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

Intro: The military's trend towards equality.
Concerns about gays and lesbians serving

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Past changes in the military leading towards equality:

The U.S. Armed Forces have, to their credit, often led the rest of the country in the field of human rights:

  • The military was once racist. However, shortly after the end of World War II, they abandoned their policy of racial segregation. This was at a time when many governments, groups, organizations, and individuals in the rest of the country heavily discriminated against Blacks.

  • The military was once sexist. They started to end their discrimination against women in all but certain hazardous classifications, at a time when women were widely discriminated in employment. Today, almost the only areas in the U.S. where women are openly discriminated against are some conservative religious groups, like the Roman Catholic Church, Southern Baptist Convention, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Orthodox Judaism, Islam, etc.

However, the military remains homophobic. An act of Congress requires them to maintain a policy called "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT). It allows a lesbian, gay or bisexual servicemember to remain in the military as long as they keep their sexual orientation secret and are not detected engaging in same-sex sexual conduct.

According to U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips' ruling that declared DADT unconstitutional:

"The Act provides that any member of the U.S. Armed Forces who engages in homosexual conduct is subject to discharge unless the servicemember is able to demonstrate that he or she has no propensity to engage in 'homosexual conduct.' Under the Act, homosexual conduct includes:

  • sexual acts with persons of the same sex,
  • admissions that one is homosexual or bisexual, and
  • attempts to marry a person of the same sex."
Currently, in excess of 75% of American adults favor an end to this discrimination against gays, lesbians, and bisexuals in employment.

When a service member is outed as lesbian, gay or bisexual, (or outs themselves) if they don't fight the expulsion, they may receive an honorable discharge. If they fight it, they may receive either a dishonorable discharge of a "general under honorable conditions" discharge. Both would result in a total loss of all benefits. Trying to obtain future employment when in civilian life would be much more difficult.

The U.S. is one of the few NATO members to exclude homosexuals and bisexuals from their armed forces. The other countries have successfully ended discrimination with few if any problems. However, the American situation is different because of the country's high percentage of fundamentalist and other evangelical Christians who invest a great deal of effort to oppose equal opportunities for sexual minorities.

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Concerns expressed about gays and bisexuals openly serving in the military:

There are a few concerns that have been expressed over allowing gays and lesbians to openly serve:

bullet It could harm unit cohesion and morale.

bullet Conservative parents may not allow their children to join a "gay military."

bullet Straight service personnel will not feel comfortable showering with homosexuals and bisexuals.

bullet A Military Times poll found that up to 23% of troops said that they would not re-enlist if DADT is repealed.

Looming on the horizon is the matter of transsexuals who wish to serve in the military.

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Webmaster's note:

Scanning the news media about the military's DADT policy shows that agencies that are opposed to equality for LGBT persons as well as those who support equality are heavily biased. Each group reports only part of the news. Few if any report elements that contradict their position on human rights for sexual minorities.

We deserve better from these agencies. In the meantime, it is important for the public to carefully monitor a range of media outlets in order to piece together a balanced picture.

Alternately, of course, they could wait until this website gets around to reporting the news. ;-)

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Site navigation:

Home > "Hot" topics > Homosexuality & Bisexuality > Challenges > DADT > here

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Copyright © 2000 to 2010 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2000-MAY-25
Latest update: 2010-SEP-11
Author: B.A. Robinson

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