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Gays in the U.S. Military: Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT) policy

2012-SEP: Impact of the repeal, 1 year later

Part 2

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In this essay, LGB refers to Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals.

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Continued from a previous essay

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2012-SEP-20: DADT -- positive comments one year after repeal (Cont'd):

In their article on SEP-16, 1 USA Today continues:

"Yet the clear consensus is that repeal has produced far more joy and relief than dismay and indignation. There's vivid evidence in photographs that have rocketed across cyberspace, such as the military contingent marching in San Diego's gay pride parade and Marine Sgt. Brandon Morgan leaping into the arms of his boyfriend after returning from six months in Afghanistan."

"Tens of thousands of people clicked the 'like' button for the photo on Facebook, and Morgan acknowledged it was 'a great moment in history'."

There are some complaints by conservative Christians that their personal religious freedoms are being infringed upon. But it turns out to be not their religious freedom in the usual sense of the word: it has traditionally meant freedom of belief, of religious practice, of religious assembly, freedom to proselytize, etc. Instead, they are referring to the second meaning added in recent years to the term "religious freedom:" the freedom to denigrate and oppress women, members of the LGBT community, and other minorities.

USA Today describes some specific events that could not have happened before the repeal of DADT: 1

  • During 2011-DEC, the USS Oak Hill returned after a 80 day training session at sea. Apparently one sailor is chosen by raffle to be allowed to have the "first kiss" at dockside. Petty Officer 2nd Class Marissa Gaeta purchased 50 tickets! Not surprising, she and her partner, Petty Officer 2nd Class Citliac Snell, won the raffle. The event was well received by others at the scene. The photo of the kiss was viewed by 1.5 million people on You Tube. 2

  • During 2012-JUN, the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was bent out of shape somewhat. This is the law that forbids the federal government from recognizing the relationships of same-sex couples. The military permitted Air Force Tech Sergeant Erwynn Umali and his partner to be civil unionized on the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey. A Navy chaplain conducted the ceremony.

  • Tammy Smith became the first openly lesbian general in the U.S. military. Tracey Hepner, her wife, pinned the star on her uniform during the ceremony, as opposite-sex spouses have done for decades.

Same-sex couples are still discriminated against when compared to the treatment that opposite-sex couples in the military receive, in areas such as medical coverage, housing arrangements, travel allowances, and other benefits. These may be equalized in the future.

Elain Donnelly of the Center for Military Readiness still opposes the appeal of DADT. She said that President Obama:

"... has recklessly used the armed forces for unprecedented social experimentation."

She is pleased with a plank in the National Republican Convention's platform which promises to review personnel policies in the military and correct any problems. 1

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2012-SEP-20: DADT -- negative comments one year after repeal:

On the other hand, the Family Research Council (FRC) -- labeled by the Southern Poverty Law Center in late 2010 as a "hate group" because of its false statements about the LGBT community -- takes a very dim view of the repeal of DADT. They are particularly concerned about the threat of the repeal to religious liberty.

The Pentagon’s Comprehensive Review Working Group (CRWG) stated in 2010-NOV:

"... that 'those who are opposed to ‘open’ service on well-founded moral or religious grounds' should be assured that 'their views and beliefs are not rejected,' adding that 'we cannot and should not expect individual Service members to change their personal religious or moral beliefs about homosexuality'."

Peter Sprigg, writing in the FRC blog, said that:

"The Palm Center reports cases in which statements disapproving of homosexuality were squelched with phrases like, 'their conduct improved,' 'they were willing to be professional,' and 'he quickly backed down.' This suggests that the 'don’t tell' mandate has now been shifted to those who disapprove of homosexual conduct." 3

The problem here is that some servicemembers sincerely believe what their faith group teaches -- that same-gender sexual behavior is condemned by God, is an moral abomination, and perhaps that it should be criminalized. A similar situation happened in the 1940s when the military was racially integrated. Some religious conservatives objected at the time because of their faith group's teaching that God intended that persons of different races must remain separated, and that positions of authority should be restricted to white servicemembers. That conflict has dissipated over the last six decades, and very few Americans today would wish to return to a racially segregated military. Similarly, when many restrictions against women serving equally in the military were lifted, some servicemembers were troubled because of their faith's teaching that women should be restricted to specific roles in the church, family, military, and elsewhere. Decades later, some Americans are still in favor of prohibiting women serving in the more dangerous military roles, even though such a policy would limit women's potential for promotion because of their lack of combat experience.. The Center for Military Readiness is the main national organization promoting this belief.

Chaplain (Colonel Retired) Ron Crews, executive director of the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, said:

"The American armed forces exist to defend our nation, not as social experiment lab in which our troops serve as human subjects. While many will ignore the negative impacts, or pretend that they don't exist, threats to our troops' freedom are mounting."

Colonel Crews cited some examples: [Webmaster's notes are shown within brackets]

  • "Senior military officials have allowed personnel in favor of repeal to speak to media while those who have concerns have been ordered to be silent. [I suspect that this is typical military behavior whenever servicemembers want to speak against military policies.]

  • Two Airmen were publicly harassed in a Post Exchange food court as they were privately discussing their concerns about the impact of repeal. [I suspect that this type of event often occurs whenever a discriminatory policy is abandoned, whether it was based on racial discrimination in the 1040's, gender discrimination more recently or sexual orientation discrimination in 2012].

  • A chaplain was encouraged by military officials to resign his commission unless he could 'get in line with the new policy,' demonstrating no tolerance for that chaplain's religious viewpoint. [Chaplains are all sponsored by their faith group but are expected to provide support for servicemembers of all faiths and none. In this case, the Chaplain is free to hold whatever beliefs that he wishes, as long as he treats the servicemembers in his unit equally. He apparently was unwilling to do that]

  • At an officer training service school, a male service member sexually harassed another male service member through text messages, emails, phone calls and in-person confrontations. The harassing male insisted the two would 'make a great couple.' The harassed serviceman reported the harassment, but the command failed to take disciplinary action. [Giving the harassing service member a cease-and-desist order might have been done, while disciplinary action might have been held in reserve if it was needed. That seems reasonable]

  • A chaplain was threatened with early retirement, and then reassigned to be more 'closely supervised,' because he had expressed concerns with the policy change, again demonstrating no tolerance for that chaplain's religious viewpoint. [If all he/she did was to express concerns then this would seem to be excessively intrusive treatment by the military. If he refused to adapt to the new requirements of his/her job then it might have been an excessively intrusive response.]

  • Service members engaged in homosexual behavior protested an Army school's open doors policy for all students that prohibited the closing of room doors for sexual purposes. The protesters were upset because they claimed that they had a right to participate in sexual behavior with their same-sex roommates. [It would seem reasonable for servicemembers to make a simple request to change the policy so that they could have privacy. If they obnoxiously demanded a change in the policy, then that would seem to be excessive.]

  • A senior chaplain was stripped of his authority over the chapel under his charge because, in accordance with federal law, he proclaimed the chapel as a "sacred space" where marriage or marriage-like ceremonies would only be between one man and one woman. [He appears to have tried to overlay army policy with one of his own creation. The military's response may have been warranted in this case.]

  • Same-sex ceremonies have been performed at military chapels, including one at Fort Polk, La., a state that constitutionally defines marriage as one man and one woman. [Webmaster's note: The "ceremonies" were probably same-sex commitment rituals with spiritual and religious content, but would have been without legal significance.]

  • The Navy has allowed sailors openly engaged in homosexual behavior to choose their bunkmates. [This would seem to be a good policy, because to assign bunkmates randomly would inevitably pair up gay service members with many heterosexual who felt uncomfortable having a gay bunkmate.]

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This topic continues in the next essay

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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. "Furor fades a year after military's gay ban lifted," USA Today, 2012-SEP-16, at: http://www.freep.com/
  2. "Navy first: Same-sex couple share first kiss at homecoming," You Tube, posted 2011-DEC-21, at: http://youtu.be/
  3. Peter Sprigg, "A Year After Repeal, Homosexuals Exploit Military to Advance Social Agenda," Family Research Council, 2012-SEP-20, at: http://www.frcblog.com/
  4. Michelle Garcia, "11 Firsts: Major Milestones After The Repeal of 'Don't Ask Don't Tell'," The Advocate, 2012-SEP-18, at: http://www.advocate.com/
  5. Alex Murashko, "DADT Repeal One Year Later: Is US Military Better or Worse?," Christian Post, 2012-SEP-22, at: http://www.christianpost.com/

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Copyright © 2012 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2012-SEP-17
Latest update: 2012-SEP-23

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