is anticipated, and the SC denies cert and refuses to hear it, that will be seen as a MAJOR blow for the SSM movement. It will be interpreted as a sign that the SC is unwilling to consider changing the law with respect to SSM at that time. So while you are correct about the technicalities, I think it’s still fair to read some significance into such a denial. At the very least it probably signifies that the court is willing to let the law stand, and that it isn’t so repulsed by the law that it’s been waiting for a case to come along and give them an excuse to change it, which many people are hoping is the case with a law such as this. As a sidenote, the SC’s refusal to hear a case is not always a bad sign in the long run for the party which is attempting to have the law changed. Often the court will recognize that the issue is going to have a monumental effect on society, and they will wait for just the right case and just the right time to address the issue. So a denial may mean that the court doesn’t think the facts of the case are right to change the law, or perhaps they aren’t prepared at that time, but rather than rule to uphold the law, thus validating it, they will refuse to hear a case dealing with it until the circumstances are right. It will be interesting to see how they deal with DADT and SSM cases in the future. It’s a virtual certainty that they will hear them at some point in the not so distant future.

  20. No joke. Someone said that if the Boy Scouts would have been forced to accept gays that they would have demanded that they Boy Scouts be required to hold drag queen shows.
    No one thinks that gay militants would demand this? Think again.
    The policy of don’t ask don’t tell is in place for a reason.

  21. I think the issue is…if soldiers don’t need the distraction of homosexuality issues, they don’t need the distraction of heterosexuality issues either. So, straight military members should also keep everything under wraps as well. a lot of military people feel that way.

    There are actually several issues.

    First big sections of the military are getting over their homosexually related issues. Another few years and for most military personnel sexual orientation could well become a non-issue.

    Second for a long time, military culture was sexually predatory. Straight men in the military expected gay men to act just like the straight men did — i.e. in very predatory ways towards any possible sexual partner. There were a lot of bad experiences people had in that regard. You can read a number of them if you look around a little.

    Third all the misc. cultural baggage.

    But the switch is the idea that perhaps sexual identity shouldn’t cross over into the military except as background noise.

    But there is a lot of evolution that has been going on, which I expect will lead to changes.

  22. None of the options in the poll represented my view. I think the policy is wrong and misguided (although not for the reasons some people give), but I don’t think it’s unconstitutional.

  23. @#22: As an attorney, I assure you that #12 is indeed “technically correct”, which you acknowledge. You also prove my other point that any interpretation of why the SCOTUS denied cert is still, ultimately, speculation. I’m not saying that all posters here are wrong, merely that they are guessing and stating personal opinions.

    @#23: Unbelievable. “Someone” also said Mormon temple weddings end with the couple consummating their marriage on the altar in front of everyone. Yes, I have actually heard that more than once from people who really believed it. Jon Miranda, you need more education.

  24. Jay, the whole premise of the poll is to let people express their own opinions. It is not to guess why the court refused to hear the case. You can get off that soapbox. We all understand your point and agree with it.

  25. #26 – Jay, I agree that there is no way to know why the court declined to hear the case, and any speculation regarding their motives is just that. However, I still maintain that there are social and political implications that result from the court refusing to hear a high profile test case and allowing a law like this to remain in place.

    #19 – If you could try to make an intelligent, informed argument in the future, it would be much more rewarding to attack it. Statements like this just invite personal attacks, which aren’t really appropriate in this forum (although objectively speaking I suspect they may be totally appropriate).

  26. “No joke. Someone said that if the Boy Scouts would have been forced to accept gays that they would have demanded that they Boy Scouts be required to hold drag queen shows.”

    That’s actually a pretty good point. After all, we know how notorious the BSA is for sponsoring events where female strippers are big part of the day’s activities. If they were to move toward accepting homosexuals in their membership, then they’d have to allow for drag queen shows now too in order to be fair to the various sexual persuasions. Good point, I might have overlooked that slippery slope if it hadn’t been pointed out.

  27. Several here have suggested that DADT should be continued in light of potential homophobia in the ranks. The same sort of argument was made in regard to racially desegregating the military. In the end, the military followed the changed law, and over time the military became a good example (“good,” not “perfect”) of racial equality. Frankly, those who would betray their fellow soldier due to racial reasons weren’t fit for duty, as they couldn’t be trusted to do their job without regard to personal animus. The same will be true regarding those who will betray a gay soldier due to homophobic reasons. Keep in mind that many (most?) of the world’s military forces have allowed gay soldiers to serve openly, and while there will always be individuals who are unable to be serve professionally, we simply don’t hear of the massive troubles that some here seem to predict would happen in the U.S. military.

    Others have basically suggested that allowing openly gay men and lesbians to serve in the military would subject other soldiers to some sort of sexual harassment. All soldiers are already subject to strict military rules in this regard, and it would be no different for gay or lesbian soldiers. If a gay soldier made unwelcome advances on another soldier, you can bet that discipline would be forthcoming.

    Honestly, I think some of the above commenters have an inflated idea of what degree of homophobia exists among the military rank-and-file. Surveys have shown for several years now that younger soldiers are completely unconcerned about the idea of serving alongside openly gay troops, and many of them state that they know they already do so. They don’t care, so long as that gay soldier is doing his/her job.

    #19:
    Funny that you’d speak of “drag shows” in the military. I’ve seen it done, and all the individuals dressed in women’s attire were allegedly heterosexual. While it’s true that a portion of gay men enjoy performing and/or seeing drag, many of do not. jon, it’s fairly clear that you derive your concept of gay men from negative stereotypes, rather than from personal experience. I’d wager that some of the most traditionally “masculine” men you know–the ones you assume are the most clearly heterosexual, are actually gay.

    Funny, but I’ve served in the military, while completely closeted (in denial, actually). The only soldier who ever grabbed my ass was an allegedly heterosexual man, and his buddies seemed to think it was great fun. When I reacted negatively, I was considered to be a complete jerk for doing so.

    #12:
    They refuse to hear most of the cases that are sent to them, and that’s part of their job. They get to pick and choose and when they refuse to hear a case, they don’t have to say why. So when they refuse to hear a case, all we know–unless they say specifically otherwise–is that they refuse to hear the case. Period. Any conclusion anybody draws from that is their own speculation.

    In this situation, it has been acknowledged that the Obama administration requested that the Court not grant cert (i.e., not agree to hear the case). President Obama has repeatedly stated that he is committed to overturning DADT, but he also believes strongly that this should be done legislatively through Congress, rather than by executive order or court ruling.

    Further, we can’t take the refusal to grant cert as an indicator of where the justices stand on the ultimate issue. While only takes four of the justices to grant cert, those justices who believe the law to be unconstitutional may be very uncertain of such a ruling under the current makeup of the Court. They would rather vote to deny cert, than have an actual ruling issued when it looks like the majority might uphold the law. Add in the fact that the Court is in the midst of a retirement/appointment, and the situation becomes even less predictable for those justices who would like to see a ruling against DADT.

    #25:
    The poll question itself is erroneous, in that the Court did not reach any “decision regarding” DADT.

  28. Nick, I agree completely with almost all of your comment, but . . .

    That last sentence isn’t splitting hairs; it’s mangling them. *grin*

    Choosing to not hear arguments is a decision the court made. It made the decision to not hear the case. What it didn’t do is render a legal decision on the issue. If we are going to split hairs this finely, let’s at least split them correctly. *bigger GRIN*

  29. confusion, on post 19. I was conflating comments earlier regarding the BSA policies on homosexuals with the military. Sort of makes my snide comment ridiculous. I am still puzzled by the Drag Queen comment, but not to the degree I was when I thought the context was the BSA. Sorry for the confusion on my part.

  30. Nick, is there anything you haven’t done? 🙂 I was wondering if you’d stop by.

    Surveys have shown for several years now that younger soldiers are completely unconcerned about the idea of serving alongside openly gay troops, and many of them state that they know they already do so. They don’t care, so long as that gay soldier is doing his/her job.

    I have no doubt about what the surveys say, only the interpretation. (I do have an issue with surveys in and of themselves, and the weight we give them, but that’s a different matter.) The homophobes are also a minority, but they can make things difficult in their own way. I’ve always had the opinion that society will shift in favor of gay rights, it will just take some time. These young soldiers are probably a fair example. However, that does still leave plenty of not-young soldiers who may feel differently. Big changes take time.

    I’d like to hear what the specific alternatives are. If the alternative is that everybody be required to reveal their sexual orientation, then I’m more for DADT. If it’s up to the individual whether they disclose, and everyone is held responsible for their actions (on both sides), that’s a bit more reasonable to me.

  31. #33:
    Nick, is there anything you haven’t done?

    Yes! I haven’t done drag! 🙂

    If the alternative is that everybody be required to reveal their sexual orientation, then I’m more for DADT. If it’s up to the individual whether they disclose, and everyone is held responsible for their actions (on both sides), that’s a bit more reasonable to me.

    Nobody should be required to disclose their sexual orientation. At the same time, one should be able to disclose their sexual orientation if they choose to, without having to face loosing their job for doing so. At the same time, nobody should have to slink around in the shadows, hiding who they are, in order to keep their job. The fact is that much of “illicit” heterosexual activity is essentially celebrated within the military. If a young heterosexual soldier has leave time in a country where prostitution is legal, he can hire five of them in a day, and get an “atta-boy” from his fellow soldiers when he boasts to everyone in hearing distance.

    If, on the other hand, a young gay soldier has leave time, and chooses to visit a gay bar for the evening, he has to quietly hope that nobody from his unit saw him walking in or out, or else he’s going to be discharged for being gay. That’s simply wrong.

  32. Nick:

    There are several points I think are unsupported in 30.

    When you point to many of the world’s countries, do you really mean more than many western countries? Largely the EU? Not very good examples of military readiness if they can barely get a helicopter squadron into Afghanistan — and that was my earlier point: the rights of gays and lesbians are MOST effected by the ability of the military to protect them from ideologues who want to kill them.

    Discrimination against gays (and women, period) in the western militaries is a self-correcting problem because of the attitudes, as you note, of the younger soldiers. Changing cultures that regard themselves as at war with us is NOT self-correcting by good example — or we wouldn’t need an army in the first place.

  33. #36:
    Unless you’re prepared to demonstrate that an army was unable to properly deploy its helicopters BECAUSE they had openly gay soldiers, your comment is a huge non-sequitor.

    Of course, it should also be apparent that the existence and enforcement of a discriminatory law cannot be “self-correcting.” it must be corrected by changing the law, not just by changing attitudes.

  34. Nick:

    I think you’re seeing my point backward. We are discussing the issue of gay rights as having to do with whether they have equal status in the military. Some years ago we worried about whether women would have equal rights in the military. A generation ago we worried about whether different races would have equal rights in the military. If our military becomes completely non-discriminatory on all of these issues, racism and various forms of sexism will still be destroying lives all over the planet at the point of a gun.

    What should Mormon gays and lesbians and feminists be doing to support gays and lesbians and feminists in those societies? My point is that we’re straining at gnats and swallowing camels when DADT is the debate we’re having about the military.

  35. FYI, “A 2006 opinion poll by the independent Military Times newspapers showed that only 30% of those surveyed think openly gay people should serve, while 59% are opposed.” (http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1707545,00.html) — I know I said I had issues with surveys but I present this for one set of actual numbers to work with. Wikipedia further states and provides sources: 26% in favor, 37% opposed, 37% no preference. 72% of respondents who had experience with gays or lesbians in their unit said that the presence of gay or lesbian unit members had either no impact or a positive impact on their personal morale, while 67% said as much for overall unit morale. Of those respondents uncertain whether they had served with gay or lesbian personnel, only 51% thought that such unit members would have a neutral or positive effect on personal morale, while 58% thought that they would have a negative effect on unit morale. 73% of respondents said that they felt comfortable in the presence of gay and lesbian personnel.

    So 51% of 72% (~35%) of those who had experience with gays and lesbians were dubious. Then 58% of 28% (~14-15%). That seems like a pretty sizable chunk that are unsure. So going to a gay bar really makes you gay? Enough to be discharged? I went to a gay bar once. I’m not big on the bar atmosphere, but it seemed decent enough as bars go. Discharging someone for that seems like a violation of the moniker “Don’t ask, don’t tell.”

  36. I think we humans have a hard time understanding equality and civil rights. We pick and choose when we apply it.

    We could always go back to segregated platoons like our government did with African-Americans. I’m sure the white soldiers felt very uncomfortable around the black soldiers. Why force them to sacrifice that comfort for civil rights?

    A homosexual can die for his or her freedom just as bravely as a heterosexual. They should not have to hide or be ashamed of who they are to do so.

  37. 7. J.Ro

    The place for activism, I feel, is wherever civil rights and equal protections are being violated. If our laws don’t hold the military accountable, who will?

  38. Sorry folks, didn’t realize someone already used the African-American argument and conceded defeat. I guess I have been defeated as well 🙂

  39. #39:
    If our military becomes completely non-discriminatory on all of these issues, racism and various forms of sexism will still be destroying lives all over the planet at the point of a gun.

    So this means we shouldn’t seek to overturn DADT, and we shouldn’t have racially integrated the military, since discrimination will still go on in the world elsewhere? That’s like saying we shouldn’t outlaw murder, because there will still be people being killed somewhere in the world.

  40. I’ve always supported DADT, with the caveat that I don’t care about someone else’s sexual orientation. At all.

    If I was designing a policy it would be something like DADT. “We do not ask anyone’s sexual orientation, we don’t want them to tell us, and we aren’t going to do anything about it if we are told. It is irrelevant to military service, employment, and pretty much everything else. Now go away before we get annoyed and use you as target practice for the napalm squad.” I mean really. That’s how stupid it is to ask about someone’s sexual orientation in employment or military service. Oh yeah, I almost forgot this part, “Military personnel who are dumb enough to think that they should try to sexually abuse or harass other personnel, or harass other personnel because of their sexual orientation are worthless twats and we don’t need them in the military. Goodbye to their sorry carcasses.”

    Of course, that’s about how I feel regarding religious discrimination, gender discrimination, and several OTHER types of discrimination. My training & education is in personnel selection. I have ONE focus when I look at a person with relation to a job–are they capable of doing the job and of functioning within the environment? For physically demanding jobs, I don’t care who you are, I just want to know if you can lift/run/endure as necessary. For jobs where you are responsible for safety, I want to know if you are going to be medically sound (no seizures allowed if you are a pilot or bus driver, sorry!). I support personality testing that is predictive of job performance. I support skill testing for professional positions, and a lot of other things, but when you start discriminating against people for biological characteristics over which they have no control (gender/race) or for voluntary group membership (religion/political party), then you are an idiot and don’t deserve your job.

    There are a FEW exceptions to this–obviously the LDS church should not be required to hire individuals holding views that are opposed to its beliefs. No church should. Likewise, political party offices should not be required to hire staffers at any level from opposing viewpoints. Rape-trauma clinics may arguably be within their rights to maintain an all-female staff (though this is HIGHLY debatable).

    I will make a point–at no instance have I stated if sexual orientation is a biological characteristic or a voluntary group membership. This is intentional. The science on this point is NOT GOOD from what I can tell (all researching parties show varying degrees of bias), but I personally lean toward a mixed model of genetics and environment. Which is not that different from a LOT of other human traits. Frankly it doesn’t matter since either way I don’t think it impacts job performance in 99.999999999999999999999% of all jobs, so should not be used as a selection criterion. Even in the military. (One exception would be the LDS church where church employment requires one to be a member in good standing, and sexually active homosexuals do not fit that description; whether or not a confessed homosexual who remains celibate could hold a job with the church is thankfully not my decision, but I’m pretty sure that the Supreme Court would allow the Church to deny employment based on that, since it has already held that the LDS Church can deny employment to non-members).

  41. #40:
    Since you’re reporting a 2006 survey, perhaps we should also include more recent data. http://www.gallup.com/poll/120764/Conservatives-Shift-Favor-Openly-Gay-Service-Members.aspx

    This May 2009 Gallup Poll, released just five days ago, indicates that 69% of Americans favor allowing openly gay men and lesbian women to serve in the military. Surprisingly, 58% of conservatives agree, 58% of republicans agree, and 60% of weekly churchgoers agree with this position.

    So going to a gay bar really makes you gay? Enough to be discharged? I went to a gay bar once. I’m not big on the bar atmosphere, but it seemed decent enough as bars go. Discharging someone for that seems like a violation of the moniker “Don’t ask, don’t tell.”

    DADT provides that a soldier may be investigated and dischraged if he/she (1) states that he or she is lesbian, gay, or bisexual, (2) engages in physical contact with someone of the same sex for the purposes of sexual gratification, or (3) marries, or attempts to marry a person of the same sex. Mind you, these are not limited to “on duty” time, either. They encompass all aspects of a soldier’s personal life.

    The prohibition against “stating” that one is gay, lesbian, or bisexual has a remarkably wide interpretation in practice. If a gay soldier has a personal website, facebook profile, etc., that mentions their orientation, that’s a sufficient “statement.” In fact, any behavior or words that a so-called “reasonable person” would believe were intended to mean that the actor/speaker is gay, is now considered a “statement” under DADT. Furthermore, a commanding officer can try to elicit such a statement. For example, the officer can call in a soldier to ask why he/she isn’t married yet, probing for an admission.

    The “physical contact” segment of DADT has likewise grown, to the point that kissing, hugging, and hand-holding have been considered “homosexual acts” under the law. While associating with known homosexuals or being seen entering/exiting a gay bar is not considered enough in itself to launch a formal investigation, the fact remains that if a soldier is seen doing these things, they are likely to face higher scrutiny and suspicion.

    Taking this further, suppose a male soldier attends a gay pride parade (permissible in itself as a mere “associational action”) in support of his gay brother. If that soldier happens to be seen hugging another man in the crowd, that’s sufficient to be considered a “homosexual act,” as well as a “non-verbal statement” under DADT. The soldier would have to actively rebut the presumptions raised, and reports indicate that this is rarely successful.

    Did you know that all vehicles present on a military base are subject to warrantless search? If a soldier’s vehicle is parked on base, and he happens to have any items in the vehicle which could be construed as evidence that he is gay, that’s fair game for discharge under DADT.

    Did you know that soldiers have limited confidentiality privileges when it comes to therapists and doctors? They’re protected in a criminal matter, but not when it comes to DADT. Even military chaplains have reported gay soldiers who “confidentially” discussed their sexual orientation in an effort to seek spiritual guidance.

    In short, DADT is far more than a requirement to “keep it in the closet/bedroom.”

  42. I abstained from voting. None of the alternatives matches my opinion. Sooner or later, the DADT policy probably ought to be modified or ended, but it is not the responsibility of the Supreme Court to decide when and how it will happen.

  43. Nick:

    Re 44: I don’t worry about outlawing murder to the point I stop asking whether the police can actually protect us from being murdered. I gave an example above of the Thebean Sacred Band, an elite unit ORGANIZED around pairs of gay lovers, that administered the only defeat to the Spartans in 400 years. So clearly, I believe that being straight or gay need have nothing whatsoever to do with military performance.

    But every example you cite consists of societies that used the military to purpue social goals AND lacked military readiness that led to military disaster in short periods of time. The first attitude did NOT cause the second. Both, however, reflected a common, but erronious attitude that their military superiority could be taken for granted.

    Indeed, in #46 you try to trump a poll of MILITARY personnel with data on CIVILIAN attitudes. You act shocked that search warrants should be unnecessary on cars parked in military bases. Did you know that there has been a successful Islamist attack on American soldiers in the United States in the past 10 days, and that several attacks have been broken up targeting places like Fort Dix in the past several years? I certainly hope the military is suspicious of anything and everything.

    Now, I admit I have my own parochial perspective. I have friends and family who are military and work or worked in Federal security enforcement. I tend to listen to them with more credibility on the subjects related to military and security issues.

    I also worked in New York City for an environmetal company around 1980. As a matter of fact, I had a window office on the 90th Floor of the Trade Center’s South Tower, looking out kitty corner on the North Tower. You can see my old office window vanishing into the fireball on the righthand side of the famous TIME magazine photograph of the second 9/11 strike. So it’s entirely too easy for me to imagine what it would be like to be sitting at my old desk, see this incredibly fast, large “thing” flash in front of me and blow out the side of the North Tower, and still be sitting there in shocked amazement or outright terror a few minutes later when the second attack came for me.

    Living in the Washington suburbs since we left New York, I’ve also gotten to see the trauma inflicted on the entire city when a mere pair of militant Islamists began shooting citizens randomly from a sniper post hidden in the trunk of a car. It gets your attention when gas stations can only keep customers if they put up tarps around the pumping areas to screen them from rifle sight lines. I’ve also had the experience of sending a letter to my daughter, and then finding out the next day that the post office the letter went through has been closed because they’ve detected anthrax contamination.

    So although I very much want to see an end to discrimination against gays in terms of civil life, I still think you’re straining at gnats and swallowing camels.

  44. DrewE: The place for activism, I feel, is wherever civil rights and equal protections are being violated. If our laws don’t hold the military accountable, who will?

    When I briefly mentioned activism, I meant that the gay/lesbian soldiers serving right now should not take on a dual role as activists. Sure, they’re being discriminated against, but I think we tend to forget what role they intentionally took on. (Servicemen/women joining since the 90s should have been aware of the situation.)

    Military being a unique legal circumstance (soldiers legally kill people in situations which, as far as our legal accountability is concerned, would be considered highly punishable), both FireTag and I agree that the impetus should come from within the military justice system. Like many things, this is a delicate balance between civilian opinion, justice systems, and other government functions. The military has their own justice system, with its own flaws, but I think that’s a better place for the decisions to be made. I’d guess that most civilians have a limited perspective on ramifications of decisions made in the military.

    Nick: In short, DADT is far more than a requirement to “keep it in the closet/bedroom.”

    If the implementation of DADT is in fact that mangled, then it’s high time for a change. There wasn’t a vote option for “The SC should direct the military courts to revise the law to prevent McCarthyesque discharge of otherwise effective soldiers.” There is surely a way to “live and let live” that allows for keeping soldiers who are not a sexual harassment (or combat) liability because of their sexual orientation. I know about the no-warrant search thing, and it’s understandable to me. What gets ridiculous is how far some of these seemingly minimal things get taken.

    I’m sure some gay soldiers are well-suited and do their job well. The openly gay men and women that I know would not function well in the military. I would hope that the type that are less able to do the work the military requires of them.

  45. DrewE:

    I’d like to add one point to what J.Ro said.

    “If our laws don’t hold the military accountable, who will?”

    The military’s internal code of honor has, does, and will continue to hold the military accountable, because the basis for upholding ANY civilian law that is actually still necessary is ultimately the government’s monopoly of force. Until the law is written in all of our hearts, that is the way it will continue to be.

    Civilian control of the military exists because of the loyalty the soldier, and particularly the officer corps, feels to American ideals. When the attitudes of civilians become too detached from those of the soldiers, as happened during the Viet Nam era and remained that way in many quarters since, a society is playing with fire.

  46. #148:
    Firetag, I expressed no shock at all about vehicles on a military base being subject to search. My comments were all directed at the real implications of DADT, because J.Ro seemed to understand the issue as much more narrow than it truly is.

  47. Evil creeps on you not at full speed but a little here and a little there. They were able to boil a frog alive not by throwing him in boiling water but by turning it up a little at a time. It happened with abortion. Never in a million years did people think that they could ever sacrifice their unborn children. It’s legal now even up to 9 months.
    Now with the gay issue. They want to push this unholy lifestyle on everyone. They do this by making it legal.
    NAMBLA was part og and continues to be a part of the gay right movement. They actually advocate men having sex with boys as young as 3 years old. Who knows, like abortion perhaps in a few years this behavior won’t be considered a deviancy and curse upon society.
    Society is not obligated to condone or advocate deviant behaviors such as homosexuality. The military is to be commended for not backing down on this issue.

  48. FWIW, those numbers I linked to were the unexpected result of the first page of a search for “gays in the military,” my attempt to find what I could about the application of DADT. The article, in many ways, came out of nowhere, lest it be thought that I cherry-picked that dataset for this conversation (not that anyone made those accusations).

  49. Jon, really, this has been done to death (no pun intended) but the church allows abortions in some cases. Your view (as it sounds in your comment) is WAY more extreme that the church’s.

  50. 49. JRo

    I did not know that gay activism within the military was a problem

    50. FireTag

    I don’t think it will be long before equal treatment of homosexuals becomes an American ideal. I give it 10 years or less.

  51. DrewE: Re 55

    I wish I believed you were right, but almost anything having to do with sex and human beings can come from deep in the history of the primate brain.

    What if homophobia is a reflection of an evolutionary avoidance of anything that doesn’t match subconscious behavioral clues about potential mates? What if homophobes are born that way? After all, the keys to sexual attraction are known to involve multiple subconscious clues. One of them involves smells that may signal an especially compatible immune system.

    Evolution chooses whatever works, not whatever our ethics says is ideal. Sexism, in any form, may prove harder to overcome than racism, and the latter task is still incomplete in America.

  52. DrewE, I didn’t mean to imply that it is currently a problem. What I meant was that there seems to be plenty of potential for the problem. When people feel they’re mistreated, a very common reaction is to speak up and try to work for what they want (i.e. activism). And gay rights is a common place to find activist ideals. The point of the (very small) statement on activism was in the second sentence of my reply, which you can take another look at. Some people like to look at the military and equate it with normal life. I think that’s a foolish approach, and ignores important differences between military and civilian life and the goals of each, which makes applying civilian opinion to the military world a particularly complicated thing.

  53. 59. J.Ro

    What do you think would happen if they allowed homosexuals to be open about their orientation in the military? Do you think it would cause the military to completely dissolve or turn on the country?

  54. #56:
    jon, I sincerely hope that you will seek counselling to help you overcome your evident fetish for torture/snuff pornography. You’re spending your time watching the kind of things that Ted Bundy claimed turned him into a serial killer. Seriously. Really, dude.

  55. jon, you are right; I will let you know. Your #56 was deleted. It is of NO relevance to this thread and is wrong on so many levels, especially for a forum like this.

    Serious question:

    How in the world did you think it would be appropriate for this blog?

    I am going to say this very directly, so please understand:

    I and the other admins here have no problem whatsoever with someone explaining why they disapprove of homosexual activity – or even homosexuality, for that matter. I personally am OK with the current classification of such activity as sin in the current Church, even as I do not like the double standard that exists currently – when “homosexual activity” is defined MUCH more broadly than heterosexual activity – when I could do things with my then girlfriend without breaking the Law of Chastity that a homosexual member could not do. I believe we truly should have one standard for all, even if it continues to exclude homosexual members and single members in some ways. However, your comments have crossed our policy lines more than once (both by making sweeping generalities that simply aren’t true and by making statements that simply are personal attacks), so I am asking you to be more careful in how you address these issues here.

    I think we all would like to have you continue to comment here. There is plenty of room for conservative voices, even what some would call extreme conservative voices. We actually need someone with your views here if we are to have as broad a diversity as possible and manageable. We try hard to be accepting of nearly the whole range of opinions here. However, we simply must insist on some level of civility and respect, so please be a bit more careful in how you state your comments to avoid hyperbolic over-generalizations and personal attacks.

  56. Ray,

    “There is plenty of room for conservative voices, even what some would call extreme conservative voices.”

    You gotta be kidding me!

    You regularly censor those on the conservative side because their beliefs offend you, (the very problem with censorship by the way)

    But if you were fair about this then you’d have deleted Nick’s #60 as well!

  57. Carlos, you didn’t see the video. If you had, you would understand why I deleted it. jon’s comment had NO conservative or liberal statements in it; it was JUST a link to a sick video. Seriously, if jon’s name had not been attached to it, it would have been deleted as abominable spam by any admin who clicked on the link.

    I didn’t delete Nick’s comment, for two reasons: 1) Nick is a permablogger on this site, and we don’t delete each others’ comments (even though we tell each other all the time when we think we’ve gone overboard); 2) I was going to say much the same thing Nick said in a sincere effort to provide counsel to jon about that video. It was wildly inappropriate and extremely disturbing. I do hope, sincerely, that anyone who watches videos like that will stop – and I will continue to delete links to videos like that without hesitation. It was sick.

    Oh, and, fwiw, I think most commenters here will get a chuckle out of the idea that I am a liberal who regularly censors conservative opinion because it offends me.

    Let’s drop this, please, everyone. No more comments about the video. It’s gone now, thank goodness, so let’s get back to the post and the related discussion.

  58. DrewE, now you’re putting words in my mouth. What I’ve been saying all along is that the unique job of the military is such that soldiers should put their duties first, before issues of sexuality. If they do that, it wouldn’t be a problem. But let’s face it, they don’t always do everything they would ideally do. I think homosexuality in and of itself is irrelevant to service, and I have no problem with gays serving openly in the military, as long as it doesn’t decrease the effectiveness of those around them. Military readiness comes before social issues.

    I do also think that the time will come when it won’t be an issue at all. I don’t think that time is right now.

  59. J.Ro, you’ve yet to give any evidence that military service by openly gay or lesbian soldiers harms military readiness. Since no such evidence has been put forth, it’s difficult to accept the offhand claim/worry as suficient justification to discriminate against supposedly equal American citizens.

    I find it apalling that our military is handing out waivers like candy right now, in order to allow numerous convicted felons to enlist, while claiming that allowing law-abiding gays and lesbians to serve openly would be a threat to the armed forces.

  60. I thought the following letter which was published in this morning’s Washington Post was relevant as another voice on this debate. I’m having to retype it rather than download it directly, so any typos are mine.

    “I was surprised to learn of the Obama administration’s decision to side against Army infantryman and patriot James E. Pietrangelo II in his quest to overturn the military’s ill-conceived “don’t ask. don’t tell” policy [front page, June 9].

    “As someone who worked on behalf of President Obama’s campaign last fall and especially as a gay American, I find it extraordinarily objectionable that the president has gone back on the promise he made to all Americans to fight to repeal this law.

    “I find it even more objectionable that the president deems inequality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans is “rationally related to the government’s legitimate interest.” as stated in a recently filed administration brief submitted in defense of the Pentagon’s policy.

    “Mr. President, this is unacceptable.

    WILL ELWOOD
    Salt Lake City”

  61. J.Ro, you’ve yet to give any evidence that military service by openly gay or lesbian soldiers harms military readiness.

    My evidence is anecdotal, the opinions and stories of some who I have worked with or known within recent years who served in the military. They stated that they did not feel as safe (that’s putting it gently), using language that would be offensive to almost anyone. They further stated that there were situations when (again, to put it gently) that lack of trust led to mistakes. I have opted not to share the actual stories because they’re highly derogatory and disrespectful. They were things I never wanted to hear, I don’t think anyone else would wish to hear. What they said was done to some of the gay soldiers was blatant mistreatment. I’ve never said that their opinions and experiences were shared by all soldiers, but they were enough to make me question whether it’s safe for all involved–soldier, civilian, straight, or gay. I have no surveys, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.

  62. J.Ro, surely you realize that I could substitute “female” in your above statement, and have an equally “valid” (and very accurate!) argument for excluding women from the military.

  63. You’re right, Nick, and it probably has been used that way by someone else. That was a big change for the military too. In some ways it’s been great, in some it hasn’t been so easy. I’ve known Marines who became Marines because they were less likely to ever serve with a woman.

    I’ve never said that I agree with any of these soldiers’ opinions about women or gays/lesbians. If they can do the job well, it doesn’t much matter to me who’s doing it. It’s not a representative sample, and I’ve never claimed it to be, but the problem with soldiers serving openly gay has been highlighted by some of the super-conservative soldiers I’ve known. I know for a fact that it’s a distraction for some soldiers, and I’m not comfortable with the military being the place to enforce tolerance and acceptance. As it stands, I think there’s progress yet to be made before it will work out (most likely it will be found in the changing attitudes of the incoming recruits and future officers).

  64. I’ve no doubt that “the problem with” African American soldiers serving in the same units with Caucasian soldiers was “highlighted by some of the super-conservative soldiers,” and was “a distraction for some soldiers.”

    Harry Truman apparently didn’t agree with your view that the military shouldn’t be “the place to enforce tolerance and acceptance.” He moved on the issue long before many in the military were “ready” for it. I’m sure there were some ugly incidents, etc., but overall, I’d say his strategy worked incredibly well.

  65. Unless you put a sign on every gay soldier’s forehead, the race argument is not fully analogous. Homosexual and racial discrimination are two different fears. You might argue that it’s all fear of the unknown, but that’s oversimplification. You’re clearly not going to change the way you see it, and my perspective is not likely to change under present circumstances. I think it’s obvious that we’ll have to agree to disagree.

  66. Nick:

    Truman’s strategy may have worked well if seen from the narrow goal of integrating the military, but I still wish he’d spent more of his political capital instead on getting the military better weapons and supplies before the Korean War erupted.

    We’d not have a divided Korean penninsula today, with millions living in abject poverty, without even electricity, and every major power on the planet scrambling to keep an unstable situation from spiraling into catastrophes involving mushroom clouds over the next several years.

  67. Although I don’t disagree with you, Nick, it has been pointed out already in this thread that Truman integrated the military during peacetime, when the danger of incidents leading to actual physical harm would have been much reduced, as opposed to present day, when we are involved in a war on 2 fronts and troop levels as well as troop morale are at all time lows. Again, I’m not saying I disagree with your points, because I don’t. I do, however, think that it is legitimate for the government to consider all the relevant factors, practical as well as principles, in determining what is the best time and environment to do away with DADT.

  68. 71:
    Unless you put a sign on every gay soldier’s forehead, the race argument is not fully analogous.

    You’re right—Since you can’t always spot a gay man, your worries about rampant gay-bashing between soldiers in the event DADT is repealed are likely overwrought.

    #72:
    You’re suggesting that had Truman not racially integrated the military, the U.S. would have had better weapons and supplies, an undivided Korean penninsula, nobody living in abject poverty, everyone having electricity, and no nuclear weapons? I really don’t wish to be insulting to you personally, but that’s just over the top crazy-talk.

    #73:
    I do, however, think that it is legitimate for the government to consider all the relevant factors, practical as well as principles, in determining what is the best time and environment to do away with DADT.

    I can guarantee you, brjones, that there will always be excuses for those who wish to say “the time just isn’t right” to end discrimination. Sad.

  69. #74 – Nick, like I said, I don’t disagree with you. Part of the problem for me is that I don’t have much information about this issue, which I imagine is the case for most of us. I never served in the military and don’t know many people who have. For me, all I can do is look at the arguments presented and make a judgment how I feel about what I’m seeing. If, for example, the government presented compelling evidence that having openly gay soldiers in the military had led to X number of incidents of loss of life or violence against fellow soldiers, etc., then I would say that there is an interest in preventing such incidents. Although I haven’t seen statistics of that sort, that seems to be the line that is coming from the government. I have a great interest in seeing equal rights for gays in all walks of life, including the military. I also have an interest in seeing our military doing the best job of protecting our nation that it can do. I hope that it can do both. Currently we’re being told, in essence, that we can’t do both. Because I don’t have much information, all I can do is go on what I’m being told. As I’ve said, I don’t actively support DADT. My only point was that IF there is a tangible, measurable problem that arises from openly gay soldiers serving in the military, the government has an interest in solving that problem, as it does any other problem. You are saying that there is no problem, or that it is a minimal risk. If that is the case then DADT should be reversed. The problem, as is often the case, is that the government is controlling the information here, which makes it difficult to get a handle on.

  70. I support the Supreme Court decision because there’s nothing about Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell that violates the Constitution. You can’t be arbitrary on the basis of race, creed, or gender because of subsequent amendments. Homosexuality is not in that rubric.

  71. So are you saying, Nick, that you would feel completely comfortable being openly gay in the military right now? No reservations? Would you be willing (other considerations aside, like family, physical condition, career, etc.) to be the first? Or is there something in the back of your mind that might still make you a bit apprehensive? If soldiers did allow soldier to be openly gay, I don’t understand how you could deny that fear of homosexuality is a very different fear than that involved in racism. Frankly, it’s less likely that any random black soldier would make some sort of advances on someone else. I know there are allowances for hetero relationships, within strict regulations, so that would be allowed for homosexual relationships with the changes you propose, right? That’s where anyone afraid would likely be worried, as it’s not exactly always a comfortable position to be in.

  72. In addition, doesn’t the idea, “Since you can’t always spot a gay man” imply a certain degree of hiding one’s sexual orientation? That has a similar ring to “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

  73. Nick:

    I do understand from long years of working within the Federal system that an Administration only has so much capital, so much time, and that it has to be further subdivided within several areas of government (because Congressional agencies, Federal departments, and interest groups divide that way as well.) Why do you think Obama is going at his highest priorities at such a frenetic pace?

    Specifically, Truman had small resources of political capital to devote to defense issues in 1948, and did not use them as wisely in foresight as he should have in hindsight. He ended up firing MacArthur for insubordination after the latter had become a national hero in WW2 and then had rescued the Korean War from a military disaster with the Inchon landings and turn it into a stalemate.

    And then the nation ended up electing another war hero, Eisenhower, instead of the democrat as Truman’s successor. And it STILL took the assassination of John Kennedy to give Johnson the leverage to pass the Civil Rights Act in 1964.

    So please do not dismiss my arguments out of hand from such a narrow perspective. It is quite possible that Truman might even agree with me if we ever get to ask him.

  74. #78:
    You suggested that racial desegregation was different, because race is visually evident. I simply pointed out that since homosexuality is not visually evident (despite the silly stereotypes employed by some, even here), your “visually evident” argument is actually against your point.

    #77:
    So are you saying, Nick, that you would feel completely comfortable being openly gay in the military right now? No reservations? Would you be willing (other considerations aside, like family, physical condition, career, etc.) to be the first? Or is there something in the back of your mind that might still make you a bit apprehensive?

    Assuming I was willing to once again serve in the military, I would be very comfortable doing so as an openly gay man in the absence of DADT. I would not, however, be the “first” to do so. The truth of the matter is that a number of gay soldiers are serving with the full knowledge of their fellow soldiers. Enforcement of DADT is frankly quite arbitrary. In a few cases, soldiers have actually approached their commanding officers, made a direct statement of their sexual orientation, and faced no action. Why? Because they happen to have commanding officers who value their contributions more than they value DADT enforcement. On the other hand, of course, we currently have numerous Arab linguists, and many highly-decorated, long-serving soldiers, being discharged purely because they are gay. That’s a direct HARM to our military readiness.

    Frankly, it’s less likely that any random black soldier would make some sort of advances on someone else.

    J.Ro, on what basis do you conclude that it’s “less likely” for a “random” African American soldier to make a sexual advance toward another soldier, than it would be for a gay soldier to do so? The only thing I could possibly see motivating such a claim is an actual prejudice, wherein you think that all gay men are predators, bent on seducing straight men. I’ve got news for you, J.Ro. Most gay men are NOT interested in doing anything sexual with a heterosexual male, because frankly, the latter rarely know what they’re doing!

    I know there are allowances for hetero relationships, within strict regulations, so that would be allowed for homosexual relationships with the changes you propose, right? That’s where anyone afraid would likely be worried, as it’s not exactly always a comfortable position to be in.

    In the vast majority of cases, if a gay man mistakenly makes an advance on a heterosexual man, a simple “no thank you” (or even “no thank you, I’m straight”) is sufficient—just as it is if a heterosexual man makes an unwanted sexual advance toward a woman. The military is actually quite serious about penalizing sexual harassment, and I’ve NO doubt that any gay soldiers who couldn’t exercise self-control and propriety would be quickly dealt with.

  75. #79:
    It’s not a matter of dismissing your arguments out of hand, FireTag. Rather, it’s a matter of dismissing your unsupported speculations out of hand. Even with your criticisms of Truman, you’ve yet to give the slightest reason to support your allegations that racially integrating the military was the cause of the following:
    (1) the U.S. lacking better weapons and supplies,
    (2) the Korean penninsula being divided,
    (3) “millions” living in abject poverty,
    (4) “millions” living without electricity, and
    (5) the threat of nuclear weapons.

    Honestly, FireTag, how can you even read the above without laughing at yourself? Those claims almost make Rush Limbaugh sound like a reasonable man!

  76. You suggested that racial desegregation was different, because race is visually evident. I simply pointed out that since homosexuality is not visually evident (despite the silly stereotypes employed by some, even here), your “visually evident” argument is actually against your point.

    Homophobia is a fear, and whether the object of the fear is clearly obvious is a big part of how a fear plays out. Racism, as I said before, is a different dynamic. Fear of “something different”, but through a different mechanism.

    on what basis do you conclude that it’s “less likely” for a “random” African American soldier to make a sexual advance toward another soldier, than it would be for a gay soldier to do so? The only thing I could possibly see motivating such a claim is an actual prejudice, wherein you think that all gay men are predators, bent on seducing straight men.

    The basis on which I conclude that has nothing to do with a specific prejudice as much as the definition of the term “homosexual”: of, relating to, or characterized by a tendency to direct sexual desire toward individuals of one’s own sex (Merriam-Webster). I see it as reality that gay men are interested in other men, though not ALL other men, and not exclusively straight men (similarly for lesbian women). Correct me if I’m missing something.

    Most gay men are NOT interested in doing anything sexual with a heterosexual male, because frankly, the latter rarely know what they’re doing!

    If everybody had this same perception that “most” gay men want to keep to themselves in this way, I have a feeling the law would be different and would be having a very different discussion.

    I believe I made a concession about the arbitrariness of DADT enforcement quite a way back. It should be enforced consistently.

  77. Nick:

    I’m sorry, but you seem to be confusing the concepts of direct impacts and opportunity costs. Being completely overwhelmed in item (1) at the beginning of the Korean War was the direct cause of items (2) thru (5). Can you please name authors who argue that the US was NOT surprised and unprepared for the Korean invasion? Or that being unprepared affected millions of lives during that war and in the succeeding decades? You won’t even have to watch FOX. I promise. You can read about the ongoing nuclear proliferation threats in the New York Times or watch them on the BBC.

    I have stated that it would have been a better use of Truman’s resources to focus on (1) than on desegregating the military. There are opportunity costs involved in the expenditure of political capital in EVERY administration. If you do not understand that concept, learning it will make you a much more effective political activist. Because every mayor in the country understands the concept, let alone every presidential advisor.

    At least make a case as to how Truman had the political resources to do both.

    You have not even presented a case as to how significantly that desegregation of the military hastened the integration of African Americans into US society. Where would you rank military desegregation in importance in the civil rights movement compared to, say, Selma, George Wallace, Dr. King, or the March on Washington? Why?

    Please go read some history of the years leading up to the Korean War, the state of the US military in those years on issues OTHER than desegregation, the development of the Cold War in Asia after World War II, and domestic politics during war demobilization.

    Convince me you can actually discuss the above issues with some background and knowledge. Then I’ll be ready to rehear your other arguments about desegregation’s relevance to DADT. You are the one with the burden of proof to convince the system of the rightness of your position. DADT is still standing.

    Or you can waste your time trying to mock me. Your choice.

  78. I’m sorry, but you seem to be confusing the concepts of direct impacts and opportunity costs.

    Not at all, FireTag. The problem is you’re not even supporting an argument on the basis of opportunity costs. You’re merely making an assertion, and expecting it to be accepted at face value. You need to demonstrate that Truman’s integration of the military actually expended his political capital in such a way that he was unable to accomplish the other objectives you list. Instead, you’ve mistaken correlation for causation. Further, you’ve failed to give any indication that the objectives you listed actually could have been accomplished by Truman, had he followed your preferred choice by continuing racial discrimination in the military. Frankly, I see no reason to believe that the conditions you listed would be much different, whether Truman integrated the military or not.

    Convince me you can actually discuss the above issues with some background and knowledge.

    As the guy who referenced FOX News out of the blue, you’ve already demonstrated that “convincing you” is not possible. For that matter, you’ve already stated as much.

    Or you can waste your time trying to mock me. Your choice.

    My intent was never to mock you, FireTag, though I’ll admit I mocked an argument that was incredulous, unsupported, and desperate-sounding.

  79. Perhaps it was unwarranted for me to assume that if you instinctively name Rush Limbaugh as your comparison for mocking others who disagree with you, you probably are uncomfortable listening to FOX as well. I’m sure they will be happy to know you are contributing to their high ratings.

    If you regard me as unconvincible, then stop insulting my belief that the military is immensely more about societal protection than about societal perfection. Agree to disagree.

    I’ll repeat my basic point: DADT still stands; I’m not the one with the burden of proof in convincing others, you are.

    You are the one who has to make the case that Truman had the political resources to do both, in the face of the unrefutable historical fact that he failed in regard to protecting Korea. You ignore the fact that CORRELATIONS do occur several times this centruy between attempts to shift the focus from military as social protector to military as social perfector and subsequent military disaster. I think the CAUSE in each case is a disconnection from the threats of hostile attack that results in disrespect for and weakening of the military’s primary capabilities.

    Suggest a credible alternative cause. Instead, you continue to ignore even trying to make a case that might convince me.

    But cheer up. You might only have to convince President Obama, although so far he’s listening to the Pentagon’s arguments about putting military readiness first. I understand he’s not a big Rush Limbaugh fan either, so you may have better luck.

    In fact, you might even be surprised about places where I’m on your side on issues related to gay and lesbian rights. See the ongoing discussion on human sexuality issues at the Saints Herald blog. There are actually injustices in the Restoration movement and in Restoration families toward gays and lesbians that the church doesn’t need either a US Supreme Court decision or Presidential order to do something about.

    Can we agree to work toward eliminating those injustices together, Nick?

  80. Ray:
    I saw that video that you deleted. It’s actually a warning against lusting after the flesh or carnal sensuality. It’s frightening but if you die in your sins without repentance think how frightening that would be.
    In keeping with this post, I would say that the military has good reason to try to discourage promiscuous behavior amoung its gay troops.

  81. #86:
    I’ll repeat my basic point: DADT still stands; I’m not the one with the burden of proof in convincing others, you are.

    You are the one who has to make the case that Truman had the political resources to do both, in the face of the unrefutable historical fact that he failed in regard to protecting Korea.

    FireTag, I apologize for my tone. You’re obviously a thoughtful person, and it really wasn’t my intention to antagonize you. At the same time, it appears to me that you are arguing that DADT should remain in place, because Truman’s desegregation of the military prevented him from solving a whole list of military and social ills. I don’t question that Truman failed to achieve the things you listed. What I do question, on the other hand, is your apparent assertion that he was unable to do so because he expended his political capital in desegregating the military. I’m sorry, but I just don’t see the evidence of such a connection.

    Once again, I apologize for sending things down an unpleasant road.

  82. #87:
    I saw that video that you deleted. It’s actually a warning against lusting after the flesh or carnal sensuality. It’s frightening but if you die in your sins without repentance think how frightening that would be.

    Phil, I gathered that was jon’s intention in posting the video, but frankly, it really did fall into the category of snuff pornography. Besides that, the producer’s apparent notion of Hell was certainly nothing remotely similar to an LDS perspective on the fate of telestial beings. There was simply nothing remotely redeeming in the video. I get that jon, despite supposedly being LDS, believes I’m going to Protestant Hell. I also get that jon thinks that members of the Community of Christ are going to Hell (see another discussion at MM). We can all get that point without the video.

    In keeping with this post, I would say that the military has good reason to try to discourage promiscuous behavior amoung its gay troops.

    I would say that the military has good reason to try to discourage promiscuous behavior among ALL troops, Phil. Are you really trying to say that this need only applies to gay troops? How does DADT accomplish your goal of discouraging “promiscuous behavior among gay troops?” How would the removal of DADT result in greater promiscuity among gay soldiers?

  83. Nick:

    Thank you for acknowledging my concerns. Actually, I’m not arguing for OR against the DADT policy. I’m arguing for the vital importance that the decision be made by the military chain of command — not be imposed to the end of perfecting the society by people not trained in the requirements of protecting the society.

    Dick Polman, who strongly advocates that Obama follow Truman and allow gays to serve openly, posted yesterday in the Philadelphia paper about a Zogby poll that reported that three-quarters of the Iraq and Afghanistan vets felt comfortable serving with gays. Meanwhile, Polman says, this past April, a Quinnipiac poll found that, by a margin of 56 to 39 percent, people in military households reject the argument that openly serving gays would be divisive.

    OK. So how do I evaluate this poll results? Doesn’t the Zogby poll also imply that one-fourth of Afghan and Iraq vets felt UNcomfortable serving with gays. Does the Quinn poll really mean that 39% of military households think openly serving gays would be devisive. And how many of the people who do not believe openly serving gays would be a problem, believe allowing gays to serve openly is an important priority for the military.

    Only the military chain of command is in position to evaluate those factors, and we have to rely on their judgement and honor.

    We do every day anyway, and most of the time we don’t even notice — which shows a lot about how honorable most of them are.

  84. Nick:
    Society has had a long time to evaluate the acceptance of homosexuality and the consequences. The military clearly sees that it is not a good thing to promote homosexual behavior among its troops. They should be lauded.

  85. #91 what exactly do you mean by homosexual behavior? last time i checked, as a heterosexual, when you’re in uniform on the job, on duty you present yourself PROFESSIONALLY. that applies to homosexuals as well. you make it sound as if removeing the dont ask dont tell policy would cause homos to all of as sudden start playing grab a** in the office. personally i feel that someone should be able to confide their beliefs (physical, sexual, religious) in those which whom they serve with, especially if you’re suppose to be trusting someone with your life. to say that male soldiers would start to wonder “man is he gonna try and come one to me” “should i sleep with one eye open” then the same can be said about women worrying about that. are there males in my unit that view me as less then a soldier cause i’m chick of course, do i fear that some would try to take advantage of me definitely. but i trust that they are professionals, and that the mission at hand is far more important then getting a piece of a**. to caveat that, should a soldier cross the line and abuse, molest, rape, harras a fellow soldier is wrong no matter if its between female to female, male to male, female to male, or male to female. i put trust in my fellow soldiers that they have respect for me and know right from wrong, just as heteros should feel about homos. to me, lifting the dont ask dont tell would only mean someone says “i’m gay” but it doesn’t change their abilities and dedication to serve beside you for their country.

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