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Gay groups fight "Don't ask Don't tell"

 
 
Baldimo
 
Reply Fri 22 Sep, 2006 12:15 am
Three young men who tried to enlist at a U.S. Army recruiting station here appeared to be first-rate military material.

Two were college students, and the other was a college graduate. They had no criminal records. They were physically fit and eager to serve at a time when wars on two fronts have put a strain on U.S. troops and the need for qualified recruits is great.

But the recruiter was forced to turn them away, for one reason: They are gay and unwilling to conceal it.

"Don't judge me because of my sexuality," said one of the three, Justin Hager, 20, a self-described Republican from a military family who has "a driving desire to join" the armed forces. "Judge me because of my character and drive."

As the Pentagon's search for recruits grows more urgent, gay rights groups are making the biggest push in nearly a decade to win repeal of a compromise policy, encoded in a 1993 law and dubbed "don't ask, don't tell," that bars openly gay people from serving in the military. The policy, grounded in a belief that open homosexuality is damaging to unit morale and cohesion, stipulates that gay men and lesbians must serve in silence and refrain from homosexual activity, and that recruiters and commanders may not ask them about their sexual orientation in the absence of compelling evidence that homosexual acts have occurred.

The push for repeal follows years of legal setbacks, as well as discord among gay rights groups about how, or even whether, to address the issue. Now, rather than rely on the courts, advocates are focusing on drumming up support in towns across the country, spotlighting the personal stories of gay former service members and pushing a Democratic bill in the House that would do away with the policy.

In August the gay rights group Soulforce opened a national campaign by recruiting openly gay people, like the three young men in Madison, who would have enlisted in the military if not for "don't ask, don't tell."

As part of that campaign, two young people who were rejected as applicants on Tuesday at a recruitment center in Chicago returned there on Wednesday and engaged in a sit-in. They were arrested but later released without charges.

The move to change the policy faces stiff resistance from the Pentagon and Republicans in Congress, who, in a time of war during a tough election year, have no longing for another contentious debate about gay troops. The House bill, introduced last year by Representative Martin Meehan, a Massachusetts Democrat, has picked up 119 supporters, but only five of them Republicans.

"In the near term, it has zero chance," said Daniel Goure, a vice president at the centrist Lexington Institute. "It's hard to see how anyone would want to give potential opponents any ammunition to knock them off."

A 2004 report by the Urban Institute concluded that at least 60,000 gay people were serving in the armed forces, including the Reserves and the National Guard. But since 1993, at least 11,000 members have been discharged for being openly gay, among them 800 in highly crucial jobs, according to the Government Accountability Office, Congress' investigative arm.

For all of that, gay rights groups, gay veterans and some analysts say much has changed since the policy was adopted. A Gallup poll in 2004 found that 63 percent of respondents favored allowing gay troops to serve openly; a similar one, by the Pew Research Center this year, put the number at 60 percent; those majorities did not exist in 1993. Young people in particular now have more tolerant views about homosexuality.

In addition, 24 foreign armies, most notably those of Britain and Israel, have integrated openly gay people into their ranks with little impact on effectiveness and recruitment. In Britain, where the military was initially forced to accept gay troops by the European Court of Human Rights, gay partners are now afforded full benefits, and the Royal Navy has called on a gay rights group to help recruit gay sailors.

The new debate on "don't ask, don't tell" also coincides with multiple deployments that are being required of many U.S. troops by a military that has lowered its standards to allow more high school dropouts and some convicted criminals to enlist.

Lieutenant General Daniel Christman, retired, former superintendent at West Point and onetime assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said both the British experience and the shifts in attitudes at home would cause the U.S. armed forces to change, though slowly.

"It is clear that national attitudes toward this issue have evolved considerably in the last decade," said Christman, now a senior vice president at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. "This has been led by a new generation of service members who take a more relaxed and tolerant view toward homosexuality. This does not mean that we will move to a British-like policy of 'don't ask, don't misbehave' any time soon. But I think it is inevitable that the policy will eventually change along the lines of what the British military presently practices."

On the other side of the divide, Elaine Donnelly, president of the conservative Center for Military Readiness, said permitting gay men and lesbians to serve openly would prompt recruitment rates to drop and disrupt unit cohesion, a linchpin in the decision to allow gay troops to serve only in silence.

"People in the military live in conditions of little or no privacy," said Donnelly, who advocates a full ban on gay troops. "In conditions of forced intimacy, people should not have to expose themselves to other persons who are sexually attracted to them."
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So has the time come for this to be changed? I know many of you on the left are going to say yes it is changed.

I have this to say. Is it more important to serve your country and be a soldier or be gay? What many of the people who want to join and are gay seem to think is that it is more important to be gay then be a soldier. They can join now, they just have to do so in the closet and not be open. I now serve with 2 women that I know are gay but they don't act gay in the least. While they look like bull dykes they keep it under cover where it should be. No ass grabbing in public and they are good at their jobs. It works for them and it works for those around them even though just about everyone knows. They see it is more important to be soldiers then it is to be gay. If that can be done by them then it can be done by others. Go ahead and serve, just keep your private lives private.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 0 • Views: 1,524 • Replies: 11
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Fri 22 Sep, 2006 07:00 am
Re: Gay groups fight "Don't ask Don't tell"
Baldimo wrote:
It works for them and it works for those around them even though just about everyone knows.


That sounds like basically the "don't ask, don't tell" law HAS been repealed in an informal, de facto way. Just about everyone knows, and it shouldn't be hard to find evidence that they fail to "refrain from homosexual activity" -- yet nobody has. They remain in the military, doing their jobs well, even though just about everyone knows.

Why not take the last step to make the informal, rule-flounting practice (does anyone think they entirely refrain from homosexual activity, at all, even in private?) match with official policy?
0 Replies
 
jpinMilwaukee
 
  1  
Reply Fri 22 Sep, 2006 07:49 am
My Father in Law told me a story once about an openly gay man that he served with in the navy. At a bar one night, there was a really good looking couple sitting at the bar having a few drinks. The gay sailor leaned over to my Father in law and said "Hey, why don't we see if we can take that couple home tonight. You can take the girl and I'll take him."

Everyone knew he was gay. He didn't try hiding it. Nobody really cared.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Fri 22 Sep, 2006 10:20 am
My experience in the Army was the same--we had boys that were gay (in the early 70s, they were usually still referred to as "homos," because the word "gay" had not yet been formally coopted). We knew, they knew we knew, the officers usually seemed not to know it (they didn't seem to know much about their men, although they paid a lot of lip service to the claim that they were devoted to our welfare--here, pull the other one). It was never a problem.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Fri 22 Sep, 2006 11:20 am
Re: Gay groups fight "Don't ask Don't tell"
Quote:
"People in the military live in conditions of little or no privacy," said Donnelly, who advocates a full ban on gay troops. "In conditions of forced intimacy, people should not have to expose themselves to other persons who are sexually attracted to them."

Well, then, the solution is clear: the armed forces doesn't have to ban gays, they just need to recruit more unattractive heterosexuals.

Baldimo wrote:
I have this to say. Is it more important to serve your country and be a soldier or be gay?

Why can't it be both?

Baldimo wrote:
I now serve with 2 women that I know are gay but they don't act gay in the least. While they look like bull dykes they keep it under cover where it should be.

And are you likewise a closeted heterosexual?

Baldimo wrote:
Go ahead and serve, just keep your private lives private.

No doubt most homosexual servicemen and women would like nothing better than to keep their private lives private. But they are the only ones who, if their private lives become public, face being cashiered from the military.
0 Replies
 
Baldimo
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 Sep, 2006 12:44 am
Re: Gay groups fight "Don't ask Don't tell"
joefromchicago wrote:
Quote:
"People in the military live in conditions of little or no privacy," said Donnelly, who advocates a full ban on gay troops. "In conditions of forced intimacy, people should not have to expose themselves to other persons who are sexually attracted to them."

Well, then, the solution is clear: the armed forces doesn't have to ban gays, they just need to recruit more unattractive heterosexuals.

Baldimo wrote:
I have this to say. Is it more important to serve your country and be a soldier or be gay?

Why can't it be both?

Baldimo wrote:
I now serve with 2 women that I know are gay but they don't act gay in the least. While they look like bull dykes they keep it under cover where it should be.

And are you likewise a closeted heterosexual?

Baldimo wrote:
Go ahead and serve, just keep your private lives private.


One thing I see about the 2 women that I serve with is they don't want to be seen as "gay soldiers". From the news article that I posted it seems that these people that wanted to join were doing so just because they were gay and it was important that they were seen as gay. I don't agree with this. It isn't important that I'm seen as a straight soldier. My sexuality isn't something I wear on a sign around my neck. For most gays, it isn't. Those that are out of the closet want people to know they are gay and that seems to be the most important thing to them. In the military you can't have that.

If its more important to be a soldier then your personal sexuality shouldn't matter to you. Join and don't say anything. If you want to say something then you already know what will happen.

Quote:
No doubt most homosexual servicemen and women would like nothing better than to keep their private lives private. But they are the only ones who, if their private lives become public, face being cashiered from the military.


That is not true. If you are caught cheating on your spouse then you will also get in trouble and can even get kicked out of the military for it. The General that was in charge of all training was caught cheating on his wife and he was booted from the military. So it isn't just gay people who get caught. If you live a life that the military has a rule against and you are caught then you are gone.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 Sep, 2006 08:43 am
Re: Gay groups fight "Don't ask Don't tell"
Baldimo wrote:
One thing I see about the 2 women that I serve with is they don't want to be seen as "gay soldiers".

Of course they don't. They'd be discharged if they were.

Baldimo wrote:
From the news article that I posted it seems that these people that wanted to join were doing so just because they were gay and it was important that they were seen as gay. I don't agree with this. It isn't important that I'm seen as a straight soldier. My sexuality isn't something I wear on a sign around my neck. For most gays, it isn't. Those that are out of the closet want people to know they are gay and that seems to be the most important thing to them. In the military you can't have that.

I'm sure that the people who are attempting to join the armed forces are "flaunting" their gayness as a means of protesting the current exclusionary policy of the armed forces. If there were no exclusion, there would be no need for them to emphasize their sexual orientation.

Baldimo wrote:
If its more important to be a soldier then your personal sexuality shouldn't matter to you. Join and don't say anything. If you want to say something then you already know what will happen.

Yeah, you'll be discharged for your sexual orientation, something that a heterosexual soldier need not worry about.

Baldimo wrote:
Quote:
No doubt most homosexual servicemen and women would like nothing better than to keep their private lives private. But they are the only ones who, if their private lives become public, face being cashiered from the military.


That is not true. If you are caught cheating on your spouse then you will also get in trouble and can even get kicked out of the military for it. The General that was in charge of all training was caught cheating on his wife and he was booted from the military. So it isn't just gay people who get caught. If you live a life that the military has a rule against and you are caught then you are gone.

The rules regarding personal behavior can and should be applied uniformly to all members of the armed forces. If fraternization between men and women is prohibited, then fraternization between men and men and between women and women should be prohibited on the same basis. Currently, however, the regulations are not applied uniformly: only those service members who engage in homosexual sex, with anyone, are automatically discharged from the armed forces (unless they can fall under the "queen for a day" exception).
0 Replies
 
Finn dAbuzz
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Oct, 2006 08:51 pm
There are heterosexual men and women who go beyond the rules of conduct who are disciplined as a result. They are not disciplined because they acknowledge they are heterosexual.

Unless one believes that all gay men and women are incapable of restraining themselves when they are in the presence of someone they find attractive I'm not sure where the problem lies, and frankly if this were true, there wouldn't be any gay men and women in the military after very long.

If a gay man is constantly leering at and making sexual suggestive comments to heterosexual soldiers in the barrack showers, he should get his clocked cleaned by one of the heterosexual soliders or reported in the same way a heterosexual male soldier might (or at least should) get reported for such behavior with heterosexual women soldiers.

The fact that a heterosexual soldiers knows a fellow soldier might be enjoying seeing his naked ass is not much of a hardship, and hardly measures up well against the fact that the same guy is just as willing to sacrifice his or her life for America, as he is.
0 Replies
 
littlek
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Oct, 2006 09:04 pm
Well, I can agree with Finn on that point.
0 Replies
 
Finn dAbuzz
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Oct, 2006 10:05 pm
littlek wrote:
Well, I can agree with Finn on that point.


See, there's hope for you. Now just push on through to the other side.
0 Replies
 
littlek
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Oct, 2006 06:01 pm
Let's just be happy with the one topic in common!
0 Replies
 
Finn dAbuzz
 
  1  
Reply Fri 13 Oct, 2006 09:10 pm
littlek wrote:
Let's just be happy with the one topic in common!


"Some men see things as they are and say why - I dream things that never were and say why not."

George Bernard Shaw - (not Bobby Kennedy)
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