Twenty years ago, the military were strong advocates of 'don't ask-don't tell,' when I was secretary of defense. I think things have changed significantly since then.This is, of course, a somewhat controversial issue here in the United States.
I remember getting to ask the late Manfred Wörner, then German Federal Minister of Defense,♠ 1 v 1, when Germany would enlist women in their military. He told me that they could not do it now since they were in a manpower crunch and it would send the wrong message to German women—that it was all about the manpower and not about equality for them. These thing can be complicated.
The 15 February issue of The Army Times has a poll out that shows that military members don't favor this move. I discount that polling, on the advice of a professional journalist, with enlisted time as a Marine and in the Army National Guard. This person pointed out that this is mostly a survey of "Lifers", the people who will be in the Service for 20 to 30 years. It does not necessarily represent the views of younger enlisted personnel (and perhaps younger officers).
From things I have seen in EMails exchanged, the folks a generation younger than me are much more favorably disposed to homosexuals serving in the military. But, even near contemporaries of mine had long ago adopted Greg Page's reformulation of DADT as Don't Ask, Don't Care. A Chief Master Sergeant friend of mine told me he had a homosexual in a big squadron he was First Sergeant for and it didn't both him at all, since the person performed. I suspect it is that way in Iraq and Afghanistan, especially in the "low density Military Occupation Specialties", the skills where there are only one or two people around and their contribution is important. Down at the squad level it is probably just a case of being dependable. Down amongst the privates there is a special bonding, especially in combat, and an attitude of "he may be Xxxx, but he is our Xxxx".
And polls are a strange animal. Wording makes a difference. In this post I have been saying homosexual, rather than gay and lesbian, or gay, lesbian and transsexual, or .... This may, one way or the other, set someone's teeth on edge. A CBS News / New York Times article says the results depend, to some degree, on how you ask the question:
The poll finds 59% of Americans say they now support allowing "homosexuals" to serve in the U.S. military. But when the question is changed to whether Americans support "gay men and lesbians" serving in the military, 70% of Americans say they support that.But, polls are not how we decide things in the US. It is by politics and voting.
There's a further difference when the question specifies that they "openly" serve. In this case, just 44% favor allowing "homosexuals" to openly serve in the military while 58% favor allowing "gay men and lesbians" to serve openly.
How this will come out of the US Congress is yet to be determined. Back to the article in The Army Times:
Congressional aides involved in the debate, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they believe there is little chance of Congress agreeing this year to repeal the law banning gays, which holds that the mere presence of gays in the military creates “an unacceptable risk to the high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion that are the essence of military capability.”On 1 February, Reporter Rowan Scarborough, writing in The Washington Times noted:
The most likely outcome, aides predicted, will be some process to collect data — perhaps creating an independent commission or launching studies — that would put off any decision until after the November congressional elections and perhaps delay a final vote on repeal until after the 2012 presidential elections.
The president's proposal needs 218 votes in the House. A bill to repeal the policy known as "don't ask, don't tell" has fewer than 190 co-sponsors.And, there are issues to be ironed out.
For example, if James and John are married in Massachusetts, do they get married quarters in Texas? Is this then a de facto Federal recognition of "Gay Marriage"? With so many states having laws against homosexuals marrying, this could be an issue on the floor vote of the House or Representatives, or US Senate, especially in an election year.
On the flip side, claiming to be a homosexual, like being in Afghanistan and saying one is pregnant, is a "Get Out of Jail Free" card. In its own way it may reduce suicides and self-inflicted wounds and other unfortunate incidents. Do I have numbers? Just suspicions.
If you want my opinion on DADT, I say drop it. Let James and John have married quarters, but put language in the bill that buffers it from the larger debate in society, otherwise this becomes a whole other issue. If you want my personal opinion on Homosexual relationships, we can meet up some place and you can tell me what you think and I will tell you what I think, but in my mind it is not relevant to the question of DADT. For the sake of the Services and for the sake of fit patriotic Americans of all stripes, we should repeal DADT and associated articles in the UCMJ.♥
Regards — Cliff
♠ Fellow fighter pilots. He had flown the Fiat G-91 in the Luftwaffe.
♥ Uniform Code of Military Justice.