End 'Don't Ask Don't Tell'

It appears that Congress and the White House are close to a compromise that will end the "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" (DADT) policy that forbids openly gay men and women from serving in the U.S. armed forces. The compromise will allow the Pentagon to complete its study of the issue, but will remove the current legal prohibition on changing the policy, and draw up implementation procedures. The reported compromise also will give the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs a final veto over the revised admissions policy.

The original DADT policy was adopted in the first year of the Clinton administration. During his election campaign, Bill Clinton had promised to permit gays and lesbians to serve in the military but he was unprepared for the political backlash, both within the military and on Capitol Hill, to his proposal. After protracted negotiations, the DADT policy was adopted with the blessing of Clinton, the Pentagon and Cong. Barney Frank, one of the only openly gay members of Congress. Cong. Frank, who is also one of the funniest members of Congress, admitted that the 1993 compromise was less than he wished, but that it nonetheless was an advance over the previous blanket prohibition.

Advertisement

I am sure Cong. Frank is right, and that the half-loaf in the early 90s has made it easier to procure the full loaf now, but still, the policy always seemed very stupid. For example, conservative critics of any policy that would allow gays to serve openly always cite their concern for "unit cohesion." But, one of the bases of unit cohesion is a sense of equality among the troops and deference to their commanding officer. If one soldier knows that another is gay, or that his or her commanding officer is gay, it is not difficult to see how they could use that knowledge to intimidate and blackmail the gay serviceperson, and the nasty effect such intrigues would have on unit cohesion. As well, from a security perspective, it is not difficult to see how anyone seeking to recruit spies among U.S. military personnel would think that they could successfully start with gay members of the military. (N.B. The reason gays could be targets is because DADT forces them to hide something that could be exploited by others. The problem I see here is with DADT, not with being gay.)

It is also the case that the military, still engaged in two wars, can scarcely afford to lose talented soldiers and that those currently engaged in investigating and prosecuting offenses against DADT could be better used.

More importantly, inviting someone to lie about something so basic to their personality is a recipe for the most profound threat to unit cohesion. The military is built on trust and integrity. You need to know that you can trust your comrades to do their duty just as you train yourself to do yours. It is an obvious threat to that trust that some percentage of our men and women in uniform are told now: Au contraire! You must lie!

DADT was a necessary compromise that has outlived its usefulness. The objections to its removal are the same that were heard when President Truman racially integrated the military. Young people, and most of the soldiers who serve on the front lines are young, are the least likely to harbor anti-gay bigotry. It is time to end DADT: Let’s hope the Congress realizes it.

 Michael Sean Winters


Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
8 years ago
Every child that has been adopted by a gay couple is a child that has been deprived of one or both of its parents. All of these children are intentionally deprived of living in a household with male-female parents, thereby leaving the children with no role model for healthy, long-term male-female relationships, and setting them up for failure in their future heterosexual relationships, perhaps even setting them up for entering homosexual relationships.

All of the money wasted on glorifying homosexual relationships and validating homosexual acts could be diverted to research on preventing future children from being born with this disorder and helping those who have the disorder to try and live normal lives.

Why should we encourage a society where where depriving children of their parents for the selfish desires of individuals is the rule. Why do we not try to cure this disorder as we do for all other disorders?

Repealing DADT is just another item on the homosexual agenda checklist that forces normal individuals and institutions to change their lives to accomodate a group of a individuals who refuse to embrace their disorder rather than reject it and try to find a cure for it and for future generations.
8 years ago
''You need to know that you can trust your comrades to do their duty just as you train yourself to do yours''
 
If it would make the military more effective then most would be for it.  Somehow I do not believe this is a policy meant to make our military stronger.  Certainly most gay men are quite capable of doing the same duties as straight men and these capabilities are always in demand.  But this so called coming out of the closet does not seem to have any purpose other than to push ones thumb into the eye of one's political opponent for the sole purpose of winning a political victory.  
 
The military sleeps and lives in very close environments.  One of the concerns of a cohesive military force is that some members will prefer other members in your group and apply this favoritism during ordinary day to day events but especially in a life threatening situation.  If you knew that two of your team members were romantically involved this would not add to the confidence that they would make the right decisions when someone is probably going to die.  One can wish that sentiment away but it will always be there.  So the current policy is to reduce it as much as possible or eliminate it if it is possible  
 
Like it or not there is a fear in straight men of homosexual men, not a physical fear but that they will be hit upon by them. And they lash back at gays because of this.  There is enough dysfunctional behavior when you have people on top of each other and the best solution is to impart as much cohesion as possible.  The military is not the best place for social experiments and that is what this is.  There are plenty of places in the society and the military where gay men could serve but in the military it would be prudent to restrict them from combat situations or the close living conditions of others.
Beth Cioffoletti
8 years ago
"Young people, and most of the soldiers who serve on the front lines are young, are the least likely to harbor anti-gay bigotry."
 
I find this to be true as well.  Most of the people who are under 35 years old in this country do not harbor homophobic sentiments.  They do not fear homosexuals, or fear being "hit upon" by them. 
But the comments that come up in this blog make me suspect that deep seated hatred and fear of homosexuals is still alive and well, perhaps particularly in so-called religious circles.  Like racism and sexism, this is one long struggle.
Brendan McGrath
8 years ago
Holy Mother Church teaches that unjust discrimination against homosexual persons should be avoided (for a while now I've been having fun using the term "Holy Mother Church" when talking about the Church's more "liberal" teachings) - I would argue that this is a case where the discrimination is unjust and unwarranted.
 
There's something else that's on my mind though, sort of an idea/theory/question that I don't really believe, but that I think might be onto something, so I'll share it.  To what extent, if any, is military power, cohesion, drive, morale, camaraderie, etc. actually dependent on or fueled by homophobia and misogyny?  (Though this is just one little example, I'm reminded of the photo from shortly after 9/11 of a missile on which a soldier had written, "Hijack this, fags," though misspelling "hijack" as "high jack.")  To what extent is it like a male locker room?  If we sanitized it, would it no longer be as powerful?  (I'm also reminded of some odd story about how the U.S. military was working on what was popularly dubbed a "gay bomb" that would disperse some chemicals that would cause the enemy to experience homosexual attractions, thus undermining their cohesion, etc.) 
 
Again, this is just a theory, some intuition that I hope isn't true - perhaps it's part of the story, but not the whole story. 
Brendan McGrath
8 years ago
Beth - About your agreement with the statement, "Young people, and most of the soldiers who serve on the front lines are young, are the least likely to harbor anti-gay bigotry." - True.  But just to explore a bit deeper: in the case of young males of my generation (twenties) and younger (teens) I wonder if what we're seeing is more that young males are OK with gay males, as long as they aren't straight.  In other words, maybe as long as males who deviate from the "norm" in some way can be put in a separate category and labeled as "homosexual," "gay," etc., their deviations can be tolerated.  I.e., could it be that for many young males, it's OK for a guy to be "effeminate," as long as he is labeled as gay, turned into an "other" who isn't really "male" and thus whose "femininity" is no more offensive than a girl's femininity is?  To what extent is "gayness" only tolerated as long as it keeps its distance and doesn't threaten masculinity?  Even among young males, can a gay male be seen as "one of the guys," a "real man," or is he inevitably related to as an "other," as a male relates to a female?  I'm sort of thinking out loud here - I'm often intrigued by things like this which we don't always think about.
 
How would various men in the military react if gay men in the military started to make the military seem "gay"?
Beth Cioffoletti
8 years ago
Interesting thoughts, Brendan.
Bringing up Rene Girard again, and that new book, Battling to the End, Girard says that "Christianity will be victorious, but only in defeat".  If we don't organize our world along rigid lines of scapegoating (which is what homophobia is), we will have more and more disorder.  The modern world uses violence to keep the so-called peace. Well, this is all coming to a head.
These do seem to be apocalypic times.
 
A fascinating interview with Girard is here:
http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/2009/07/christianity-will-be-victorious-but-only-in-defeat
William Lindsey
8 years ago
Michael Brooks, you say, "All of the money wasted on glorifying homosexual relationships and validating homosexual acts could be diverted to research . . . ."
 
And I respond:
 
All of the hate wasted by people of faith on hating and demeaning those who are gay and lesbian could be diverted to love.
 
And both the church and world would be far better off if love prevailed instead of hate. 
 
Hate is a tragic waste of the energy we are given to love, instead.
Beth Cioffoletti
8 years ago
Well, military might and proving one's masculinity, certainly seem to go together.
My question is, why is it assumed that gay men are effeminate (defined as weak, or frail, or less likely to tangle)?  Cannot a gay man be just as honorable and courageous as anyone else?  Men and women can work well in combat, why not gay men and straight men?  Is it true that only straight men can be "real men"?  And what is a "real man" anyway?
8 years ago
William -

What could be more loving than to do all that we can to make sure that children have a loving mother and father; than to try to assure that all children born will enter into relationships where they can procreate and have their own children; than to try to cure a condition that causes men and women to form non-procreating relationships and renders them abnormal in a species that can only survive with male-female unions?

This is not about hatred for homosexuals; this is about the threat that the promotion of homosexuality poses to our society. We can cure this disorder; we should cure this disorder for our children and for future generations.
8 years ago
I'm not opposed to repealing the DADT policy, provided the military itself freely signs on without political pressure from liberal elements.
 
What does bother me is that the rights-centric, "me"-centered ethos of modern liberalism and the gay rights movements is deeply inimical to the corps-first military mentality.  As it is with Roman Catholicism as well.
William Lindsey
8 years ago
Michael, why are you seeking to change the subject?
 
This posting is about repealing policy that discriminates against gay and lesbian people serving in the military.
 
You insist on talking about adoption by couples, instead.
 
Energy wasted on hate is energy wasted, in my view. 
 
The world - and our church - would be far better off if we used our energy to love.
 
Not to hate.
Michael Liddy
8 years ago
"As well, from a security perspective, it is not difficult to see how anyone seeking to recruit spies among U.S. military personnel would think that they could successfully start with gay members of the military."

Am I the only person that laughed when they read that?

DADT is not fair to people and it should be eliminated.
William Lindsey
8 years ago
Sorry for the mistake in my third sentence, previous posting.  It should read,
 
You insist on talking about adoption by same-sex couples,
Bill Collier
8 years ago
Some predicted-overwhelmingly incorrectly, as it turned out-that the admission of women to the U.S. military academies would undermine our military command and readiness. In addition, the long-standing ban on women military personnel serving in the close confines of the submarine service was recently lifted, undercutting another knee-jerk conclusion that gender differences can't be fully integrated into the military structure. The U.S. military will also no doubt survive and function well without DADT. If need be, specific problems can be dealt with on an ad hoc basis without the need for an over-reaching policy that discriminates broadly
8 years ago
William -
I speak about adoption because the intentional separation of children from their parents is a direct result of the promotion of homosexuality and homosexual relationships through such means as repeal of DADT.  
Homosexuals like to avoid the subject of procreation and marriage, electing to focus on the acceptance of homosexuality through repeal of such laws as DADT and electing to discuss loving homosexual marriages sans children.  It's the oft-repeated modus operandi of the homosexual movement: get the foot in the door under the guise of equality, then use those laws as a springboard to destroying hundreds-year-old, even thousands-year-old institutions.  What will be left will be a world in which the very fabric of our society will be changed, with homosexuals and homosexuality still perceived as they are today, with the rest of society strong-armed by the government to "accept" their sinfulness.
Let's show the love for homosexuals: let's help cure them.
James Lindsay
8 years ago
The "Unit Cohesion" argument eventual boils down to the ability of some members to have their moral scorn over another's sexuality treated with heightened respect in the areas of freedom of association and religion. Moral scorn is no more deserving of such protection under these rights than shouting fire in a theater should be protected under freedom of speech. The age when the United States should police the morality of its military members or civilian employees is over - as well it should be in a nation founded on the protection of individual rights.

Some will say we were founded as a Christian nation. Actually, the founders of the government were deists and the original settlers were a particular kind of Christian - the anti-Catholic kind. For this reason, I am bemused whenever a Catholic uses the Christian Nation meme, since until 50 years ago it was used against Al Smith and was almost used against John F. Kennedy.

There is something unseemly about any group of people who were once a persectured minority who is no longer persecuted and instead persecutes others. The classical church did it in the 4th Century and now the American Church is doing it. Sad. It reminds me of the parable of the ungrateful servant.
8 years ago
"The age when the United States should police the morality of its military members or civilian employees is over - as well it should be in a nation founded on the protection of individual rights."
 
So I assume under this argument you would support repealing drug laws, laws regulating incest, beastiality, or prostitution?  Your view of the law is decidedly out of the American mainstream, as well as the natural law tradition of the Church.  
 
The more I read the posts on this and other entries, the more I think we need a Catholicism 101 seminar.  Point 1: Jesus founded the Church as an apostolic institution, i.e. governed by bishops.  Some seem to have the view that the Church is a self-actualization center to project all the unmet needs of your life.  Reminds of the non-denomination church in my town renaming their church a "dream center".
Jim McCrea
8 years ago
Let's try it this way, JR:
 
"Like it or not there is a fear in white men of black men, not a physical fear but that they will be hit by them. And they lash back at blacks because of this.  There is enough dysfunctional behavior when you have people on top of each other and the best solution is to impart as much cohesion as possible.  The military is not the best place for social experiments and that is what this is.  There are plenty of places in the society and the military where black men could serve but in the military it would be prudent to restrict them from combat situations or the close living conditions of others."
 
Poor immature white men.  They need to be PROTECTED from them big bad black men/gay men.
 
What a load of codswollop.
Mary Kennedy
8 years ago
Michael - here's a clue.  Children don't become legally available for adoption unless they have already been deprived of one or both of their parents.  It is not the adopting parents who so deprive them.  Blaming the adoptive parent for the child's need of a home is insulting to all adoptive parents.
And with the exception of healthy infants, there are not adoptive homes waiting for every child who needs one.  So you would prefer, apparently, children to have no parent at all to letting them have one or two parents who happened to be gay.  Ii doubt the kids see it that way.
And here's another clue.  There've been gay adoptions going on since the first "maiden aunt" or "bachelor uncle" took in an orphan niece or nephes.  And I've yet to see a good peer-reviewed study that demonstrated that those children ended up worse off as a whole than children adopted by straight married couples.
 
8 years ago
Mary - 
Get a clue.  Adoptions of orphans by gay couples is just a first step.  What follows is the intentional orphaning of children by gay couples who are no longer satisfied with the pool of available adoptable children.  That is, one of them acts as sperm donor or recipient and conceives a child with a third party, thereby creating a motherless or fatherless child.
You don't need a peer-reviewed study to know that children want to be brought up by their real parents; you need only know about the adopted children who seek out their real parents even with the finest of upbringings.  All children should have the opportunity to know and be raised by real their parents; children deprived of a parent are defacto worse off than those children who were born into loving 2-parent homes.  They are not only deprived of a parent, but they are deprived of all of the blessings that come with extended families, such as knowledge of health issues, what talents they might have inherited, where they got their red hair, not to mention the special bond that only blood relatives have.
Talk to an orphan; see what your peer reviewed study is worth.
 
 
Mary Kennedy
8 years ago
Michael, I've spoken to orphans.  I worked in the busiest adoption courtroom in the nation for five years, and in child welfare generally for fifteen.  I've represented birth parents, adopting parents, children and agencies.  I've worked with domestic newborns, children from state child welfare, foreign born kids, sib groups as big as seven or eight, adult adoptees, you name it. I've seen married couples, step parents, grandparents, single parents and gay parents.  During all that time, I've seen a few disruptions, to be sure.  But as a matter of fact, none of them involved gay parents. So as far as your ''slippery slope'' goes, I'm unmoved.  And if you don't want unmarried individuals to seek assisted reproduction in order to become parents, don't set up artificial and unnecessary barriers to their parenting kids who already need homes.
8 years ago
Mary -

If you want to exchange anecdotes, I'd be happy to share with you my personal experience with gay adoption and the confused child who form bonds with a partner only to have to say, "goodbye" to one partner and, "hello" to the next, and the next because the gay parent is unable to maintain a stable relationship of any length. So not only is the kid deprived of his parents, he has no concept of a stable family; all he knows his that his "dad" shares a bed with a different guy every so often. And I can only imagine how that will affect the kid as he enters adolescence. Just what we need, more kids on psychiatric meds.
Mary Kennedy
8 years ago
Color me unimpressed.
8 years ago
Mr. McCrea,
 
I'd appreciate it if you would refrain from your bigoted remarks.
Jim McCrea
8 years ago
Enlighten me as to what was bigoted in what I said.
 
What I did was point out the absurdity of what you said by simply changing a few words.
 
Mirrors do reflect all imprefections, don't they?
Jim McCrea
8 years ago
Michael Broloks:  It's so nice to know that all straight relationships stick it out and kids don't have to say good-bye to one partner and hello to the next. 
 
My relationship with my parther just crossed the 38 year mark - is that stable enough for you?  BTW, our relationshiop has outlived that of quite a few of our straight friends who plighted their troth in Holy Mother the Church in the everlasting Sacrament of Holy Matrimony.
 
Yep, those LGBT folks just don't know what it is all about.  They just need to emulate their serially monogamous straight betters.
8 years ago
Jim -
I really don't care how long your relationship has lasted; I think it's a shame you never had the desire to settle down with a woman and experience the gift of procreation given to us all by God.  My point to Mary was that anecdotal evidence is not evidence of anything.  
Mary Kennedy
8 years ago
Exactly, Michael.  That's why I asked for a peer-reviewed study. 
Jim McCrea
8 years ago
"I really don't care how long your relationship has lasted."
 
Michael:  there is not need for you to state the obvious.  Your bias is patent.
 
Procreation is much more than breeding, which seems to be a relatively easy thing to do.  So many obviously unqualified people do it without a second thought to the consequences of what is their selfishness in way too many cases.  Wham, bam, thank you ma'am, now leave me alone.
 
You are right: I have never had the desire to procreate.  It's a good thing that I never did.  That is true for many people who enter into "Holy Matrimony." 
 
So?
8 years ago
Hey Jim -

Not that it matters to you, but I don't hold in high esteem any unmarried male-female couples who have stayed together for extended time periods, either. I think that many modern perceptions about male-female relationships are screwed up. And I agree that many people should not become parents, certainly not solely on the basis that they can or that they view children as they do their material possessions.

Advertisement

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

A woman religious casts her ballot May 25 in Dublin as Ireland holds a referendum on its law on abortion. Voters went to the polls May 25 to decide whether to liberalize the country's abortion laws. (CNS photo/Alex Fraser, Reuters)
The repeal of Ireland's Eighth Amendment, which guarantees the right to life of the unborn, is passing by a 2-1 margin with most of the votes counted.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos testifies at a House Committee on Education and the Workforce, Tuesday, May 22, 2018, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
The Secretary of Education stirred up controversy when she said it was up to schools to decide if an undocumented student should be reported to authorities.
J.D. Long-GarcíaMay 25, 2018
Thousands gathered in Dublin May 12 to say "Love Both" and "Vote No" to abortion on demand. They were protesting abortion on demand in the forthcoming referendum May 25. (CNS photo/John McElroy)
“Priests and bishops get verbal abuse by being told, ‘How can you speak for women? You don’t know what it’s like!’”
America StaffMay 25, 2018
The coffin containing the body of St. John XXIII is seen during a ceremony in Vittorio Veneto Square after its arrival in Bergamo, Italy, May 24. The body of the late pope left the Vatican on May 24 to be displayed in his home region until June 10. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

BERGAMO, Italy (CNS) — Accompanied by Bishop Francesco Beschi of Bergamo and escorted by both Italian and Vatican police officers, the glass coffin containing the body of St. John XXIII left the Vatican early on May 24 for a 370-mile drive to Bergamo.