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Asking and telling about "Don't ask, Don't tell"

I'd love to think that Pentagon and White House officials are listening to people like Herschel Smith:

Hot button social issues such as DADT can tend to cloud one's judgment, making the reader dismissive to other arguments about very different and very important things.  So I don't want you to dismiss my views on other important things because we don't see eye to eye on DADT.

But in the end, DADT has been a mainstay of operations for a while now, and revoking this policy might mean more than a little change to the military.  It's appropriate to convey the thoughts of at least a few contacts active in the military.  My contacts - who by the way aren't opposed in principle to the idea of gays serving alongside them - seem to pan the idea pretty much across the board.

DADT is the perfect policy, they say.  It doesn't prevent gays from serving in the military.  That's just a mythical talking point of those who advocate its revocation.  DADT only prevents open discussion or practice of such things.  It is, by the way, similar to the way heterosexual relations are treated as well.  Men stay away from women altogether in uniform.  It isn't practiced, it isn't discussed, it is frowned upon - in theory.  This isn't to say that it doesn't happen, any more than DADT would imply that gay sexual relations don't happen.  It does mean that there are certain requirements in the military that comport with good discipline, and they are enforced to the extent possible.  For a branch like the Marines which has as their cornerstone removing differences and enforcing sameness (or at least relegating them to unimportant status - e.g., no one can remove language barriers), it probably will have a significant affect.

Now for my own views.  I thought about this position within the context of the only exception that I can think of, namely, marriage.  Men and women are allowed to be married in the military.  But marriage is not performed by the Marine Corps or Army.  It is performed and recognized within and by states which have laws that govern such things.  Imposing homosexual marriage on a branch of the service just to say that there is no exception to the way gays and heterosexuals are treated under DADT is a false dilemma.  It is imposing a foreign problem on the military - a consideration that should be irrelevant to the conversation.

In a republic such as ours, laws are changed by legislative process which usually begins with advocacy.  One group or another wants a law changed or enacted, and that group presses the issue.  If gays want to marry, changing DADT isn't the way to go.  Changing laws is the way to go.  No gay marriage (insofar as DADT applies) in the military (similar to no gay marriage in most states)  is an output (or outcome) of the debate, not an input to it.

In summary, DADT is the perfect solution to the issue.  There is to be no sexual relations with other service members, and no discussion of it.  This is true regardless of orientation.  DADT is a subset of that regulation, not an exception to it.  It doesn't prevent gays from serving in the military.  Its revocation would serve no useful function, and therefore TCJ opposes its revocation unless someone can come up with something better than the false mantra that some service members must "lie about who they are."

Sounds like wisdom to me.

Crossposted(*).


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Comments (27)

I don't have a strong posit... (Below threshold)
DaveD:

I don't have a strong position one way or another on this right now and I think you are right that Mr Smith's discussion is a well reasoned one. However, you have to clarify for me.........
If a serviceman or servicewoman formally admits he/she is gay and yet is not having any sexual relations with a fellow service person the confessor can be discharged. If a service person admits he/she is heterosexual and is not having relations with a fellow serviceperson, then nothing happens?

Just asking as I am trying to understand what the current situation is.

Who cares the orientation a... (Below threshold)
914:

Who cares the orientation as long as honor and dignity are observed while serving the Country.

Well, of course the activists types probably enlist just to push this front and center because they need validation. Just do Your job and live and let live.

I don't care what a person'... (Below threshold)
kevino:

I don't care what a person's sexual orientation is, either. And I believe that other parts of the Uniform Code of Military Conduct are perfectly adequate to resolving issues between individuals as a result of openly gay people being in the military.

Most of the counter arguments that I hear sound a lot like the push-back when blacks and women were given better roles in the military. Basically the argument is that it will undermine efficiency because the military doesn't want things to be different.

What I find incomprehensible is the position that President Obama has taken. He announces the DADT is going to be eliminated, but then he says the process will take years (i.e. after Obama's re-election bid) and will require an act of Congress. So Obama makes a pretty speech, checks the issue off his list, punts the issue to congress, and walks away. Again.

I seem to remember reading about how equality for blacks was dictated to the military: it was done by Presidential order. This President is fond of Presidential orders, why isn't this issue quickly and directly dealt with in a couple of days? The military is under the control of the Commander in Chief.

Why is Obama outsourcing this to Congress - like he did to with the Porkulus, healthcare, and the new jobs bill?

No brains? No guts? No motivation? All of the above?

This does a fairly good job... (Below threshold)
James H:

This does a fairly good job of addressing fraternization within the ranks. Same-sex and opposite-sex fraternization should be treated the same, of course. But DADT does not merely cover fraternization. A gay service member can face discharge merely for announcing his sexuality on TV. A heterosexual service member faces no such ordeal.

"He announces the DADT i... (Below threshold)
914:

"He announces the DADT is going to be eliminated, but then he says the process will take years (i.e. after Obama's re-election bid) and will require an act of Congress. So Obama makes a pretty speech, checks the issue off his list, punts the issue to congress, and walks away. Again."

He announced closing gitmo, leaving Iraq and posting impending legislation on the internet for transparency as well..

Either He's a gutless wonder? An an egotistical liar, or all of the preceeding..

re: "Who cares the orientat... (Below threshold)
Hank:

re: "Who cares the orientation as long as honor and dignity are observed while serving the Country."

Well said, 914.

DADT has been very successf... (Below threshold)
Justrand:

DADT has been very successful...and should be retained.

If you ever been aboard a destroyer as an enlisted man you know that there is NO privacy and NO way to avoid direct physical contact in all stages of undress with people of the same sex. 6 men will sleep, dress and undress in a space the size of a SMALL closet. Think about it.

I am a raging heterosexual, and VERY happily married! That said, if I spent several months dressing/undressing and rubbing up against the gender I was attraacted to...and could proudly proclaim my attraction to them...then "complications" would likely ensue.

Leave DADT alone...it is not broken, so don't try to "fix" it!

I think DADT can be elimina... (Below threshold)
Jeff:

I think DADT can be eliminated if it is done right.

Nobody seems to want to talk about what it would mean to repeal DADT and the effect it would have on the day to day lives of service men and women.

Its not about gays ability to do their jobs. Nobody sane really claims they can't do the job.
Its not about other service men and women working alongside openly gay comrades. Nobody can reasonably say that is not possible. (look at the civilian world)

What is different between the civilian world and military service is the living conditions. Communal living conditions in the enlisted Army, Marines and Navy (not sure about Airforce enlisted) are completely different than life in the civilian world. There is very little physical privacy. That is why men and women in the services have seperate quarters.
Some have argued that, for example, gay men are not attracted to hetero men so it wouldn't be a problem for them to live in a communal situation. I'm sure every hetro guy would love to make the same argument about men an women. Heh, those women would never date me so its ok if I get to watch them walk around half dressed. Hetero guys know they would look and assume that gay men would look as well.
If nothing is done about living conditions then what you will do is allow gay service members to stop lying or hiding their orientation and start lying about or hiding their attraction to the same sex. And that will effect morale and recruiting for 90% of the military.

I think DADT can be eliminated if it is done right.

"Either He's a gutless w... (Below threshold)
SShiell:

"Either He's a gutless wonder? An an egotistical liar, or all of the preceeding.."

I am not a fan of Obama nor am I an Obama apologist but I have to intercede here. Obama cannot just sign an executive order it is a done deal.

There are articles within the UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice) which deal with sexual orientation that have to be revised in order for Homosexuals to legally and openly serve in the US Military. The UCMJ is the single source legal code for the entire US military. And, by law, Congress has the sole responsibility for the content of the UCMJ. They must pass bills which would change the UCMJ and then Obama could then sign them into law.

Obama, however, could jump start the process by pushing the agenda with an executive order, ala GitMo, essentially ordering the action to take place by a certain date and then pushing the legislative agenda to accomodate the process.

Once again Obama is faced with a self-inflicted leadership issue and he has let his voice be heard loud and clear by voting "PRESENT!"

Here's an interesting thoug... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

Here's an interesting thought. Instead of letting the 'ivory tower' and 'pandering politicians' decide, LET THOSE IN THE MILITARY VOTE ON IT!

After all, they are the ones who are going to have to live with it.

Thanks for the intercession... (Below threshold)
914:

Thanks for the intercession SShiell... I would not want Barry to interfere more in anything like the economy more than He already has! Government screws up everything everytime they get involved. Too many chefs in the kitchen with thier own recipes of self indulgence.

I was simply stating an objective ( hee hee ) observation of the Ones behaviors thus far into His all about Himself created fantasy dilemna.

Never vote "present!" And never ever let a self created crisis go to waste!

The "love that dare not spe... (Below threshold)
bobdog:

The "love that dare not speak its name" has become the love that just won't shut up.

What's next? Affirmative Action for Teh Gays? Gay charter schools? Gay tax incentives? A National Education Curriculum for Mandatory Gay Studies? Oh, wait. We've already got that last one.

Can't we just go back to calling each other ignorant racists and stop all this weepy hand-wringing about gay "rights"? Unless you're gay, who really gives a shit about this issue and why is it more important that the dealing with the real problems we face? Like, oh, continuing 10% unemployment, a completely out of control economy and a reckless, profiligate Congress that has gone completely off the rails.

This topic gets top billing in Washington? Why is that?

I call bullshit.

Repealing the compromise DA... (Below threshold)
bryanD:

Repealing the compromise DADT protocol will be a disaster because it will open the door to Flaming Gay culture within the ranks. As well as a volunteer jarhead, I spent 17 years as an army brat----the state of things in the US Army overseas, circa 1977-78, was deplorable.

At 1700 hours, the undercover (still in technically-male dress) transvestites came out. Gold loop earrings. Negro hair bleached orange---yes, Blacks seemed to embrace *things* more, for some reason. Perhaps exercising full recent equal rights?

As for the "honor and dignity" thing: there were certain person(s) later, in the USMC grunts, who, off duty, while drunk off their ass(es), let things slip.
Being friends, we pretended to forget. Gossip still travelled. Nobody snitched. They're geared That Way. And they *maintained* afterwards. That's it.

BUT! To share a 12-man shower, day-in and day-out, with someone who might be prone to Leering or Enjoying? Fuggitaboudit!

BIG TROUBLE.
Plus it will be the end of marine esprit de corps. Ditto other elite arms.

"This topic gets top billin... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

"This topic gets top billing in Washington? Why is that?"

Because it's a vocal minority that also happens to be part of the 'intellectual elite'. That and no one has the balls to say 'stop your whining'.

I think DADT is actually fe... (Below threshold)
Matt:

I think DADT is actually federal law and not something the military can change of their own free will, and I am not sure an executive order can be used to counteract federal legislation. I thought an EO was to enact legislation within the administrative branch of government or to address critical issues not yet acted upon by Congress.

DADT was an Executive order... (Below threshold)
Jeff:

DADT was an Executive order that directed the military to stop enforcing the law and only discharge gays who flaunted their orientation. Thats the Don't Ask part of DADT.
Congress must change the law. If Obama were to revoke DADT the military could start asking again. Would they ? Most likely not but its not a Presidential Order issue.

Seriously? Seriously? Is ... (Below threshold)
Tina:

Seriously? Seriously? Is this what Republicans are going to focus on? Seriously?

This is nothing but diversion so Mr. Obama can paint the Rs as bigoted morons. And frankly, if the Rs take the bait...they truly are not fit to lead again.

No wonder the Rs lost.

Tina, lighten up. It can't... (Below threshold)
Oyster:

Tina, lighten up. It can't be discussed?

Herschel Smith did a good job of stating his case. Others here have made good points too though. I've never been in the service, but one thing sort of jumps out at me in regard to DADT. What about gay women? Or are there no complaints or issues there?

tina "Seriously? Seri... (Below threshold)
Marc:

tina "Seriously? Seriously? Is this what Republicans are going to focus on? Seriously?"

Excuse me.... better look again, it's obama that has brought the issue to the forefront not the republicans.

SShiell, Jeff, and Matt:</p... (Below threshold)
kevino:

SShiell, Jeff, and Matt:

The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) is defined by an act of Congress and cannot be reversed by Executive Order.

However, sexual misconduct, including adultery, forced sexual contact, and consensual homosexual contact, is defined by a separate document called the Manual of Courts-Martial (MCM). For example, see Sec. 925 Art. 125 "Sodomy". MCM defines the prosecution of conduct issues, is defined by Executive Order, and has been repeatedly amended by Executive Order.

When one reads these documents, you get a sense of where the "Don't ask, don't tell" policy came from.

I had a little time to search the US Code, and I found something I didn't know before: homosexual conduct in the military is explicitly spelled out in US Code Title 10, Subtitle G, Section 654: "Policy Concerning Homosexuality in the Armed Forces". This section spells out the justification for the prohibition of openly homosexual people serving in the military. It does not contain a system of enforcement or penalties, but it does state that the Secretary of Defense is to enforce the prohibition. Therefore, it cannot be invalidated by Executive Order without running into the obvious conflict of a President refusing to administer a Law.

It also says something else very interesting:

The suspension of questioning concerning homosexuality as part of the processing of individuals for accession into the Armed Forces under the interim policy of January 29, 1993, should be continued, but the Secretary of Defense may reinstate that questioning with such questions or such revised questions as he considers appropriate if the Secretary determines that it is necessary to do so in order to effectuate the policy set forth in section 654 of title 10, United States Code.

Very true: the disadvantage of amending the MCM by Executive Order is that another President can amend it again.

Bottom line: it is up to Congress to amend or rescind a section of the US Code.

DADT only prevents... (Below threshold)
Tina S:
DADT only prevents open discussion or practice of such things. It is, by the way, similar to the way heterosexual relations are treated as well.

Rick,

If DADT applied to heterosexuals than this is how you would be treated:

1. You could not tell anyone you have a girl friend or wife.

2. On the phone you could not tell your wife/girl friend you love her if anyone is in earshot. The only way around it is to pretend you are talking to your mother or sister.

3. If your messaging with your wife/girlfriend and she says you love you, you would have to quickly look around to make sure nobody is watching you. This means that instead of telling her you love her too, you may have to imediately close your messenger so know one outs you.

Tina,My name is Ti... (Below threshold)
Tina S:

Tina,

My name is Tina also. I've been posting comments to wizbang for 6+ months. To prevent confusion would you mind not using Tina.

Tina S:There's no ... (Below threshold)
epador:

Tina S:

There's no confusing Tina with Tina S. At least for those of us with brains.

What epador said ...<... (Below threshold)
Oyster:

What epador said ...

And I'm pretty sure we're smart enough to see there's an "S" after your name.

There's no confusing Tin... (Below threshold)
Tina S:

There's no confusing Tina with Tina S. At least for those of us with brains.

Your right, Tina should feel free to continue using it. Sorry Tina.

"Your right, Tina should... (Below threshold)
914:

"Your right, Tina should feel free to continue using it. Sorry Tina."

So Tina S is a bi-polar representation of Tina?

Another <a href="http://www... (Below threshold)
James H:



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