Copyright © 2005 Alliance for National Defense. All rights reserved
ISSUE: Sexual orientation in the military service. Specifically, Public Law 103-160, 10 USC Section 654, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”.
Since the enactment of DADT, over 11,000 service members have been removed from the service for sexual orientation. Over 30% of those have been women (Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, “Conduct Unbecoming Report”, 2002). Because women make up about 15% of the active force, it is clear that the impact of DADT falls more heavily upon women in the service.
The repeal of DADT is a readiness issue. The Washington Post reported in February 2006 that the associated cost of the first decade of DADT was $364 million to recruit and train service members to replace those discharged under DADT. Some of the officers and enlisted personnel discharged had special skills such as Arabic speakers who are difficult to replace.
Gay men and lesbians in the military have to deny their sexual orientation in order to serve. They live with the personal fear that someone will “out” them and they would be separated from the armed forces. A few homosexual service members have been allowed to serve openly. Colonel Margarethe Cammermeyer served as an openly gay person in the Washington State National Guard after winning reinstatement through the courts. LT Steve May, an Arizona state legislator, continued to serve in the USAR after his comments about his sexual orientation on the Arizona House floor were reported to the Army.
Currently, twenty six nations allow gays to serve openly in their militaries. They include Australia, Austria, Belgium , Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. In particular, it must be noted that Israel has allowed gays to openly serve in its military since 1983 and it has reported no adverse effect.
Current polls of service members indicate that there is far less resistance to serving with gays than in the past. Seventy-three percent of military members are comfortable with lesbians and gays in the service. Nearly one in four service members reports knowing someone in their unit who is gay. (Zogby International survey conducted December 18, 2006)
In August, 2003, former President Bill Clinton wrote, “It was my view then (1992), and now, that discrimination is unfair, and it unfairly restricts the talent pool available to the military—and that diminishes our security.”
Recently, General John M. Shalikashvili (USA, ret.), former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called for a change in policy, implemented in a way to reduce any social impact on the services. He said, “I now believe that if gay men and lesbians served openly in the United States military, they would not undermine the efficacy of the armed forces.”
With the United States currently involved in an extended conflict, there is a great need for quality individuals to serve in the military. By rescinding the DADT policy and allowing openly gay and lesbians personnel to serve there would be a larger, recruitable pool to draw upon and would reduce the numbers of individuals involuntarily removed each year. Current existing regulations are sufficient to maintain good order and discipline should homosexuals be allowed to serve openly in the U. S. military.
DADT is legislatively supported discrimination which has no place in our nation. AND calls upon the administration to work with the Congress to repeal DADT and allow gays and lesbians to serve openly in the U. S. military.
The Alliance for National Defense provides educational material on the contributions of women in the military and related national security issues to legislators, decision makers, educators, and military members on this and other issues.
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