Sunday, February 1, 2009

Obama Will Order Military to Study Whether It Should Stop Discriminating Against Gays and Lesbians

During his campaign, Obama promised to end the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy which discriminates against openly gay or lesbian individuals. He has also implied several times that this decision would not come quickly, and that it would happen only after military personnel studied the issue. Today, the Boston Globe confirms this path as the likely course of action.

Apparently, in a few more months, Obama will formally instruct the military to study the implications on military discipline of having openly gay and lesbian members in the armed forces. Historically, the military has raised "discipline" (and morale) issues in order to justify the exclusion of gays and lesbians, racial minorities and women.

I imagine that the order to study the subject is really just a way to read the pulse of the military community, slow down the move to reverse the policy, think of a potential compromise, and to market the idea of lifting the ban to the public. Obama does not want the subject to explode as it did with Bill Clinton, and that is a good strategy. But this does not inspire confidence that much, if anything, will happen on the subject in the near future.

Related Readings on Dissenting Justice:

Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Hold Your Breath

Stonewalling on Don't Ask, Don't Tell? No Action Until 2010

Robert Gates as Obama's Secretary of Defense: "More of the Same" for Gay Rights


lida82 said...

I'm retired after 20 years in the Navy. There were many people who knew I was gay because I told them so. Most military people couldn't give a Rats *ss if you're gay. All they want to know is - did the job get done.

The people who care about whether there are gays in the military are the small portion of people who hate everybody. And even though most military people could care about gays in the military, there are a lot of people sensitive to how others perceive them and will not come out against the vocal minority because they don't want to be accused of being gay themselves.

It's crazy how public craziness drives policy.

I must say that if they did allow gays and lesbians in the military there wouldn't be a lot of people who would suddenly come out. Just a lot of people breathing a sigh of relief that they can serve their country without being hounded out of the military for being different in who they love.

You'd be surprised at how many gays and lesbians are in the military. From my own experiences, I'm betting there are more than ten percent gay and lesbians in and if they did get rid of all of them the services would take a tremendous hit in terms of manpower and experience.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Hi, Lida. Thanks for your post and for adding perspective. You confirm what my research on the issue says: the troops can handle the issue, but the control group does not want to change. By entrusting leaders with the issue, however, Obama has set up a potential fight.

Anonymous said...

It is not a "policy", military or otherwise, it is a LAW. A law passed by a Democratic Congress and signed by a Democratic President.

Is it a good idea? I don't think so, but because I don't like it does not keep it from being a law.

Jason Papanikolas said...

"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is law (Public Law 103-160). As such, it's going to take more than an Obama executive order to overturn. My experience with military personnel has been vastly different from Lida's: most of them believe that "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is a good idea and that it will greatly affect military morale and, hence, readiness.

That said, I still think that it should be overturned. Gays serve openly in the Israeli military with little to no effect on military morale, readiness, or efficiency. As a conservative Republican, I believe that our Party is on the wrong side of this issue.

If compromise is what is necessary, then might I suggest something similar to the prohibition on women in combat roles (an equally stupid prohibition, but I guess it has it's uses). Somewhere around 80-90% of the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines who serve our country already serve in non-combat support roles.

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