The Potential Dangers of Repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Cannot Be Ignored


After months of disappointment, President Barack Obama may finally appease jilted gay supporters in the days to come by advancing the repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.  At the Daily Beast, Anthony Woods, a nine-year veteran discharged for coming out of the closet, celebrates the end of “this bigoted policy”:

Right now, when you ask Americans if gays and lesbians should be allowed to serve openly in the military, nearly eight out of 10 support it. Presumably, it’s because most of us don’t see the value in spending hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to investigate and dismiss almost 14,000 patriotic men and women simply because of their sexual orientations. According to some estimates, this cost rises to a staggering $1.3 billion when you include the cost of training and recruiting them.

Meanwhile, zealots from the Family Research Council and so-called Center for Military Readiness are ginning up fictitious warnings of a radical homosexual agenda to prey on their fellow soldiers, infringe on religious beliefs, and ultimately destroy the military from within.

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When eight out of 10 Americans say gays and lesbians should be allowed to serve openly in our military, Congress ought to listen to them and include repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in this year’s defense authorization bill. Let’s hope Congress and the White House help us avoid yet another ugly political shouting match.

(Side observation: if majority support grants moral authority, then I trust Lt. Col. Woods would advocate similar deference to the American people’s overwhelming opinion on same-sex marriage, yes?  Also, NRB’s John Guardiano, himself an Iraq vet, reveals that “just 27% of military men and only 17% of our Marines favor open homosexuality within the ranks.”)

I’m a civilian, so as a general rule I won’t presume to know how to run the armed forces better than those who have worn the country’s uniform.  My position on gay service is that gay patriots deserve the opportunity to serve their country in at least some capacity, but not at the expense of military effectiveness.  Intuitively, it makes sense to me that there would be some military positions where open homosexuality would be just fine, and others where it would be totally unacceptable—it depends on many of the same issues of sexual tension that arise whenever males and females are placed in close proximity for extended periods of time.  There’s nothing “bigoted” or “ugly” about such observations, and Woods does millions of his countrymen a disservice with such simplistic attacks.

Funny how these complexities are suddenly alien to the nuance-minded Left whenever the topic of homosexuality arises, isn’t it?

I’m inclined against trying to fix what isn’t broken, but I will happily defer to credible military experts on what changes, if any, should be made to the current policy.  What I do insist upon is that the decision be based strictly upon military criteria, rather than political—not emotionalism, not to make a broader religious or societal point, not to nudge other domestic policies in any direction, and certainly not to change the military from within.

These concerns are neither trivial nor hypothetical. John recently wrote that “the Navy’s experience with women on ships confirms” that when “eros and sexual yearning are introduced into an overwhelmingly young and healthy male population, they take hold. They spread. They will not be denied.”  Indeed, liberals themselves often affirm (though not in healthy, responsible ways) the prevalence and potency of sexuality among the young.

Further, Navy veteran JE Dyer’s May 14 post at Hot Air cuts to the heart of the matter, noting that gays who simply want to serve their country can already serve under DADT, and that the policy isn’t much of a problem among those who see their service as being about protecting the country, rather than about identity politics.  No, DADT is really about “complaint and litigation”:

Ask yourself this.  Should soldiers in a unit be required to show support for Gay Pride Month, at the risk of being accused of creating a hostile work environment if they don’t?  Because they will be asked to do just that.  Other federal agencies already celebrate Gay Pride Month.  DOD will begin doing so immediately on repeal of DADT.

Ask yourself this.  Should unit leaders – COs, XOs, command senior NCOs – be required, as a matter of professional promotability and fitness for leadership, to affirm a positive view of homosexuality?  Should they be denied promotion and higher leadership positions if they cannot, in good conscience, agree to a formulaic endorsement? If you believe these should be professional criteria, why?  What is your rationale for this as a military requirement?

Because this will happen.  It will happen even if the initial implementation of a DADT repeal specifically states that it won’t.  Attrition through lawsuit and Congressional witch-hunt will take care of that.  Military policy will be aligned to avert trouble from political activists – as we have seen already.

See here and here for longer pieces, with complete documentation, justifying these predictions.

Leftists routinely lament America’s lack of frank conversation about contentious cultural issues, but whenever the opportunity to begin such discussions arise, conservative views are not engaged, but lazily dismissed as “desperate attempts to distract the public” and “ugly political shouting match[es].”  It’s obvious why: screaming bigot helps Democrats at the ballot box and pundits in the ratings, but a “frank conversation” about DADT would mean the Left coming clean about the culture of litigation and victimhood they so gleefully cultivate, and about how their elevation of political correctness above sound military policy gets Americans killed.

That, Lt. Col. Woods, is what “the security of our country depends on.”

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Hailing from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, Calvin Freiburger is a political science major at Hillsdale College.  He also writes for the Hillsdale Forum and his personal website, Calvin Freiburger Online.