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February 04, 2010

Colin Powell on DADT: Then and Now

If there's anything more certain than the sun rising every morning, it's that Colin Powell will be trotted out by the Left when they need a Voice of Moral Authority from the Ranks:

“In the almost 17 years since the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ legislation was passed, attitudes and circumstances have changed,” General Powell said in a statement issued by his office. He added: “I fully support the new approach presented to the Senate Armed Services Committee this week by Secretary of Defense Gates and Admiral Mullen.”

There's just one problem with Powell's well timed change of heart. "Attitudes and circumstances" may well have changed in the last 17 years but human nature has not. So before we turn Powell into the standard bearer for repealing DADT, it makes sense to examine the objections cited by the nation's most trusted retired officer two decades ago.

And when we do it seems fair to ask, "How has any of this changed?":

[In testimony before Congress on gays in the military], I said, “I think it would be prejudicial to good order and discipline to try to integrate gays and lesbians in the current military structure.” Congresswoman Pat Schroeder quoted a 1942 government report and claimed that the same arguments used then against racial integration in the military were being used against gays today.

She had her logic wrong. I responded, “Skin color is a benign, nonbehavioral characteristic. Sexual orientation is perhaps the most profound of human behavioral characteristics. Comparison of the two is a convenient but invalid argument."

His words bear repeating. They also deserve an honest attempt to grapple with an inconvenient truth he wasn't afraid to speak when the tide of public opinion supported him. Unlike skin color, human sexuality - whether female or male, heterosexual or homosexual - is a fundamental and extremely powerful driver of human behavior. To elide past this basic truth requires an almost willful act of blindness.

My own opinions about both women and gays openly serving in the military have undergone a radical shift during the last thirty years. I began by seeing no reason why both women and gays shouldn't be able to serve anywhere they wished to. What changed my mind over the years, contrary to the bigoted assertions of close minded individuals who refuse to entertain ideas that challenge their world view, was not misogyny or fear of Teh Gay.

It was over 30 years of observing real human behavior. What changed my mind were repeated demonstrations of a basic fact: in real life (which is a very different realm from the utopian, best case scenarios of would be reformers), people don't always behave well. And though most people are good, decent, and responsible it takes only a small number who behave otherwise to cause significant problems for the rest of us.

We saw this principle in action in September of 2009.

What is so bizarre to me about the arguments of those who don't even want to discuss the real life consequences of having gays serve openly in the armed forces is that they insist that considering anything but the best case scenario is de facto bigotry. But their fear fueled name calling doesn't stand up to close inspection. There are rational objections to allowing gays to serve openly and they aren't based on the assumption that homosexuals behave differently than heterosexuals. They are based on the assumption that gays are no different from you and me. How is that bigotry?

There is a good reason men and women aren't bunked together; why they don't shower, change clothes, or relieve themselves in the same rooms. Civilian jobs have no easy equivalent to military life. Even in peacetime, junior enlisted troops live in close quarters with little or no privacy. Most are single, and for many the military is the first time they have lived away from home.

The military is like a giant pyramid. At the top are officers and staff NCOs - older, more likely to be married, more experienced and presumably more able to exercise self restraint. But the vast majority of the armed forces are young, single men and women. Integrating women into the armed forces has vastly increased the number of rape accusations, allegations of sexual harassment and incidents of fraternization and adultery.

Any company or battalion commander could tell you that disciplinary issues related to sex have a significant impact on unit morale and readiness. And this occurs even though men and women do not share the same quarters.

Which raises an interesting question. If we take the non-bigoted approach and assume that homosexuals have the same drives heterosexuals do; if we assume they are no more likely to act on these drives but no less likely either; if we assume they are, in fact, just like us; is it not reasonable to predict a similar increase in rape accusations and allegations of sexual harassment, fraternization and adultery?

Again, these assumptions are not based on demonization of gays, nor upon the assumption that they are any less moral or dedicated than heterosexuals. They are based on the assumption that, in the aggregate, gays are every bit as moral and dedicated as heteros but that the same human temptations and weaknesses which cause discipline problems when men and women share close quarters will manifest themselves when men and women who are sexually attracted to their own sex are billeted together.

This is not fear. It is not homophobia. And it is certainly not hatred or bigotry. It is common sense.

And the common sense conclusion is only exacerbated by the fact that - unlike racial integration (which did not billet potential sexual partners together) and unlike the integration of women into the military (which likewise did not billet potential sexual partners together), allowing gays to serve openly presumes a best case scenario: that we can billet people who are sexually attracted to each other together and expect that they will somehow rise above human tendencies we all share regardless of our sexual orientation.

It's important for us to have a national conversation about Don't Ask, Don't Tell but it should not be a one sided conversation where anyone who dares to mention the obvious is shouted down or accused of being a bigot. There are legitimate competing interests here and they should all be considered.

There is the interest of gays who have served this nation honorably and with valor and who would like to do so without having to hide one of the most fundamental human characteristics: who they love or want to have sex with. But there is also the interest of military leaders who are regularly asked to do the improbable and rarely if ever have the luxury of operating under perfect conditions using only soldiers who possess superhuman restraint.

War is not a best case scenario - it is the very worst of worst cases. It strikes me as somewhat absurd that the same people who argue that war reduces men and women to animals - that it brings out the very worst in human nature - are happy to forget these misgivings when it suits their purpose.

The truth is that war appeals to both sides of those who fight: to both the better and worse angels of human nature. In combat people can and do rise above their instincts, often amazing us with acts of true heroism, devotion to duty, and self sacrifice. But war can also bring out the worst in people: the selfish and self absorbed side. That is one reason the military has far more - and far stricter - rules than the general population. In wartime, people falsely accuse others. They file frivolous grievances to get out of assignments they consider onerous or dangerous. They do seemingly irrational things like lying, getting pregnant, injuring themselves, or faking mental illness in hopes of being discharged or sent home.

Comparisons to civilian life that fail to consider the real world conditions under which the military operates are a poor basis for making policy. Arguments that assume people will never do things experience shows us they have done in the past and will do again are just as unhelpful. What, in our experience of the real world, supports the belief that homosexuals are any more willing or able than heterosexuals to resist drives we all share? This question becomes even more important when the restraint that would be asked of gays if DADT is repealed is not the SAME restraint currently expected from heterosexuals, but in fact a far greater degree of restraint (and in the face of considerably greater temptation) than heterosexuals are ever asked to resist.

If our experience tells us that too many heteros fail that test under far less demanding circumstances, under what utilitarian or equitable principle do we justify a policy that demands far more from gays than we do from ourselves (or, for that matter, than they do from themselves in civilian life)?

This is a conversation we need to have as a nation, but it should be an honest and open debate rather than one ruled by fear, name calling and hyperbole. Above all, it is a conversation in which we should look just as hard at how we got where we are as at where we want to go:

...as G.K. Chesterton points out, people who don't see the use of a social institution are the last people who should be allowed to reform it:
In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, "I don't see the use of this; let us clear it away." To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: "If you don't see the use of it, I certainly won't let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it."

This paradox rests on the most elementary common sense. The gate or fence did not grow there. It was not set up by somnambulists who built it in their sleep. It is highly improbable that it was put there by escaped lunatics who were for some reason loose in the street. Some person had some reason for thinking it would be a good thing for somebody. And until we know what the reason was, we really cannot judge whether the reason was reasonable. It is extremely probable that we have overlooked some whole aspect of the question, if something set up by human beings like ourselves seems to be entirely meaningless and mysterious. There are reformers who get over this difficulty by assuming that all their fathers were fools; but if that be so, we can only say that folly appears to be a hereditary disease. But the truth is that nobody has any business to destroy a social institution until he has really seen it as an historical institution. If he knows how it arose, and what purposes it was supposed to serve, he may really be able to say that they were bad purposes, that they have since become bad purposes, or that they are purposes which are no longer served. But if he simply stares at the thing as a senseless monstrosity that has somehow sprung up in his path, it is he and not the traditionalist who is suffering from an illusion.

Now, of course, this can turn into a sort of precautionary principle that prevents reform from ever happening. That would be bad; all sorts of things need changing all the time, because society and our environment change. But as a matter of principle, it is probably a bad idea to let someone go mucking around with social arrangements, such as the way we treat unwed parenthood, if their idea about that institution is that "it just growed". You don't have to be a rock-ribbed conservative to recognise that there is something of an evolutionary process in society: institutional features are not necessarily the best possible arrangement, but they have been selected for a certain amount of fitness.

It might also be, of course, that the feature is what evolutionary biologists call a spandrel. It's a term taken from architecture; spandrels are the pretty little spaces between vaulted arches. They are not designed for; they are a useless, but pretty, side effect of the physical properties of arches. In evolutionary biology, spandrel is some feature which is not selected for, but appears as a byproduct of other traits that are selected for. Belly buttons are a neat place to put piercings, but they're not there because of that; they're a byproduct of mammalian reproduction.

However, and architect will be happy to tell you that if you try to rip out the spandrel, you might easily bring down the building.

The vast majority of Americans have never served in the military. Even fewer have served in combat. Basing enormous policy changes upon overly optimistic (not to mention fundamentally dishonest) assumptions is a recipe for disaster. Instead, such sweeping changes should be conditioned upon a full and fair assessment of both the benefits and costs of change. That can't happen in an atmosphere where certain viewpoints are privileged and others stifled and marginalized.

I am not sure any of us knows with certainty what the repercussions of repealing DADT would be. What I do know is that if this is such a no brainer, we should not fear opposing viewpoints.

There are real questions that remain unanswered by proponents of repealing DADT. We should make sure those questions get a fair hearing. And we should also strive to conduct ourselves in a manner that neither demonizes nor beatifies the participants: that avoids hyperbole and inflammatory rhetoric.

We need to get this right, and shutting down debate is no way to usher in "change we can believe in"... much less live with.

Update: Welcome, American Thinker readers!

Posted by Cassandra at February 4, 2010 08:09 AM

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You can rarely go wrong by quoting Chesterton. That insight remains highly valuable, and I wish it were more broadly appreciated. Thank you for bringing it forward here.

Posted by: Grim at February 4, 2010 03:32 PM

Newsflash: Gays have been serving in the US military since the beginning of the US military. They have served in wartime and peacetime, before DADT and during DADT. The military structure has seemed to survive despite this rather obvious fact.

Pretending that the military structure will magically implode when it is revealed that homosexuals live among them right this very minute doesn't hold water.

Posted by: Craig at February 4, 2010 04:59 PM

Gosh, Craig... if I had made that argument that would be a *brilliant* rebuttal. Try actually addressing what I wrote instead of stabbing that straw man to death.

Posted by: cass at February 4, 2010 06:51 PM

My point is that all of your statements about the supposed difficulties of heteros and homosexuals coexisting together in the military during wartime or peacetime have and are occurring currently.

The only difference is, the heteros do not know some of the people they are serving with are gay.
How, exactly, is revealing this knowledge and forcing the military to deal with it going to endanger "good order and discipline"?

Posted by: Craig at February 4, 2010 08:34 PM

Craig, no to your point. The point is an expectation of not being considered a sex object. Closeted gays might look but I can EXPECT not to be approached in the shower or where ever. When they are not longer obliged to not pay attention, then it makes shower time in the field a little awkward. Most folks could care less who is gay and who isn't - until there are 40 naked guys in the shower tent and the guy right next to you is gay and it looks like he likes you!

Posted by: Barry at February 4, 2010 09:31 PM

My point is that all of your statements about the supposed difficulties of heteros and homosexuals coexisting together in the military during wartime or peacetime have and are occurring currently.

Let's see if I have your argument straight.

1. Right now, either:

* We're already having problems even though - by your argument - heteros don't know their fellow service members are gay:

The only difference is, the heteros do not know some of the people they are serving with are gay.

This one doesn't make much sense, given that the potential problems I cited don't occur unless a service member's sexual orientation is out in the open. And if it were the case that we were already having all these problems, wouldn't lifting DADT tend to make them *more*, rather than *less* common (especially since the privacy/rape/sexual harassment concerns I cited all involve that awareness?).

Let's try again:

* We're NOT having any of these problems now because heteros don't realize their fellow service members are gay.

Hmmm. Thus it must logically follow that NOT having problems which can't happen unless heteros know their fellow service members are gay proves beyond a doubt that people wouldn't feel or behave any differently under completely different circumstances?

Wow. Really? That's quite an assumption.

Before you begin arguing points I never made, let me remind you that I have not said anywhere in this post that DADT shouldn't be repealed. I haven't argued that straights hate gays or won't work with them, because I don't believe that. And finally, I haven't argued that (contra your exaggerations) the military will "implode". Your words there, not mine and not even close to anything I said.

In fact, I've said that this is a conversation we ought to have.

Are you arguing that we shouldn't look at this issue carefully? That only one side of the debate should be presented? Is that the way we do things in this country?

Posted by: Cassandra at February 4, 2010 09:41 PM

Actually, Craig, you ought to stand up to the standard set in the post. Can you explain what the point of DADT was, without suggesting that it was 'put there by escaped lunatics,' or that 'our fathers were fools'?

Before we tear it down, let's make sure we understand why it was there to start with. If your only answer boils down to 'irrationality,' which includes things like mere prejudice, we might reasonably suggest that you haven't yet understood the thing. We ought to be sure that there really is no more need for this fence.

Posted by: Grim at February 4, 2010 09:58 PM

Funny how this comes up after a major election loss and multiple legislative set backs. Almost like they wanted to change the subject and get all us right wing nuts to fight amongst ourselves while they look for a shiv to stick in our back.

Posted by: Jeremy at February 4, 2010 11:06 PM

*shrug* Obama doesn't like the military. He does like scoring brownie points with the left. Of course he'll take a two-fer like this.

Posted by: Foxfier at February 4, 2010 11:27 PM

Craig, so you voted for Palin?

Posted by: Ymarsakar at February 5, 2010 12:32 AM

Craig, I was listening to NPR. Conservatives do that from time to time to find out *what* liberals are thinking; if and when they do think.

Imagine my surprise when the intrepid interview team braved Camp Lejeune and interviewed actual Marines smoking outside of Hooters, or at other
area eateries. More than a few did not want to
have their names attached to their comments.

Not one of them had a problem with gays in the military. They preferred to NOT know if their combat buddy was gay, but there were a few who *inhales deeply of smelling salts* actually KNOW gays who are serving and doing a fine job of it.

The reason they prefer not to know had more to do with being able to hold it together in a war zone.
NOT because they wanted to pound the snot out of
an alleged gay comrade.

Or so I heard.

Posted by: Cricket at February 5, 2010 12:57 AM

Colon Bowel. That is all.

Posted by: camojack at February 5, 2010 04:00 AM

True, you haven't said "DADT shouldn't be repealed".

You did say, however, that due to your 30 years of observing real human behavior, you don't believe that gays and heteros can serve together effectively in an open environment and go on to list your reasons for this belief.

Are you unaware of Dr. Gregory M. Herek?

He said the following to the Armed Services Committee in 1993:

"The research data show that there is nothing about lesbians and gay men that makes them inherently unfit for military service, and there is nothing about heterosexuals that makes them inherently unable to work and live with gay people in close quarters," said Dr. Herek.



I highly recommend reading the whole article. I think it addresses alot of your concerns.

If you don't believe the science, how about reality. Every country in the European Union, except Greece, allows gays to serve openly in the military. The IDF has allowed gays to serve openly since 1993, the same year DADT was enacted here.

Also, Colin Powell isn't the only general who has reversed his opinion on DADT. In January 2007, General John Shalikashvili, who was Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1993 and supported the DADT policy at the time, stated in a New York Times op-ed that he now supports gays serving openly in America's armed forces.



In November 2007, 28 retired generals and admirals, including Shalikashvili, released a letter calling for the repeal of DADT:

“We respectfully urge Congress to repeal the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy,” the letter says. “Those of us signing this letter have dedicated our lives to defending the rights of our citizens to believe whatever they wish.”



Posted by: Craig at February 5, 2010 07:48 AM

I am aware of all those things. And the testimony of one psychiatrist does not outweigh what happens in the real world.

There is nothing about women that makes them "inherently" unfit for military service, and nothing about men that makes them "inherently" unable to serve with women and many "experts" have reminded us of this.

Unfortunately for the "experts", it turns out that that asking, "Is there any 'inherent' reason that allowing women to serve would affect readiness" was the wrong question. The answer to that question is so politically toxic that DoD actually stopped reporting on it:


A report linked in this report lays out the problem:

If pregnancy so obviously impacts readiness at the tactical level why hasn’t the Army addressed the problem? Army leadership is in a catch 22 position; they must maintain the fighting strength and readiness of the force while at the same time balancing the political issues of a dual-gender Army. It is considered “politically incorrect” or gender-biased to verbalize the problems pregnancies cause our Army, and as a result no one will admit there is a problem. The only way to develop a feasible solution is to acknowledge there is a problem. Only then will there be a solution that benefits both the Army and the pregnant soldier.

Here are some fun facts you won't read in your newspaper because only "misogynists" bring up problems associated with women serving:

14,012 soldiers delivered babies in 2001.
This represented 18.9% of the total number of women in the Army Sep 2001

Two studies indicate that approximately 50% of soldiers who deliver infants reported they were mistimed or undesired

Women made up 40% of the hospitalizations of soldiers in 1999 (Note: women are 15% of the Army)

58.3% of the hospitalizations among women were related to pregnancy, delivery or postpartum complications

And yet, according to the "experts", women have no adverse effect on unit cohesion or unit readiness.

You may be asking what non-deployable pregnancy rates have to do with gays?

1. This is powerful evidence that the sex lives of female military personnel do, in fact, have an effect on military readiness - even though free contraception is readily available.

2. Just as pregnancy makes a soldier non-deployable, so does infection with HIV/AIDS. The primary vector for AIDS infection is male-to-male sexual contact: it accounted for 64% of new AIDS cases in 2007 according to the CDC:


3. Military personnel have higher rates for most STD infections than the comparable civilian cohort:


Interestingly, AIDS was not tracked in this DoD study. Remind you of anything? Oh yeah - pregnancy rates.

So let's look rates of HIV infection in the services:

Under federal law, servicemembers who become HIV-positive are retained in the military, but cannot be deployed overseas or on ships. (National Defense Authorization Act for FY 1987 (P.L. 99-661, Section 705(c)) DoD policy denies enlistment to persons having serologic evidence of HIV, and mandates periodic screenings for HIV infection. The DoD further mandates medical care for HIV-positive personnel, and protections against adverse personnel actions or violations of privacy. Affected personnel are discharged when they are determined to be unfit for further duty. (DoD Instruction 6485.01, Oct. 17, 2006)

According to Commander Wayne L. Johnson, JAGC, Navy (Ret.), who has researched this issue as an
instructor at the Naval Justice School, the special status accorded to HIV-positive personnel can continue for many years--sometimes for decades. The deployment exemption is demoralizing because of the heavier burden it imposes on other personnel who are subject to deployment.

Proportional rates of HIV infection were generally higher in all the services in 1990, but dropped after passage of the 1993 law that codified the Defense Department’s regulations banning homosexuals from the military.

The graph below illustrates a steady trend line decline in the number of military personnel who are nondeployable due to HIV-positive status:


Notice a common thread? According to the UCMJ, soldiers cannot render themselves unfit for duty and yet a large percentage of women in the military do just that - effectively rendering themselves undeployable.

And yet they cannot be held accountable even though pregnancy is entirely preventable.

HIV also renders a soldier unfit for duty. Like pregnancy, it is preventable and yet soldiers who fail to exercise sensible precautions cannot be punished and cannot be discharged even though they have undeniably rendered themselves undeployable.

You continue to assume that the UCMJ will enable the military to deal with the fraternization and other sexual issues I outlined in this post and yet I have presented proof that activities that render soldiers non-deployable - though normally punishable under the UCMJ, are condoned. You are ignoring the role of identity politics and its ability to subvert military regulations: IOW, assuming a best case scenario that I have just shown you isn't the case in the real world.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 5, 2010 09:01 AM

The bottom line, to my civilian way of thinking, then, is this:

There is not a problem with homosexual men and women serving in the military.

There is not a problem with women serving in the military.

Provided the following:
They behave within the expected confines of the UCMJ. Yet, at the present, there are glaring exceptions and loopholes (as Cassandra has cited) that have been created to reduce the stigma of such "identity" problems within the military.

Also, there is a real problem (and always has been) of sexual fraternization, usually heterosexual, and historically between military and the wives of other miliary personnel (didja ever see or read "From Here to Eternity"?).
There are annually quite a few cases of "fraternization", between the wife of one officer/NCO deployed and another officer/NCO staying behind in the US. And unfortunately, this has negative effects on morale and good military order, hence some JAG officer has to pursue these unpleasant cases and see that "justice is done". JAG officers generally hate this sort of investigation.
And now, with more serving homosexuals in the military, homosexual "misbehavior" is the cause of prosecution and summary discharge, because at present, the JAG officer corp cannot ignore flagrant disregard for good military order and discipline.

True, most serving military are not upset, mad or vengeful at serving gay/homsexuals that are in their unit, per the comment by Cricket. But that is predicated on their continued good behavior, and on maintaining good military order and discipline. If such discpline is or was allowed to decay for heterosexual problems (adultery, etc.), the same loss of discipline and morale would appear.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at February 5, 2010 12:30 PM

Don, that is exactly what the Marines said, on the condition of anonymity; good order and discipline. That was the ONLY thing they said, and they did not elaborate further other than to say they followed the guidance of the Commander in Chief.

What he wanted was what they would follow.

Craig, last I checked, experts don't always live in reality.

Posted by: Cricket at February 5, 2010 12:51 PM

As I recall, the Navy had problems too. The first male/female integrated ship, a supply ship IIRC, came back from its first cruise. The captain declared the cruise a success. In actuality, 30% of the unmarried females aboard the ship came back pregnant.

As for DADT, my active duty experience was before DADT was enacted. Although homosexuality was grounds for discharge, it (1) had to be initiated by the CO and (2) had to be proven by ACTS, not words. IOW, simply declaring yourself to be a homosexual was not enough. One had to prove acts, not words or intent, in order to back up a discharge. And the discharges were administrative in nature, not punitive, and not automatically OTH (Other Than Honorable) discharges.

Under DADT, the number of discharges for homosexuality increased from before.

Back to the original discussion: bringing females into field headquarters units (specifically a Marine division) meant having to make some accommodations in the field. I don't know what eventually transpired, but in 1979, when 2nd MarDiv HQ was in the field for two weeks, the only accommodations made were (1) sleeping arrangements and (2) staggering shower hours. The only accommodation made with the wooden four-holers was to have waist-high canvas (measured when standing) separating the holes. Not so strange for anyone who had any liberty time in South East Asia, where the single restroom in the restaurants had a row of urinals on one side of the room and stalls with doors on the other side of the room. Mixed use, although I never saw a female at the urinals. One gets used to it.

But females are obviously distinguishable from males. Not so homosexuals and heterosexuals. That poses some problems on its own.

I'll be interested to see what the DOD panel reports out with.

Posted by: Rex at February 5, 2010 12:57 PM

Craig, last I checked, experts don't always live in reality.

Nonsense, little lady! Just exactly what qualifications do you have to comment on your so-called "reality"?

Every intelligent person knows that one can see the ground *much* more clearly from atop that ivory tower!

Posted by: What Would We Do Without Experts? at February 5, 2010 01:14 PM


I remember in 29 Stumps pestering my husband to have a Family Day/Jane Wayne day out in the training area when the guys were in the field.

Manischevitz, did I get an education!

He began telling me all the things the battalion would have to do to accommodate women. Taking a unit to the field for a few weeks (never mind to war) requires a surprising amount of logistical planning and training. I remember shortly after 9/11 he had his battalion practice packing their gear to go aboard ship even though they didn't have orders.

It took them 3 tries to get it right and uncovered a whole slew of issues. No one wanted to do it (they thought it was a dumb idea) but after the first exercise there was no more grumbling. The Marines were stunned at how many potential problems they were able to discover and fix. The second time around they wanted to do it.

I think it's always a good idea to get a variety of perspectives on any big change. People say, "Let the troops decide!", as though a PFC or Lance Cpl. has a comprehensive grasp of how changes in policy ripple through a large organization. I don't doubt their perspective is needed b/c this kind of policy change primarily affects junior enlisted personnel but it's staff NCOs and officers who will have to implement major policy changes.

We need their input too.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 5, 2010 01:23 PM

You wrote "We saw this principle in action in September of 2009."

Do you mean "2001?"

Posted by: ma_che62 at February 5, 2010 08:22 PM

Posted by: Foxfier at February 5, 2010 10:03 PM

This is a thoughtful and considered post; but I wish the author had linked to two articles that I recently published (in the American Spectator) about this same topic:

- "Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Repeal"

- Senate Cte. Hearing / SecDef & CJCS Testimony (2 Feb 10)

Here are two other excellent posts about this topic:


Posted by: John R. Guardiano at February 6, 2010 12:48 AM

I would like to know what study of human behavior was used to ascertain that 18-25 year old men and women have the ability to act with common sense when in the company of each other. Even if they are not in each other's company 24/7 they will find ways to hook up and do the one thing that nature made sure they would do. That's with the straight world and they are separated most of the time. Now take the same age group with double the testosterone and put them in contact 24/7 and guess what will happen? My God, can the egg heads and brass be some blind and out of touch with the real world?

Posted by: inspectorudy at February 6, 2010 01:48 AM

Under DADT, the discharge rate may have went up, but one thing people never seem to mention: Most of those discharges were in BASIC TRAINING!!!!

Posted by: Broekster at February 6, 2010 02:11 AM

Cassandra, excellent blog and posts on DADT.

The reality is that the U.S. military needs vast numbers of young heterosexual men to field its forces. Most teenaged males join the military, especially the combat arms, to become men under the training and comradeship of older NCOs and officers, and by serving alongside other men in battle or on other missions. Military culture is inherently male and heterosexual; any objective reading of military history proves this to be the case. Women and gays comprise a very small percentage of soldiers in history.

Therefore, anything which will lessen (or risk lessening) the interest of heterosexual males in military service - such as the perception of the armed forces being pro-gay or insufficiently masculine in character - should be regarded very carefully. Many of the toughest young men in our culture already disdain military service as being feminized, and not tough enough.

Thus, repealing DADT is a very bad idea. Is this fair to gays? No, it isn't - but the military isn't about fairness, it is about fighting and winning wars. No one, including gays, has the absolute right to serve in the armed forces. The services have the ability, upheld by the SCOTUS on many occasions, to accept/reject anyone for any reason, consistent with their mission.

The concerted effort by the gay community to repeal DADT proves that they value their own wants and desires over those of the nation and the military itself; if they placed service above self, they would realize that DADT serves a necessary purpose.

Posted by: Pete at February 6, 2010 02:24 AM

Thank you Cassandra (and C.K.Chesterton) for the clarity my own amorphous objections heretofore lacked. If I had shared my hootch and showers with my female orientees in Viet Nam... okay, explain again why gay shared quarters are good and hetro shared quarters are bad. The difference escapes me.

Posted by: Phil at February 6, 2010 02:39 AM

Thank you, Cassandra, and Pete.

Thoughtful and true answers.
Plain truth and honest integrity is what this nation needs, and what our armed forces deserve from us.

Thank you so very much.

Posted by: Rose at February 6, 2010 03:30 AM

My brother, a Navy pilot, told me that the first ship back from the 1st Gulf War was called the Love Boat. Guess how many women returned pregnant? Command was shocked? You're kidding!
My brother said one of the problems was the resentment on the part of the sailors because the officers had their pick and women felt pressured to have sex with someone to stop the constant whining, if not outright harrassment.
Word is that lesbians are a problem - forming cliques on board and bullying straight women. After hearing stories from a woman who "retired" early after problems with them, I'm against it. They threatened to throw her off a ship in retaliation for something she did that harmed one of "theirs". Then there was the pressure to give sexual favors if women want leave or a cushy job from a lesbian officer.

Posted by: Barbara at February 6, 2010 03:48 AM

Thank you for a thought provoking article and the posted comments as discussion.

I would illustrate the silliness of the political position of the gay lobby. In a party situation with both gays and straights, the conversation about "coming out" emerged. In it, there were advocates for understanding, support and sensitivitiy. When I asked about those formerly gay men who had renounced homosexuality, this forbidden topic brought forth anger at even mentioning the "heresy" that any behavioral or social membrane might actually operate in both directions, and ridicule that somehow being gay was inviolate while being straight was meant as "possibly gay" for the purposes of the "coming out" stance. When homosexuality is better understood than it is today, we suspect we will learn that it is often aggressively sexual and statistically promiscuous when compared to other views and behaviors of sex within the human community.

Sex is too powerful for all folks to think that somehow sixty men in a barracks together will not cause problems between openly gay and straight men.

If this were not so, then the argument would not be about mainstream openly gay men together, but openly mainstreaming all people, male and female, into the same living situations. From my time in basic training so many years ago, I can imagine with certainty that havoc would ensue.

The politicization of homosexuality as some kind of civil rights issue is merely politics, not civil rights. "Don't ask, don't tell" allows homosexuals already to serve in the military by not parading their sexuality. So the only remaining issue is the urge to openly parade their sexuality, which has darn near nothing to do with the military and everything to do with being overtly and "in your face" gay.

Posted by: Siegmund Wagner at February 6, 2010 04:07 AM

As with so many issues of late, too many people who demand their tunnel vision brand of social justice should know better, but are soliciting for things detrimental to the survival of our culture and society.

The military culture is designed to act in time of war. Are the general militant gay population just wanting a larger pool to swim in? They certainly made a living hell for E-harmony with their law suits and bullying. Whatever the persistent forces that would hobble and slow our military services' effectiveness, those PC shrouds must be uncovered and examined. The reversal of the DADT code cannot be looked upon without opening up the subject to intense scrutiny and debate.

Your right to be gay stops at your demand that I have to watch you and accept your sexual behavior as normal. Should you be allowed to bully and demand whatever you want because you are gay? What is the hidden agenda here? What is the next demand going to be?

I very much appreciated the conversation here in trying understand the evidently urgent desire by gays to be openly seen as gay/lesbian in the military. What are we all pretending not to know???? I am against repealing DADT based on what I have read here. What a shame that we have to pussy foot around something that is so obviously going to degrade our military effectiveness!!

Posted by: Chiaroscuro at February 6, 2010 06:43 AM

When General NutCasey said that a loss of diversity as a result of Fort Hood would be even worse than the massacre itself we should have realised that he was just softening us up for the latest sexual diversity push.
The perfect opportunity now exists for Al Qaeda to infiltrate the US military to whatever extent they choose.
Who would risk their career by questioning the loyalty of a gay Muslim?

Posted by: Herman at February 6, 2010 07:31 AM

"Every intelligent person knows that one can see the ground *much* more clearly from atop that ivory tower!"
But would ones feet be on the ground?

Posted by: will opine at February 6, 2010 07:56 AM

Outstanding article and one I will hand on to for future referrence. Always remember we still fight wars with the human non-robot element. Thinking, feeling. And I hope it always stays that way. Hands down we have the best military fighting force the world has ever know!!! If the Brit, Germans, etc have open gays serving now then by all means hurry and sign up now!!! This is nothing but the radical left's attempt to tinker with the military as yet another social experiment. Their agenda is not to improve the military and keep this country strong but to tear it down and completely destroy it. It's part of the plan to replace the hetero with homo, trans, bisexual relationship as normal. So the focus of the military will be on healing hurt feelings instead of getting the bad guys.---- Female retired USAF officer....God Bless Our Troops!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: meezer7251 at February 6, 2010 08:12 AM

It's interesting: in writing this article I considered the argument of other armed forces who allow gays to serve openly.

I did a lot of research, hoping to find official reports on changes in disciplinary matters, HIV infection rate, etc. Interestingly enough, I could not find them.

As I commented above, people love to assert - on no evidence - that fuller integration of women into the military has had no detrimental effect on readiness. As "proof", they cite the absence of any studies concluding that it has!

To which I can only say, "Doesn't it make you wonder when we have a huge problem with deployment pregnancies during the Gulf War and yet we don't see any data - one way or the other - from a war that has lasted 8 years?"

If you don't count a thing, you won't see any "evidence" of a problem and that's exactly how the military has responded to political pressure. To them it's a moot point anyway - they've been told to implement a policy no matter how much it impacts readiness and no good will come from pointing out that the policy is - in fact - harming readiness.

The policy will not be repealed. The only thing that will happen is that they will do a lot of work for no reason and the political correctness Furies will be called down upon them for saying something no one wants to hear.

I'm reminded of that poor General who had the temerity recently to say he was going to prosecute women who get pregnant in theater under the UCMJ. He ended up being forced to apologize for trying to do his job.

So much for the argument that the UCMJ will prevent fraternization and disciplinary problems. Rules are no good if you're only allowed to enforce them selectively.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 6, 2010 08:41 AM

If our nation survives, intact, there will eventually be a backlash to the progressive's push against all things traditional. And a reckoning for the dereliction of duty on the part of the milquetoast leaders/shirkers and opinion shapers who never saw a line that should not be crossed.

The awakening of political activism in the heretofore working and funding apparatus, commonly known as the middle class, gives me hope that I may live long enough to see it.

Posted by: bthun at February 6, 2010 09:21 AM

For those who don't read me all the time, I'd like to clarify something. The preceding comment wasn't meant to disparage the fine work performed by women in the armed forces. In a way, that's sort of the point.

I grew up reading a lot of history and historical fiction. A theme that runs through both real historical accounts and fiction is the woman who wants to fight. She is only able to do so by disguising herself as a man and in most (if not all) such stories she acquits herself honorably.

I think there are several gems of truth in such stories:

1. Rules meant to apply to people in the aggregate aren't always a perfect fit for selected individuals. But there's an important corollary: individual cases make a poor proxy for aggregate behavior.

2. Left to ourselves, the vast majority of us will "be ourselves" in our dealings with others. In the stories I mention, having to pretend to be a man (when in reality one is not) absolutely has an effect on outward behavior. A person in such a situation is more likely to make what I'd call a heroic effort to excel.

I would think that - in general - someone who is only able to serve under some pretense, the exposure of which would result in discharge, has a very powerful incentive not to break the rules. I would also argue that - in general - only folks who have a powerful desire to serve would submit to such terms of service.

3. The concerns I've expressed with regard to women (or gays for that matter) serving have more to do with our inability to honestly confront competing interests.

If we were better at removing emotion from the debate, I think we'd do a better job of balancing these interests. And I think they're both legitimate.

I think every American citizen has a legitimate interest in serving their country, but there are whole classes of people who are denied that privilege every day for various reasons. Every day I see more and more exceptions being made to the rules because some individual or another has complained that "It's not fair to deny me the right to serve!"

I suppose what I'd like to see was some acknowledgment that the military exists to defend this nation, not as some kind of self-actualization project for individuals. Thus, I tend to weigh efficiency and readiness concerns more heavily than social justice or equity concerns.

That doesn't mean the latter aren't very valid and important and that we shouldn't consider them. Just that there ought to be a hierarchy.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 6, 2010 09:25 AM

"...the military exists to defend this nation, not as some kind of self-actualization project for individuals."
< Insert Victor Borge exclamation point >

Posted by: bthun at February 6, 2010 09:30 AM

Lech Walesa arrived in Chicagoland the other day to endorse a man of Polish descent for governor. He lost. Here are a few of the words the simple shipyard worker and former President of Poland said then:
"The U.S. is a superpower. Nobody doubts that. Today they lead the world-militarily. They also lead economically, but they are weak. They don't lead morally and politically anymore. The world has no leadership. The U.S. was the last resort and hope of all nations. Today, we have lost all hope." The further tragedy is that even the churches in our country have lost their way. Perhaps Obama-ayers has served a useful purpose if we can judge from the Tea Party Movement which I see as righteous outrage over the perversion of American principles codified by the Constitution.

Posted by: Wicked Dickie--Virginia at February 6, 2010 10:03 AM

...theme that runs through both real historical accounts and fiction is the woman who wants to fight. She is only able to do so by disguising herself as a man and in most (if not all) such stories she acquits herself honorably.

Not to take away from your broader point, but I only know a few accounts like that -- the one Disney made into Mulan, and the stories of Anne Bonny and Mary Read are examples I can think of offhand. (The latter two are problematic examples, since the reason they were brought aboard in disguise was not to be able to fight, but to satisfy the captain's sexual desire -- in other words, not to avoid breaking rules of the type you are considering here, but precisely as a method of breaking those rules.)

Most of the famous women warriors have fought under their own name and in their own garb. Some of them have inherited their position from a husband or father, but many arose to it through a devotion to expertise and the skills of war. I'm not sure that 'pretending to be men' is something I'd attribute to female success at war; it's not correlated, really. Most of the women and the best of them have been quite openly women.

All that said, the issue of regimentation in a modern military is one that makes these issues highly problematic. A woman of special ability and renown could travel with one of the older sorts of armies and work with them, being respected and honored for her skills. She would have been accorded her own quarters and space, and many other things, precisely because she was special -- and she merited those things for the same reason.

It's not at all clear that we can achieve the same thing on an industrial scale, applying the same rules and disciplines to the women as to the men. The military life as we know it today means that women still have to be given special dispensations, but we no longer wish to admit that's what we're doing. The environment changes, but instead of saying, "It's right that we should change the environment in order to honor this woman who wishes to fight with us," we say, "Of course we're not changing the environment. Of course she won't receive any special treatment, especially not if she gets pregnant; which she won't, because we have regulated away sexuality for all of you. General Order #1!"

You're quite right about that, and the problems it creates. As is Pete, whose remarks are exactly correct.

Posted by: Grim at February 6, 2010 10:03 AM

"Also, Colin Powell isn't the only general who has reversed his opinion on DADT. In January 2007, General John Shalikashvili, who was Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1993 and supported the DADT policy at the time, stated in a New York Times op-ed that he now supports gays serving openly in America's armed forces." Posted by: Craig at February 5, 2010 07:48 AM

Craig, both are retired and will not have to live with the consequences of their decision which, to me, renders their opinion mute.

Posted by: usmc8511 at February 6, 2010 10:10 AM

Grim, I take your point. I think I expressed myself badly :p

I was typing with one eye on the mounting blizzard outside my office window.

I didn't mean that a woman needed to pretend to be a man in order to fight, nor that it was a widespread practice for women to go to war in disguise.

What I meant was that if a woman did this, she created no special problem for the army she traveled with. No special accommodation needed to be made for her because she was female. She could eat and sleep with the men, and, because they thought she was a man, the usual mischief between men and women was not an issue.

Furthermore, unlike a woman who fought openly as a woman, she would be operating under a whole different set of incentives. Her actual behavior would have to be different if she didn't wish to be discovered.

The argument has been made repeatedly that gays are already serving and we don't see the kinds of problems I have said are possible if DADT is repealed.

My point was that it's not exactly a slam dunk to assert that under a completely different incentive structure, people will behave differently.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 6, 2010 10:51 AM

The military life as we know it today means that women still have to be given special dispensations, but we no longer wish to admit that's what we're doing. The environment changes, but instead of saying, "It's right that we should change the environment in order to honor this woman who wishes to fight with us," we say, "Of course we're not changing the environment. Of course she won't receive any special treatment, especially not if she gets pregnant; which she won't, because we have regulated away sexuality for all of you. General Order #1!"

That's something I've heard women in the armed forces complain about. They don't want to be held to a lesser standard because it creates friction and takes away from their genuine accomplishments.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 6, 2010 10:53 AM

One more thought, Grim.

I'm not sure saying that most of the famous female warriors fought under their own names says anything about how many fought in disguise.

After all, if they were successful in avoiding detection (or were killed in battle, as many famous men have been) how would we know they were female?

Posted by: Cassandra at February 6, 2010 10:56 AM

I have truly enjoyed this thread. A Thought on the Ivory Tower and the 'ground.' They see the ground up close, personal and rapidly when they fall from it.

Posted by: Cricket at February 6, 2010 11:10 AM

If they were killed in battle, during the looting of the dead it might have been discovered; it's the sort of thing I'd expect some of the chronicles (like Froissart's, given his penchant for interesting tidbits) to mention. (Something along the line of, 'And many women were found in the looting, who had disguised themselves to help their king carry the war.' Or 'Several women.' Or 'a woman.' But it doesn't appear, that I know of).

It's also problematic because there are certain subconscious things at work, like pheromones. Even if you disguise the body perfectly, these will signal to every man around her that she is a woman. It may take them a while to understand what they are feeling (since pheromones are processed as emotions, rather than as a sense light sight or smell), but it's hard to believe that young men and women could be together very long without figuring out the difference.

Of course, admitting the possibility that some did so and were not killed, we must also accept that we can't then have any evidence. Judging the probability becomes something of an act of faith.

I've been thinking about this broader problem of women wanting to be held to the same standard, but being in a situation where their very existence and presence changes the standard. It seems to me a problem that has no solution. I understand what they want, and why they want it; but I can't see any way in which it can be had.

It's a problem somewhat like the problem of old age: it's understandable not to want to grow old, but there is a very limited range of solutions available. We can ask men to behave differently; we can ask them to learn to feel differently; we can ask them to think differently. But -- to whatever degree those things can be achieved -- those are also accomodations; they are also the institution of a special standard.

More and more, I think there is just no escape. Women are women and not men; and their presence among men changes any situation that had been male-only before. That is not necessarily bad, and may be very good; but it is necessarily so.

If that's right, it means two things. Men have to show how much we honor their genuine accomplishments in spite of the need of this kind of accomodation. Actually, the existence of the accomodation -- which no man fully enjoys -- is one such demonstration. It's not adequate, but it should be appreciated as a sign that men do respect what the women are doing.

The other thing it means is that women have to accept that reality, even though it isn't what they really wanted. Much like the situation with old age, it may be a physical reality more than a moral injustice. For even if you make every moral adjustment you can, each one is an accomodation; each one is a special standard instituted so that the woman can feel more comfortable and appreciated. Every such adjustment is meant to honor the women, but it also makes the women more and more conscious of how differently they really are being treated.

Posted by: Grim at February 6, 2010 11:24 AM


Posted by: AuntKK at February 6, 2010 11:29 AM

I've been thinking about this broader problem of women wanting to be held to the same standard, but being in a situation where their very existence and presence changes the standard. It seems to me a problem that has no solution. I understand what they want, and why they want it; but I can't see any way in which it can be had.

That is exactly what I wanted to express, but failed to. Thank you, Grim.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 6, 2010 11:36 AM

FWIW, "Ivory Tower" was me, being a smart a$$ :p

Posted by: Cassandra at February 6, 2010 11:36 AM

My great pleasure, dear lady. It's a rare treat to be on precisely the same wavelength as you; not that I don't value our disagreements at least as much, for their quality of illumination.

Posted by: Grim at February 6, 2010 11:48 AM

There's a reason men and women tend to think differently :)

That said, it's always nice when we see things the same way.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 6, 2010 12:07 PM

I've been thinking about this broader problem of women wanting to be held to the same standard, but being in a situation where their very existence and presence changes the standard. It seems to me a problem that has no solution. I understand what they want, and why they want it; but I can't see any way in which it can be had.

I don't know about other folks, but I know that what I generally want is to be accepted.

Thing is, acceptance can't be forced-- it's like friendship. You can force kids to play together, but you can't actually force them to be friends.

I realized that I want acceptance after trying to figure out when I was happiest-- it was when I was working with my Geek Group in the Navy. For most of them, I was a geek first, a petty officer second and a woman third.

Folks hunger for acceptance. It's not surprising some folks would try to force the world to give it to them, instead of trying to stumble into it themselves; the surprise is that so very many people are trying to force something like this.

Posted by: Foxfier at February 6, 2010 12:43 PM

I don't know about other folks, but I know that what I generally want is to be accepted. Thing is, acceptance can't be forced-- it's like friendship. You can force kids to play together, but you can't actually force them to be friends...Folks hunger for acceptance. It's not surprising some folks would try to force the world to give it to them, instead of trying to stumble into it themselves; the surprise is that so very many people are trying to force something like this.

Wow. That should be engraved somewhere Foxfier.

As a female working in a male dominated technical field, I've had similar thoughts many times but I don't know if I had that level of clarity.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 6, 2010 12:50 PM

Calls for repeal of DADT are ironic. It looks like the US Army has carried out research that would make enemy combatants "gay" for tactical reasons.

See Below a BBC (London, 2007) story of A US Army research project carried out at US Air Force Wright Laboratory, Wright-Patterson AFB (OH)in 2004.

"'Gay bomb' scoops Ig Nobel award
Pioneering research into a "gay bomb" that makes enemy troops "sexually irresistible" to each other has scooped one of this year's Ig Nobel Prizes.

The awards, founded in 1991, mark achievements that "first make people laugh, and then make them think".

The prize ceremony took place at Harvard University, US.

Genuine Nobel Laureates handed out the much-coveted awards to the winners, who took away no cash, but instead received a hand-made prize, a certificate, and, of course, the glory of such an illustrious win...
Unfortunately, said the organisers, nobody from the US military who carried out the research on chemicals that could prompt homosexual dalliances amongst rival troops (a research project called Harassing, Annoying and "Bad Guy" Identifying Chemicals) attended the ceremony because the study's authors could not be tracked down.

A redacted copy of the research report is available at: US "Non Lethal" Chemical (and Biochemical) Weapons Research:
A Collection of Documents Detailing a Dangerous Program /incapacitants/jnlwdpdf/

I scratch my head in wonderment!

Posted by: Les Livio at February 6, 2010 01:09 PM

Thus, I retire to my ivory foxhole.

Posted by: cpobr at February 6, 2010 06:22 PM

Gassing the enemy army with gay-gas attacks; chemicals that suddenly make the enemy same-sex soldiers take their comrade-in-arms, into their arms; and well, ...sometimes there is romance in war.

Likely it was entrenched warfare, frontline WWI. The Germans supposedly wanted surprise introduction of chemical warfare on their front; and were given a choice of delivery: light puffs from artillery shells into, behind enemy lines; or quick heavy concentration from big compressed bottles of poison gas at the front.

The more(gas)-the-better approach was chosen, and heavy gas concentrations drifted towards the enemy. Here substitute a; love thy comrade-in-arms, gay-gas attack.

But then the winds shifted; and the Kaiser said to the Pvt., "Dah, y'ah want'ah Kaiser roll?".

Posted by: focusoninfinity at February 6, 2010 06:59 PM

Good arguments both sides, though I have a feeling both sides started with their desired conclusion, then found the facts which supported their respective chosen results; vs. starting with facts, and wheresoever they led, to whatever results?

Why not let heterosexuals willing to do so, volunteer to serve with, and in special units where there is no DADT burden on homosexuals? Sort of nice-guy, social liberals, willing to be closet-heterosexuals in such a unit?

Posted by: focusoninfinity at February 6, 2010 07:22 PM

Thanks to the tireless efforts of Mulder, Scully, and those indomitable sleuths of all that is nefarious in the Military-Industrial complexities realm, those Lone Gunmen, we can now cite video evidence of

"A US Army research project carried out at US Air Force Wright Laboratory, Wright-Patterson AFB...

Posted by: J. Edgar Hubris at February 6, 2010 07:40 PM

Your statement that if you know someone is homosexual you can still work with them if you do not hate them is false. As a Christian I would object to working with gays because I am to hate the sin but not the sinner. Put me down as a conscience objector. Just as Doctors who will not do abortions and would rather not practice medicine when forced by law to do so. I simply would not join the military and would not even if drafted. There goes your recruiting of decent Americans for the military. I am a Vietnam veteran that volunteered. I would not had gays been openly in the military.

Posted by: Alnotgore54 at February 7, 2010 01:24 AM


"Hate the sin but not the sinner" isn't in the Bible, so feel free to hate away.


Repealing DADT isn't about "identity politics", its about eliminating a failed policy that does not work.

Two-thirds of military members already know or suspect that there are gays in their units, so the policy has failed to achieve even its most basic goal: to protect morale and cohesion by shielding straight troops from knowledge of gay troops.

The policy has also failed to preserve desperately needed skilled personnel. Since the law's inception, roughly 13,500 gay, lesbian and bisexual service members have been discharged. According to the Government Accountability Office, nearly 800 of them had "critical skills," including more than 60 Arabic speakers.

At the same time, the military has granted an increasing number of "conduct waivers" to ex-convicts and drug abusers to fill slots in a force stretched thin by two wars. Such "conduct waivers" for Army recruits rose from 8,129 in fiscal 2006 to 10,258 in fiscal 2007. For Marine Corps recruits, they increased from 16,969 to 17,413.

According to the military's own studies, the DADT policy (not the presence of gays) is undermining trust and integrity in the force by mandating dishonesty.

Because of all this, Adm. Mullen, the CURRENT chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff says repealing DADT is the right thing to do.

Does he, too, live in an ivory tower?

Posted by: Craig at February 7, 2010 11:19 AM

You keep mentioning one or two military leaders who have come out in favor of repeal.

You studiously avoid mentioning that 1152 general and flag officers (including the CURRENT Commandant of the Marine Corps - or "corpse", as our President pronounces it) have gone on record as opposing the change:


Pete Pace, former Chairman of the JCS, also opposed the change. Since we seem to want to cite military leaders as authority, how much combat experience does Mullen have, compared to Pace and Conway?

You'll note that although I was aware of this long before I wrote this post, I didn't use that bit of information. Cherry picking information to "prove" you're right is not an impressive tactic, Craig.

Especially when it's so easy to smack down.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 7, 2010 11:46 AM

FWIW, I see an enormous difference between refusing to perform an act one considers to be morally objectionable and refusing to work with people who perform acts one considers morally objectionable.

The difference only increases when those acts are not normally committed within the course and scope of one's employment agreement.

The former is - to me, and so long as said acts do not constitute part of one's official duties - completely understandable.

The latter makes very little sense to me, and the vast majority of us would be hard pressed to find employment where all of our co-workers are without sin.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 7, 2010 12:38 PM

This is not about gays abilities to perform their duties. This is about living conditions. If men were quartered with women there is not a guy in the world that will claim he would'nt "look". He may never act on it but he will look. Does any rational person think that gay men will not look ? It has nothing to do with acting on the attraction, it is about the people being looked at. I am perfectly comfortable working with gay men and have for several decades but I would be very uncomfortable living in close quarters with them as would any of my female co-workers feel about living in close quarters with me.
Fix the living arrangements and it may be possible to remove DADT. Maybe ...

Posted by: Jeff at February 7, 2010 01:21 PM

you're ignoring that there's a very good chance a number of the folks thus discharged weren't even homosexual-- I know none of the folks I know who went for it were actually homosexual, they just knew they could escape that way. In contrast, the folks I'm 99% sure were homosexual had no problem keeping it on the LD. (I figure if guys are desperate enough to get caught necking anther guy in bootcamp just to get out, they may as well-- beats throwing themselves down a stairwell, and we don't have to pay their medical bills.)

Regardless- that's the fallacy "appeal to authority;" the other popular claim that the only reason folks can disagree with you is bigotry would be "ad hominem." Which is probably why our Hostess was sticking to observable behavior.

Posted by: Foxfier at February 7, 2010 02:44 PM

Hi Cass!

I should note that for 17 years I was a Chaplain at a Texas county jail. So I have, perhaps, a unique perspective on all kinds of aberrational human behavior.

My friend is a soldier, currently in Af/Pak with his butt in the line of fire. When we were both younger, we both shared the attitude that DADT was too lenient, and that homosexuals should be court-martialed and/or shot at dawn. But we have both grown up in the last 10 or 15 years. I like his new attitude, and it is one that I have adopted have adopted for myself.

If my friend is shot, or blown up (this is possible, he is a sapper) I do not give a rats' ass about the proclivities of the man or woman who puts the bandage on his wounds. I want him/her/it to be GOOD at what he/she/it does. I want him/her/it to be THE VERY BEST THAT THE US HAS. Thats it: period: full stop: end of discussion.

I do not know what 'gay' means, and I don't think that anyone else does either. I do know what 'homosexual' means. The latter term refers to observable human behavior, the former has almost no definition.

A soldier/sailor/airman/marine whose ass is in the line of fire needs to be fixated on that, and not on exchanging bodily fluids. Again: full stop, end of discussion. Whether hetero- or homo-, any person engaging in sexual behavior under combat circumstances should be court-martialed and/or shot. They do not deserve to wear the uniform.

The real question is whether or not a person (of any proclivity) can obey orders. A soldier has no expectation of privacy or sex. His/her sexuality is of NO import. If s/he is ordered to forgo all sexual activities then s/he MUST DO SO, or leave the service. A civilian may engage in all sorts of behaviors--sexual among them. But once they take the Oath--once they put on the uniform, they are NOT civilians any more. They do not belong to themselves. They belong to THE MISSION whether that is carrying a rifle or washing uniforms. If they can not be the professional, they need to be out of the service. A soldier is a high calling, like a Priest, perhaps. If s/he cannot set aside those desires, they just need to be a civilian.

Posted by: Chris at February 7, 2010 03:24 PM

Well, I can't say I've ever thought homosexuals should be punished for their sexual orientation. Ever.

I read somewhere today that if we're going to treat everyone equally in the military we should just do away with separate heads, separate showers, and separate sleeping quarters.

No one who supports ending DADT should have any problem with this because all the arguments they put forward as to why we don't need to worry about billeting people who are sexually attracted to each other in the same space apply equally to heteros, gays, men and women, right?

Everyone's mind will be on their work because everyone will control themselves regardless of billeting, showering and bathroom arrangements.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 7, 2010 03:54 PM

The latter makes very little sense to me...

It might make sense in another context. The US Military Academy at West Point has framed that principle into its longstanding honor code:

"A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do."

The question is whether homosexual behavior is a thing like lying, cheating, and stealing: which, in turn, requires an answer to the question, "Why are those things wrong?"

It is true that lying (bearing false witness) and stealing (thou shalt not) are covered in the Ten Commandments; but I think most of us asked to explain why they are wrong would point to some other answer. You might say that we wouldn't want to be lied to, or stolen from, and therefore we should not do that to others; or you might say that it is impossible to have peace and a trusting community where liars and thieves are tolerated.

If you said the first one, you probably are more tolerant of homosexuality in the service than if you said the second. The first one gives a much wider range to personal opinion about what is right and wrong: as long as it isn't wrong to you, and you'd be happy to be treated that way, you can do X. The second one looks at a less personalized standard: is it good for the social cohesion that makes order and peace possible?

Regardless of which you said, though, it seems reasonable that approach two is the better one for the military. Order and cohesion are much more important there than in other social forms. If homosexuality undermines those things, it is a wrong like lying and stealing -- at least in the military context, it is. The broader society may not need cohesion as much, and may prefer the easier standard.

Posted by: Grim at February 7, 2010 06:19 PM

I do not know what 'gay' means, and I don't think that anyone else does either.

It is a slang term for (and by) those who self-identify primarily by their homosexual tendencies, similar to the term "Jesus Freak" for Christians who self-identify primarily by their outspoken Christian faith.
It is possible to be homosexual without being "gay" in the common parlance, and infact without wishing to consumate the physical attraction towards the same sex. (generally self-identified as SSA, Same Sex Attracted)

Posted by: Foxfier at February 7, 2010 07:12 PM

[first post on this site]
I saw the link to this discussion on American Thinker, and came to add my 2 cents. But I can't improve on Chris's post...very well put. I will add that many soldiers & airmen of my generation don't have a problem with gays in the military (though many do), they just want them to behave professionably and not have the military give them any special treatment. The generation that joined since 9/11 is even more accepting. And like I said on American Thinker, this should be a very low priority thing to worry about when the enemy (the left) controls Washington.

This seems like a great blog...definately going to bookmark it.

Posted by: Golem at February 7, 2010 07:40 PM


The 1152 people you cite do not have any research on their side that proves DADT is some sort of success or needs to be continued.

In fact, in listing their reasons for dissapproval under the heading of "Military Life is Difficult Enough" they say:

"We don’t need a study commission to know that resulting tensions in conditions offering
little or no privacy would increase the stress and difficulties of daily military life."

The reason they "don't need" one is because there hasn't been one that proves their case.

They can't point to any other country's military where gays serve openly and show what a dismal failure that policy has been.


If, as you say, people are "playing gay" to get out of serving, that is all the more reason to repeal DADT and close this ridiculous loophole.

Also, since you were 99% certain that some of the folks you were serving with were homosexual, what would have been wrong with being 100% certain?

Posted by: Craig at February 8, 2010 07:17 AM

You cite the opinion of two general/flag officers (one a Naval officer with no combat experience) as reason to end DADT and that's "persuasive"?

I cite the opinions of 1152 general and flag officers (with more aggregated experience that you can begin to count) who want to keep it in place and you dismiss their opinions AND their experience.


Posted by: Cassandra at February 8, 2010 07:37 AM

OK. Let's take a look at your 1,152 guys' "opinions":

1. Concerns Regarding Recruiting, Retention, and Readiness

Based on one single voluntary response poll conducted by the Military Times, 2000 subscibers responded and 1160 (58%) think DADT shouldn't be repealed. The cosigners think this should be very significant, despite the fact that voluntary response polls, in general, are not significant of anything.

Also, please pay no attention to the voluntary response poll the MT did in December, 2008 that showed 60% of 1,900 respondants think Obama sucks. This is a completely non-partisan issue unrelated to that poll. The fact that the results are about the same is purely coincidental.

2. Military Life is Difficult Enough

New non-discrimination policies would have to be implemented and we don't need no stinkin' research or evidence to prove that stress would increase, we just know it will.

3. “Zero Tolerance” = Intolerance of Dissent

The military will have to implement mandatory “diversity training” programs and Chaplains will leave and full imposition of the gay agenda on our military ultimately would affect all institutions of American life... because we say so.

4. Unconvincing Arguments for Repeal

We can make up the losses from homosexual discharges by recruiting more ex-felons and drug-traffikers and no one has explained how repeal of the 1993 law would IMPROVE "good order and discipline". We just really, really, really know it will get worse. Really.

Besides, why should we have to emulate other industrialized countries who have openly gay people serving in their military? And so what if all of the stuff we say we're concerned about hasn't happened anywhere else gays are allowed to serve. We can still kick their butts any day of the week, so there.

Color me remarkably unimpressed.

Posted by: Craig at February 8, 2010 11:54 AM

Also, since you were 99% certain that some of the folks you were serving with were homosexual, what would have been wrong with being 100% certain?

Posted by: Craig at February 8, 2010 07:17 A

You can't figure out the difference between being pretty sure someone wants to screw you and having them hit on you in the shower?

Posted by: Foxfier at February 8, 2010 12:03 PM

They can't point to any other country's military where gays serve openly and show what a dismal failure that policy has been.

The Dutch Army -- although it's rather doubtful that anyone in NATO still considers it a military organization.

Posted by: BillT at February 8, 2010 12:23 PM


Learn to read, please. I linked to the 1152 FLAG AND GENERAL OFFICERS (which is NOT the same as the Military Times poll).

We can make up the losses from homosexual discharges by recruiting more ex-felons and drug-traffikers

I'm about to show you how many have been discharged under DADT. It's interesting information.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 8, 2010 12:38 PM


your link:


has a link called "Issues Overview" which leads to here:


It is there you will find the 4 headings I used in my comment above.

Posted by: Craig at February 8, 2010 12:51 PM


I believe a single code of conduct for all personnel would have to be applied.

I am sure "getting hit on in the shower" would be deemed inappropriate behavior, as it would be right now.

Posted by: Craig at February 8, 2010 12:58 PM


Here's a letter from a Dutch soldier:

"Major Peter Kees Hamstra has been in the Dutch army for almost thirty years and for two thirds of that time he's been openly gay. In 1974 the Dutch armed forces was the first in the world to make it possible to serve and to be openly homosexual and since that time just a handful of other countries have followed suit.

Major Peter Kees Hamstra:
"My sexuality is not an issue"

Major Hamstra is now the chairman of the organization for homosexuality in the Dutch services.
"My sexuality is not an issue,"
he says. And, in fact, if someone was being openly discriminatory towards him they stand the chance of being disciplined or even dismissed.
In fact, Major Hamstra is the archetypal modern Dutch gay man. He's a respected army officer, married (to a man of course as the Netherlands was also the first country to legalise same sex marriages) and who is not afraid to take his partner to official army functions.

However, there are occasional problems. When serving abroad in Bosnia and Iraq he was forced to close the closet door shut once again. Not from his Dutch colleagues but from his peace-keeping allies. The Netherlands has always been a pioneering country for equal rights but that doesn't mean to say it rubs off on others."

This letter doesn't seem to indicate failure. I wonder which peacekeeping allies had the difficulties he's referring to when he was stationed in Bosnia and Iraq? Hmmmm.

Posted by: Craig at February 8, 2010 01:08 PM

This letter doesn't seem to indicate failure.

No, but this does:


Posted by: Cassandra at February 8, 2010 01:32 PM

I am sure "getting hit on in the shower" would be deemed inappropriate behavior, as it would be right now.

As is the XO sleeping with the (married) Protestant Chaplain. Anyone who complained would just be accused of bigotry-- oh, wait, that's exactly what is being used against those who disagree with your view right now, no matter how many facts they offer.

Posted by: Foxfier at February 8, 2010 01:38 PM

you offer a letter from ONE guy whose preferences are being catered to, who says it's peachy-keen because anyone who discriminates will be booted shows...um... what, exactly?

Especially as BillT's comment indicates that the Dutch military isn't any great shakes as a military, as opposed to a social organization?

Posted by: Foxfier at February 8, 2010 01:43 PM


I am not accusing anyone of bigotry at all.

I don't understand the reference you are making about the XO sleeping with the (married) Protestant Chaplain, though. I think you'd better have all of your duckies in a row if you were willing to make that allegation today.

I don't believe it would be a harder road to hoe if DADT was repealed.

Posted by: Craig at February 8, 2010 02:08 PM

ROW to hoe. It's a farming expression.

The fact that you've got no idea what I'm talking about is part of why you really shouldn't be claiming that everything will be hunky-dorry with a magical 'code of conduct' fix.

Cassandra points out X, Y and Z real life examples why it won't work; I offer first hand information left right and center on why it simply won't work, and point out that those abusing the policy are still better than the alternative. BillT points out an example of it not working when implemented. Others point out that it's simply stupid to treat homosexuals as if they wouldn't have the same troubles heterosexual men and women would, if forced to bunk together.

And there you stand, insisting that we're all wrong, failing to understand the points we make and blithely ignoring the arguments that are actually made as you cruise on to declare victory.

Posted by: Foxfier at February 8, 2010 03:12 PM

FWIW, I've posted the DADT discharge information I mentioned earlier.

I find it interesting that Craig continually posts anecdotal "evidence". Two senior leaders for repeal are authoritative but 1152 (!) who oppose repeal are dismissed; one Dutch guy - who just happens to be in charge of "the organization for homosexuality in the services" states that it hasn't been a problem (how does he know whether it has been a problem for anyone else? Is there any data to back up his assertion that there has been no impact on readiness?) and we're supposed to accept his word, too.

What it comes down to is that Craig considers the opinions of anyone who agrees with him to be good arguments. The opinions of anyone who disagrees with him, of course, are ridiculous and should be ignored - as should any data that contradicts the narrative.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 8, 2010 03:22 PM


I apologize for misstating "row to hoe".
I had no idea it would bother you so.

What I said was, your situation regarding the XO and a married chaplain would be hard to deal with under any normal circumstance.

What I don't understand is how would DADT's repeal make it any more difficult?

Posted by: Craig at February 8, 2010 04:15 PM

Here's a 1992 article I found about gays in the Dutch Army:

"Take Holland, where an estimated 12,000 soldiers--10 percent of the total force--are gay. Holland's government considered homosexuality grounds for dismissal until 1974, when the Association of Dutch Homosexuals convinced the minister of defense that gays posed no threat to national security. Nevertheless, gays could still legally be passed over for promotion simply because of their sexual orientation. But in 1986, Rene Holtel, then a major, was told by his commander that though he was an excellent officer, "he wouldn't want me to rise in rank because I was gay." Holtel went to his superiors and fought the camouflage ceiling, which was abolished in 1987, leading to the birth of the Foundation for Homosexuality in the Military, which Holtel, now elevated to lieutenant colonel, chairs.

Holland's success stems from its effort to educate soldiers. Already required of officers and noncommissioned officers in the air force, and soon to be mandatory in the army and navy, is a four-day course known as Aeen Kwastie van Kyken, which roughly translates to "It's in the eye of the beholder." The seminar is designed to teach sensitivity toward minorities in the military, in particular women, blacks, and gays. Apparently it works. Army doctors, priests, and psychiatrists will soon be required to complete coursework that will enable them to offer guidance to soldiers struggling with the decision to "come out."

I still don't see a "failure" of implementing the openly gay policy here, but I'll keep looking.

Posted by: Craig at February 8, 2010 04:29 PM

This letter doesn't seem to indicate failure. I wonder which peacekeeping allies had the difficulties he's referring to when he was stationed in Bosnia and Iraq? Hmmmm.

Well, in Bosnia, he was assigned to UNPROFOR, so he was with Germans and Italians, and in Iraq, he was, in all probability, stationed with Brits and/or Bulgarians down around Basra.

As for failure, the Dutch Peacekeepers were assigned the job of protecting the inhabitants of Srebrenica from the Serbs. Google the Srebrenica Massacre both to enlighten yourself on recent history and to see how *effective* the Dutch military was at preventing every male inhabitant of that city from being killed.

"Hmmmm" your own se'f.

Posted by: BillT at February 8, 2010 09:17 PM


Do you think teh gays in the Dutch Army caused them to fail in their mission?

Posted by: Craig at February 9, 2010 05:46 AM


Germans and Italians have openly gay personnel, so why would that be an issue with them?

Bulgarians are the only ones on your list that don't acknowledge homosexuality, so I'll give you that one.

Posted by: Craig at February 9, 2010 05:52 AM

Do you think teh gays in the Dutch Army caused them to fail in their mission?

You stated "They can't point to any other country's military where gays serve openly and show what a dismal failure that policy has been." There were a number of reasons the Dutch failed in their mission at Srebrenica -- which is the reason a nation's military should not be used as guinea pigs for social experimentation.

Germans and Italians have openly gay personnel, so why would that be an issue with them?

Beats me -- ask Major Hamstra why they had a problem with him.

Posted by: BillT at February 9, 2010 09:15 PM