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Religious Tolerance logo

Gays in the U.S. Military - DADT policy

Modifying or repealing the "Don't ask,
don't tell" policy: 2010-DEC-01 to DEC-15

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Continued from a previous file

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2010-DEC-01: Military study released:

The findings of, and reactions to, the study by the Comprehensive Review Working Group were released.

Their main findings were:

  1. " When asked about how having a Service member in their immediate unit who said he or she is gay would affect the unit’s ability to 'work together to get the job done,' 70% of Service members predicted it would have a positive, mixed, or no effect."

  2. "When asked 'in your career, have you ever worked in a unit with a co-worker that you believed to be homosexual,' 69% of Service members reported that they had."

  3. " When asked about the actual experience of serving in a unit with a co-worker who they believed was gay or lesbian, 92% stated that the unit’s 'ability to work together' was 'very good,' 'good,' or 'neither good nor poor'."

More information on the Working Group's study.

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2010-DEC-03: Statement by Senator John McCain (R-AZ):

In a statement before the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing concerning DADT, Senator McCain commented on the Working Group's report:

"What I want to know, and what it is the Congress’s duty to determine, is not can our armed forces implement a repeal of this law, but whether the law should be repealed. Unfortunately, that key issue was not the focus of this study. And let me say again just to be clear: I am not saying we should hold a referendum among our military on this issue and leave the decision in their hands. That is not how our system works, nor should it. What I am saying, and I repeat, is that leadership means knowing what your subordinates think, including on whether they think the current law in this case should be repealed or not. For that is the fundamental question that must be answered by Congress – not by the President or the Courts, but by Congress. And it is a question that must be answered carefully, deliberately, and with proper consideration for the complexity of this issue and the gravity of the potential consequences for our military and the wars in which we are engaged. ..."

"As we move forward with our discussion on this matter, I hope everyone will put aside political motives and agendas. I hope everyone, on both sides, will refrain from questioning people’s integrity. And I hope everyone will recognize that this debate is focused not on broader social issues being debated in our society at large, but on our military and its effectiveness. On this matter, I look forward to hearing the views of our witnesses." 8

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2010-DEC-09: Senate repeal of DADT blocked again:

By a 57-40 vote, the Senate narrowly failed to get the required 60 votes to terminate a Republican filibuster and move ahead with a vote on a military appropriations bill in which a bill repealing the "don't ask, don't tell" policy was embedded. Although a strong majority of American adults favor repeal of the policy, other controversial amendments to the larger bill resulted in a vote falling short of 60 votes in favor -- the number necessary to end discussion and proceed with an up-down vote the measure. In spite of very strong support from the general public, and a significant majority of Senators approving the bill, the Senate was paralyzed by its own voting rules.

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2010-DEC-14: Opposition to the repeal of DADT within the Marines:

Homophobia, defined as a preference to discriminate against lesbians, gays and bisexuals, appears to be highest among the Marines.

Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos warned that a repeal of DADT could cause Marines to be distracted in Afghanistan. He said:

"I don't want to lose any Marines to a distraction. ... I don't want to have any Marines I'm visiting at Bethesda (Naval Hospital) with no legs as a result of any type of distraction. So that's where I come down on this."

General Amos apparently means that ending DADT would distract some heterosexual Marines. Further, the level of this distraction would outweigh the lessening of distraction among homosexual and bisexual soldiers who would no longer worry about being expelled from the service.

He commented on the demands of intense firefights in Afghanistan:

"That is a unique experience. And when that happens there is no margin for distraction ... There's no margin for thinking about anything other than working as a cohesive unit"

"When your life hangs on a line on the intuitive behavior of the young man, and this is predominately what we are talking about, a young man who sits to your right and your left, you don't want anything distracting them. So when I say they are like an amoeba it means they flow and they think alike. I mean that in the most positive sense. They live and breathe with one another to the point where they know precisely what the other is going to do. They don't have to ask. They don't say 'cover me.' They don't say do this, do that, it just happens." 1

In contrast to General Amos' beliefs:

"Adm. Mike Mullen and Marine Gen. James Cartwright, the chairman and vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, respectively, have said the fear of disruption is overblown. They note the Pentagon's finding that 92 percent of troops who believe they have served with a gay person saw no effect on their units' morale or effectiveness. Among Marines in combat roles who said they have served alongside a gay person, 84 percent said there was no impact." 2

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2010-DEC-15: Stand-alone DADT bill is passed by the House:

On 2010-DEC-10, Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) and Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) crafted a stand-alone DADT bill separated from the larger military appropriations bill. They appear to believe that they have the 60 votes necessary to pass the bill. Senate majority leader Harry Reid allegedly promised to fast-track the bill to a full vote in the Senate. 3

The stand-alone bill was sponsored in the House by Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-PA). On 2010-DEC-15, the House voted on the stand-alone DADT bill and passed it 250 to 175. !5 Republicans voted for the bill; 15 Democrats voted against it. This 75 vote margin is larger than a similar House bill in May when a DADT bill was embedded in the annual defense authorization bill. President Obama said that ending DADT:

"... is not only the right thing to do, it will also give our military the clarity and certainty it deserves. We must ensure that Americans who are willing to risk their lives for their country are treated fairly and equally by their country."

Majority Leader Hoyer said:

"It's time to end a policy of official discrimination that has cost America the service of some 13,500 men and women who wore our uniform with honor. It's time to stop throwing away their service - their willingness to die for our country - because of who they are."

Rep. Murphy said:

"The ball is now in the Senate's court and I urge our senators of both parties to pass this bill and finally dismantle 'don't ask, don't tell,' once and for all."

On another occasion, Murphy, who is a veteran of the Iraq War, said:

"The reason that we need to act, the sense of urgency is because our country is fighting two wars right now. And that our troops, who are in harm's way, are stretched so thin, and it makes no sense why we are throwing out able-bodied men and women because they happen to be gay."4

Many gay rights groups, including the Center for American Progress and the Log Cabin Republicans issued a joint statement saying that the House vote:

"... provides another resounding indication that 'don't ask, don't tell' can and should be repealed legislatively this year."

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates asked the Senate to pass the bill so that the Defense Department could:

"... carefully and responsibly manage a change in this policy, instead of risking an abrupt change resulting from a decision in the courts." 5

Jonathan Capehart of the Washington Post wrote:

"During debate, Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) said he opposed repeal of DADT because it would 'increase the risk on our soldiers in a time of war.' Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA) said the House should not 'put them into further jeopardy.' And various other House Republicans decried the move to end DADT as an 'experiment' being conducted on the armed forces by liberals with a social agenda. No. The concerted efforts to block repeal is a dangerous Republican experiment that pits Congress versus the courts."

"If Congress doesn't act, the courts will. And they won't care about Defense Secretary Robert Gates's plea for discretion to implement an orderly transition away from DADT. That makes sense since courts are about the immediate end of harm to the aggrieved. If Congress, especially the pro-military Republican Party, truly cares about the armed forces, it will ensure that their leadership -- not a judge -- is giving the orders."6

Meanwhile, a new Washington Post-ABC News poll indicates that almost 77% of Americans, 86% of Democrats, 74% of Republicans, 74% of Independents, 70% of white evangelicals and 84% of NOTAS (None of the above/persons with no religious affiliation) support an end to the DADT policy. 7

The only groups that oppose the end of DATA appear to be fundamentalist para-church organizations of various religions, and Republican members of Congress. Both of these groups seem to be suffering a major disconnect from the mood of American adults. All of the fundamentalist organizations that we have monitored are solidly in favor of a retention of DADT. 93% of the Republican members in the House -- all but 15 representatives -- voted against the stand-alone bill. More details

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The story continues.....

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Charley Keyes, "Marine commandant repeats his opposition to scrapping DADT," CNN, 2010-DEC-14, at:
  2. Anne Falherty, "Senate advances bill to lift military gay ban," Associated Press, 2010-DEC-18, at:
  3. "Lieberman and Collins Introduce Bipartisan DADT Repeal Bill,", 2010-DEC-11, at:
  4. Lauren Seifert, "Rep. Patrick Murphy: Momentum in the Senate for DADT Repeal," CBS News, 2010-DEC-15, at:
  5. Ed. O'Keefe, "House votes again to end 'don't ask, don't tell'," Washington Post, 2010-DEC-15, at:
  6. Jonathan Capehart, "DADT repeal: Over to the Senate,"Washington Post, 2010-DEC-15, at:
  7. Ed. O'Keefe & Jon Cohen, "Most back repealing 'don't ask, don't tell,' poll says," Washington Post, 2010-DEC-15, at:
  8. "Senator McCain’s Opening Statement at the Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing," 2010-DEC-03, at:

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Copyright © 2010 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2010-MAY-25
Latest update: 2010-DEC-19
Author: B.A. Robinson

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