Monday, June 18, 2012

From "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" To "Tell Everyone"

Barack Obama has recently told us that he has always been in favor of gay marriage, even though his past formal statements and campaign speeches said exactly the opposite. Pure political claptrap, but the gay marriage debate has a long way to go before it satisfies the majority of Americans. The other side of that coin is the reversal of the military policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

Current events indicate that the former policy of keeping one’s sexual preferences out of one’s military commitments is going to change much more quickly than gay marriage. Just a short time back, our gay military personnel couldn’t tell anyone about the sex of the person they were sleeping with. Overnight they are free to announce it to the world. In many ways too numerous to mention here, that is probably a good thing.

As my favorite old grande dame in San Francisco said: “I don’t care what they do, as long as they don’t do it in the streets and frighten the horses.” As for the military, I don’t care what they do as long as they don’t do it in the barracks and upset military discipline. I say that recognizing there is not yet any proof that gay and lesbian military personnel would do that at a rate any higher than that of heterosexuals. What they do on their own time, off base, is their own business. What they do on base is the business of the particular unit to which they belong. Punishment for the goose is punishment for the gander.

But before anyone says, “I really don’t care about gays in the military” as if that disposes of all the related issues, I want to take a quick look at a couple of things we may be facing if the sexual orientation issue isn’t handled properly and efficiently. In the gay marriage issue, the relationship between the parties has always been regulated by the various states. Even if the Supreme Court rules that gay marriage is a right, it will probably still leave it to the states to determine how they wish to accomplish protection of that right.

But military discipline has always been the prerogative of the federal government. No state has the right to interfere with the conduct of the military during the performance of their duties on federal property. That means that without any intervening “cooling off period,” the federal government has done a 180 degree reversal of two centuries of military tradition. But even that might not be so bad if it weren’t for the gay lobby, political-correctness crowd getting into the act by influencing military decisions at the highest civilian level. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has decided to celebrate Gay Pride Month as if the Pentagon was City Hall in San Francisco.

The seeming injustice of don’t ask, don’t tell (DADT) is not going to be remedied overnight by a sudden embrace of the military’s gay side. DADT went the way of the dodo largely because of its clear discriminatory nature—gays versus straights. The treatment was indeed discriminatory, and based largely on moral beliefs with little legal or constitutional coherence. But Panetta wasn’t satisfied with ending discrimination. Nope. He unintentionally announced his support for rights exclusive to gays and lesbians by saying “at last we will have diversity in the military just as we do in the civilian world.”

“Diversity.” A word which has wreaked a certain amount of havoc in the civilian world. It is a word that stands against the word “unity.” But the civilian world’s needs and requirements are not the same as those of the military. A little chaos in civilian life stirs things up and gets people talking. Chaos in the military is a recipe for disaster. The very uniformity of action and obedience that we would consider stifling in civilian life is what makes a solid military work. Panetta has tipped his hand that a sexual life choice is going to become a great deal more than a simple personal choice having nothing to do with active military service.

As a lawyer and labor relations consultant, I have seen some pretty ridiculous discrimination complaints since the “normalization” of homosexuality. Vexatious litigation was and still is a big part of tying up courts over gay “rights” involving dress codes and public displays of affection, among others. Even what kind of “family” photograph can be placed on an employee’s desk has produced fireworks in Human Resources offices and courtrooms. It’s a major annoyance, but complete discipline and uniformity are rarely major goals of the business world. They are everything in the military.

Another facet of this overnight enthusiastic embrace of all things gay is the noxious parallels the left have made between gay rights and the civil rights movement (largely concerning race). Color of skin is a matter of human genetics. Being gay may be genetic as well, but it’s also a behavior which is related solely to sexual desire while skin color is essentially immutable and has little to do with behavior.

Think of it this way. Long before Brown v. Board of Education, President Harry Truman determined that racial segregation in the military was plainly unconstitutional, and issued an executive order ending it. It met some resistance, but military personnel adapted to it. Military discipline and acceptance of policy solved most of the problems rather quickly. The military became a model for what much of civilian America wasn’t yet ready to accept.

It took a lot of blood, sweat and tears before racial segregation was officially ended in America. The transition wasn’t peaceful, and it took decades to accomplish what Truman accomplished with the stroke of a pen. Of course, the reason it worked is that black, white, yellow, red and brown behavior wasn’t involved in the transition. A black soldier or a white sailor didn’t behave much differently after the executive order than before the order. They just shared barracks for the first time.

If Truman’s Secretary of Defense had decided that the Chief’s executive order meant it was time to announce “celebrate your skin color month” or “ethnic identity month,” he would have been considered nuts and sent packing. The best thing to do was to let the dust settle, work out the kinks, and move on to other improvements in the military. But Panetta has made it clear that being gay and not having to hide it isn’t good enough. You must celebrate your sexuality and expect others to approve.

Maybe I’m being overly pessimistic, but I see trouble coming. And if you think the left and the gay lobby don’t have an anti-military agenda, just consider that they have presented traitor Army Private Bradley Manning as a gay martyr, facing serious military discipline solely because he is a homosexual. Meanwhile Commander-in-Chief Barack Obama has said he will be doing a salute to gay troops. The wry jokes that could go with that announcement are legion. But I'll leave that to you.


AndrewPrice said...

I think this will be a non-issue within a couple years. Yes, there are some very obnoxious gay advocates who want to break down the discipline of the military so they can "express themselves," but I honestly don't see that being allowed. The military still holds a special place legally and politically when it comes to things it can control.

As for celebrating gay pride, I don't think that will matter to the straight soldiers anymore than Black History Month matters to white people. It's just another poster on the wall. And I think the military is too professional to let these things affect unit cohesion.

Unknown said...

Andrew: I'm not as optimistic as you (and I indicated that within the article). Where I will agree with you is that the loony left that is now in charge of the civilian authorities will soon be gone. The military's traditional special place has been temporarily detoured by the Obama administration, but not nearly to the extent that they had originally planned.

We must also remember that the military comprises a very small percentage of the total population, and remains under civilian control. That means that things which affect the population as a whole will have at least a ripple effect in the military. So far, we've been lucky, and tradition has held its ground. But we don't have to go too far back to see what happens when the upper echelons of the military get too cozy with their civilian bosses. Who would have thought a mere four or five years ago that an admiral and a general would prosecute SEALs for doing their job? The only reason for optimism is that the military courts said to the political commanders: "to hell with you" when the SEALs went on trial.

T-Rav said...

There is nothing in the gay marriage debate more annoying to me than when people say, "Well, I'm not gay, so why should it concern me if other people are and want to be open about it?" Okay, actually there are aspects of it more annoying than that, but it's pretty high on the list. As others have pointed out, moves like this have all sorts of legal and financial ramifications. Maybe you'll say that those aren't as important as two people's "right" to be together, which is fine since that involves your own value system, but don't say that because you're not gay, none of this will affect you in any way. It will.

Individualist said...


I don't think people who happen to be gay in the military will cause any problems.

I do think that the Gay Lobby and its corps of tort lawyers will be attempting to dream up lawsuits to find ways to get money. This will be who causes the issues.

The one problem is going to be transgender people. While it may be someone's right to dress as a women because God messed up making them born a woman it is still an issue as to which public restroom they use.

Given the close quarters and the plain weirdness of cross dressing I can't see this causing issues. This will probably become the new cause celeb so that the gay pride lobby can pretend it is relevant to society.

I expect to see a smattering of gender preference hustlers come out in the same vein as Jesse JAckdon and Al Sharpton. It is how liberal make their money after all....sue conservatives who earned it for it.

K said...

Disagree Andrew. I know from experience that there is a percentage of gay men who don't seem to get the concept of platonic relationship. I also wonder if "serving your country" is the only thing that joining the military means to a gay man or woman as it confers some particular sexual advantages as well.

I don't see this effecting things like the submarine service or Air Force much, but if you're a military leader at the small unit level, where troops are living in the field together you just got another job to do - handling sexual harassment issues from both directions.

The purpose of the military is to protect your country against extreme and possibly genocidal levels of violence. It should, therefore, be subject to an absolute minimum of superfluous distractions because when the chips are down. The "want of a nail" could spell disaster for an entire population. So you don't worry about EPA regulations on your tank and fighter aircraft engines and you don't mess with combat morale and capabilities for some short term political gain. (Unless you're a Democrat, of course)

As a secondary comment, I'll be waiting for the first Christian chaplain who is required to resign because he won't do gay marriage. And how many Christian parents - the people who used to provide the core of the military - will be discouraging their straight sons and daughters to join up now?

Unknown said...

T-Rav: I tend to agree. The libertarian view pretty much accepts that other people's behavior doesn't affect me, and in many ways I agree with that as well. But "doing your own thing" in the civilian setting is simply not the same thing as insisting on doing that in the military. I fully realize that those who would want to flaunt the "gay lifestyle" are hardly likely to enlist in the first place. But some will, and will do so after having taken the oath. "Tolerance" in the civilian arena has morphed into "forced acceptance." That is far less likely to happen in the military, but as I said, I see trouble ahead even if, in the long run, military cohesion and discipline ultimately win out.

In some ways, the trouble is already beginning, perhaps as a microcosm of things to come in the non-military world.

Unlike the civilian arena where the gay marriage debate is far from over and government authorities ostensibly have no right to interfere in religious matters, it is different in the military. Though the chaplains are divided up among religions and denominations, nevertheless they are still under the control of their superior officers. Two complaints (informal, so far) have already been lodged with the Pentagon demanding that an army chaplain perform a gay marriage. The civilian president cannot order such a thing in the general public, but what about the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces? We'll see.

Unknown said...

Indi: Truthfully, the gay people I know (and in San Francisco I know plenty) were all over the place on gay marriage, but not one of them was an adamant in-your-face "gay marriage or else" advocate. Just as you indicated about the military, even in the civilian arena, the vast majority of gays are not a problem and don't want to be.

It's the gay activists (most of whom are straight liberals) and leftists who cause the problems. And they can always find a stalking-horse to present as the "victim of oppression and discrimination."

I didn't even address the transgender issue, but I'm glad you did. All of these issues will ultimately be resolved, and I'm guessing that when it's all over, not much will have changed.

But meanwhile, we are still in the middle of a war on terrorism, awaiting massive cuts in defense spending, and dealing with Titanic-size military and black ops security leaks. Maybe this wasn't the best time to be reversing long-standing military policy and celebrating Gay Pride Month. It's not even so much a matter of right and wrong as it is a matter of setting oneself up for unnecessary litigation and disruption at a crucial time in our history. Civilian control of the military is a fine and established American tradition, but using it for political purposes and pandering to a small but important minority is not what the Founders intended.

rlaWTX said...

ya know, i fI wanted to live in France or Sweden, (or San Fransisco), I would. However, I don't, so I wish the stirrer-up-ers would leave well enough alone!

Unknown said...

K: See my comment to T-Rav (above) about military chaplains being required to perform gay marriages. There have been no formal actions or lawsuits thus far, but the reversal of DADT is still quite new, and celebration of Gay Pride Month is even newer.

Unknown said...

rlaWTX: This much I can guarantee you. They will not leave well enough alone, and Panetta's addition of Gay Pride Month to the mix is proof to me that the military is going to go through some temporary hard times before good order is completely restored. As we've all said from time to time, "timing is everything." I happen to consider Panetta's embrace of Gay Pride Month to be really, really bad timing. The left is never satisfied with a victory--they need to take a victory lap, which is what Panetta's Gay Pride Month announcement is all about. And yet it's conservatives and the military who are constantly accused of "triumphalism" whenever a mortal enemy of America and the West is defeated.

Anonymous said...

T-Rav, you bring up a good point. In fact, I have found both as a parent and as a businessperson that if you really want to be left alone, you don't sit around assuming you will be left alone, you have to push the compromise. On this general issue, I really don't care if someone calls whatever he/she does marriage, in fact, I would prefer that the state keep the benefits that get associated with marriage separate from whether or not someone who is part of a private organization has to recognize it for that part. I remember in 1997 when some Wyoming newlyweds, both dog owners, decided to marry their dogs to each other, as now the dogs, and their owners, were part of the same family. Well, I could care less about how that family paid up whomever it was to set up the reception, take the pictures of their adorable pets, and so on, although it's odd they couldn't just figure their pets as step-pets instead. Anyways, you probably see where I am going with this, in my own push, I feel that the ceremony, and the government benefits of inheritance, healthcare directive, and dependents, and possibly the custody battles if a divorce happens, be separate from the religious ceremony. But then again, I can't sit around and hope that this desired compromise will simply happen.

Unknown said...

obiwan: We've kicked the gay marriage issue around many times on this site, and the general consensus seems to be let the state do what the state does and keep religion entirely separate. I think it's a compelling position. But as you say, it can't just be left alone and hope it will happen. If some form of civil marriage is finally divorced from religious ceremony, it will be up to the defenders of the First Amendment that the divide stays that way and that no religious organization is required to perform a marriage ceremony that contradicts church doctrine.

As for the military and gay marriage, that's an entirely different kettle of fish as I mentioned to T-Rav (above).

T-Rav said...

Wow, my comment got quite a bit of feedback. :-)

LawHawk, that's a power I don't think the President should have even as C-in-C of the Armed Forces. Besides the obvious infringement on religious liberty it entails, it raises the issue of how far the authority implied in that title extends. It's understood, for example, that while the generals and admirals answer to the President in that capacity, he doesn't generally go around deciding tactical maneuvers and so on. That's their job. This ought to fall into a similar distinction, but it brings the POTUS' civilian and military capacities into conflict enough he could get away with it. And that's a bad thing.

Unknown said...

T-Rav: I agree with your assessment. I don't think the president has that legitimate power, but that doesn't mean he wouldn't try to exercise it anyway. He's clearly power-mad, and constitutional and legal restraints don't much slow him or his progressive agenda down. It's not what he thinks is right, it's what he thinks he can get away with. And ordering military chaplains around in the name of non-discrimination sounds like something right up his alley.

StanH said...

Boy, that’s a relief, the drapes at the officers club will be perfectly coordinated.

That’s a classic case of the camels nose under the tent. I don’t have anything against a gay person, but damn! I’ve seen consistent polls for decades that range from 1.75% to 4.5% of the population classified as Gay (I’ve seen some recently higher but their hooey), and I’d imagine it’s probably the same for the military. Why potentially inject any poison into something as critical as our military, we may need it. Why take the chance with something as vital as battle cohesiveness. That’s not to say, a soldier in combat gives a flying fornication what way the dude next to you swings - - unless he curls up, and starts singing show tunes, when the bullets fly. “But!” It ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Unknown said...

Stan: I felt pretty much the same way, but times change and the young military personnel don't seem to be as overly concerned as older people. As long as the anti-fraternization rules remain the same for everyone, and military discipline is not interfered with, it's here, they're queer, and we have to get used to it. I won't lose any sleep over it, but I'm also not so sure the transition will be as simple and untroubled as gay advocates would have us believe. "We only want equal treatment" is easily translated into "we expect special treatment." Let's hope I'm wrong.

StanH said...

Great point ...ha.

T-Rav said...

LawHawk, that may not be the best rationale for making military decisions. The Starship Troopers thing, I mean.

Patriot said...

I'll take starship troopers any day as an example of military "permissiveness." But as for unit battlefield tactics......what a bunch of maroons......jumping off the transport and losing all sense of unit cohesiveness. Maybe that's what mixed gender military does to discipline?

I'm waiting for the first promotion being denied "because I'm gay!" I've seen too many incompetent officers being promoted due to non performance related issues. Wait until gender quotas start coming into play.

While we have always had "gays" in the force, the fact they had to keep quiet about it or risk ruining the team if they insisted on being blatant about it kept teams together. Since it's only been 10 months since dadt was repealed, we haven't yet seen the impact within the military. Isolated incidents, yet no big incidents so far. Wait for it.............

Unknown said...

Stan: Why, thank you very much.

Unknown said...

T-Rav: Heinlein would certainly have run a better military than Obama and Panetta.

Unknown said...

Patriot: I was waiting to see who would be the first to come up with what I think will be the first big gay discrimination complaint. You win.

Under DADT, that could never have become an issue because simply raising the claim would have been an admission which would have excluded the complainant from further service. Now the barn door is open for that kind of complaints.

Gender quotas and complaints have already been instituted, and have had a deleterious affect. There was a mass exodus from the Air Force and Naval Air fighter ranks a few years back when quotas for female fighter pilots were instituted. Congresswoman Pat Schroeder made it her major mission to require that the military deny there were any differences between men and women. She was so obnoxious (and dangerous) that the TV series JAG did several episodes with a recurring character loosely based on Schroeder.

What we are now facing is gender identity quotas and denials of promotion, which will be even harder to deal with.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

The military poll taken that shows a slight majority of those in the military having no problem with serving beside open gays doesn't reflect that the vast majority of combat and shipboard troops and sailors do have a problem with it.

If the left was being "honest" about their convictions here then coed everything (ala Starship Troopers) would indeed be the way to go. would be detrimental to unit cohesion (just ask most the women that serve if they wanna undress, shower and sleep in close proximity with their heterosexual male shipmates).

I think most gays will continue to not make waves (pardon the pun) and serve honorably, but there will be some major problems on the horizon because there will be some that will use this for personal and political uses to get special rights (and some who will use it for more nefarious purposes).

Sadly, there are more officers that are steeped in pc than there used to be and I have no doubt that there will be preferential treatment and special rights given to the gays the rabble rowsing gays in most cases.

And, of course this leaves the door wide open for the transgendered/transvestite/crossdressing/whatever activists to mess things up even more to promote their behaviors.

There is no evidence that anyone is born gay, although that could be a possibility.
If there ever is evidence of such I would bet that it's a far smaller percentage than the percentage of gays.
Regardless, as you say, this is behavior we are talking about.

Unfortunately, I expect the militant activists will keep pushing on this and it will cause all sorts of problems.
One of the biggest problems it will cause is a reduction in enlistments, particularly as these cases get publicized, and this may possibly bring back the draft.

I wish I could say the military would sort this out.
If it was up to the military they probably would, but the left will continue to play politics and stupid games with the military all in the name of "diversity" which will not be good for morale, unit cohesiveness or military discipline.

It's also something most gays who serve wanna see happen.

A secondary reason the left loves to screw with the military is that they want the military to be less conservative.
What they don't realize is that there's several reasons why most that serve are conservative.

If they make the military a hostile environment for conservatives they will have to bring back the draft, because the vast majority of leftists (gay or not) simply won't serve voluntarily.

In effect, if they get their way, the left will also screw themselves.
Too bad they will also hurt military readiness and conservatives in the process to obtain their golden diversity goose. Or gander. Or whatever.

There's very good reasons why it's an idiotic idea to have these social (sociopathic, really) experiments in the military.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Also, good post, LawHawk!

Let's hope that President Romney replaces Panetta posthaste! after he becomes President.

One of the worst SecDef's I ever seen or read about.

Unknown said...

Ben: I have to say that I share a whole lot of your worries about what's to come for the military and gay rights. I also suspect you have a better insight into military opinions than I do. I do think that younger people are a little more open to this sort of thing than my generation, but we haven't seen yet how it works in the much smaller crucible of the military. As I've said, I see storm clouds on the horizon.

As rlaWTX said, they just couldn't leave it alone. They did a complete reversal of American military tradition, which might or might not be a good thing. But then they had to haul out the "celebrate diversity" crap to rub our noses in it.

The gay lobby and the anti-military left will be working overtime. As I pointed out at the tail end of the article, they have tried to make Bradley Manning into a gay martyr, and that started before the end of DADT really got going.

Unknown said...

Ben: I meant to mention that the tolerance of gays among the younger military men and women may be a lot more apparent than real. Young people tend to want to say what's expected of them and what their friends and comrades are saying in order not to rock the boat. Also, young military personnel in the starting ranks are not likely to defy military policy, no matter how new and odd. I suspect there's a bit of the same feeling that causes otherwise intelligent people to say they like Obama. The fear of being thought racist and politically-incorrect. I'm sure there's some of that same dynamic going with young military people saying that openly gay soldiers and sailors are of no concern to them. They don't want to be thought of as being that other leftist target--"homophobes."

Unknown said...

Panetta should have been kept in charge of freeway overpasses and tire inflation. He's way over his head at DOD. I saw this kind of wonkish, amateurish civilian interference with the military once before. It was under brain truster Robert McNamara during the Vietnam War, and I don't want to think how many good men we lost because of his tinkering and experimentation. Our all-volunteer army today is as good as or better than the old military, but at the same time we seem to have developed a whole lot of lily-livered political generals and admirals who kowtow to the political civilian authority rather than advising it and speaking painful truths. We've seen what happens to those rare high-ranking officers who dare to have a different opinion from the administration. Persecution of honorable SEALs came straight from the political left civilian authority and was quickly enabled by weak-spined generals and admirals. Thank God the military tribunals are willing to thumb their noses at both the political fools in the White House, and the political officers in the Pentagon.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

I concur, LawHawk.
I don't believe most of the men and women serving are homophobes, however, flaming, militant activist gays will not be welcomed with open arms.

And the transgendered...when, not if that happens will be an unwelcome distraction at best.

Perhaps the idea of an all female or male or gay units and ships would be better than mixing them all up and expecting the same efficiency and professionalism we have now.
I say that only half joking.

The thing is, very few (even on the left) question that women would be uncomfortable (at best) with men being around while naked or half naked, so why should it be different for men (or women) being around the openly gay?

Why the double standard?

I don't think it's homophobic to discuss these issues (I know you don't either, just sayin').
Because it does effect enlistment/retention and morale.
Especially when all the unintended consequences occur.

Those in the military have a tough enough job without having to deal with these problems.
I hope I'm wrong and this is much ado about nothing, but when the left is involved with their incessant need to constantly tamper and fix non-existant "problems" there will most certainly be manufactured (and unnecessary) problems and consequences.

Unknown said...

Ben: I concur. And the segregation of the sexes is a near-future no go. As the Supreme Court idiotically said in Brown v. Board of Educaton, "separate is inherently unequal." Instead of simply declaring racial segregation clearly unconstitutional, they had to philosophize, and we've been paying the price ever since at the cost of plain common sense.

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