DADT Hot Button

Andrew Sullivan continues to fight back against my assertions that gays in the military is a hot button issue in much of the country.

He correctly pointed out recent polling shows that “78 percent of the public supports allowing openly gay people to serve in the military.”   I retorted that, while that may be, the politics of gays in the military are such that proponents of the status quo seem to be more passionate and politically powerful.

He rejoins that it’s not 1993 anymore and “Most Americans rightly see this is unfair discrimination that we can ill afford in wartime.”

We seem to be talking past each other here.  We agree that  it’s not 1993 and that an overwhelming majority of Americans at least intellectually support that idea of letting gays serve.  And, indeed, we both agree that gays ought to be able to openly serve.

The only thing I’m asserting here is that the politics of this aren’t playing out as a 78-22 slam dunk.  Obama and Congress worked out a gays in the military compromise, carefully walking around some of the touchstones.  The Joint Chiefs have written strong letters urging Congress to wait on repeal.  Republicans threatened to filibuster, forcing a compromise on the compromise.   If that’s not evidence that this is a “hot button” issue, I don’t know what it would take.

I continue to think — as I stated in the post that started this discussion — that “it’s going to be very difficult to mount a credible argument opposing lifting the ban once the Pentagon certifies — which it almost certainly will — that doing so will not harm morale or be prejudicial to good order and discipline in the military.”   There will be some angry words spoken and some attempts, led by Senators from the South and rural America, to delay.   But it’ll almost certainly pass in the end.

FILED UNDER: Gender Issues, Military Affairs, , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Ugh says:

    it’s going to be very difficult to mount a credible argument opposing lifting the ban once the Pentagon certifies — which it almost certainly will — that doing so will not harm morale or be prejudicial to good order and discipline in the military

    I really hate all these stupid Kabuki dances we have to go through on issues like these. As you note, does anyone really think the Pentagon is going to certify anything other than allowing gays to openly serve is fine and dandy? And since that’s a foregone conclusion, why are we even waiting for that? Further, to the extent the Pentagon did not so certify, then all that shows is there is something wrong with the Pentagon/military that needs to be fixed, and DADT should be repealed anyway.

    But I guess some senators need the political cover of some fabricated military “study” in order to do the right thing.

  2. James Joyner says:

    As you note, does anyone really think the Pentagon is going to certify anything other than allowing gays to openly serve is fine and dandy?

    With SECDEF and CJCS already supporting repeal, I don’t. But the military brass definitely stopped this in its tracks back in 1993.

  3. TangoMan says:

    I’d love to read what someone with familiarity on the topic of military jurisprudence would say about a case brought which argues that the command structure is systematically violating the notion of equal protection by restricting the full integration of men and women but allowing the full integration of gays and straights. If the rationale for segregating the sexes in living quarters is that, for instance, women might feel sexually ill at ease by living with men who find them sexually appealing, then why should straights have to endure the same environment when in barracks with gays? Clearly, in both cases it’s not actions that are at issue, it is discomfort. I’m sure that many men could shower with a naked woman and not make any overt gesture or comment about the situation and yet the discomfort of the woman in this case leads to a policy of segregation. The same situation though with a gay male showering with a straight male is treated differently. If the straight male feels discomfort at showering with a male who might find him sexually attractive that is deemed a non-issue. Please explain the double standard.

  4. tom p says:

    Please explain the double standard.

    Tango, the double standard is only in your head. (you do have one don’t you?)

    the command structure is systematically violating the notion of equal protection by restricting the full integration of men and women but allowing the full integration of gays and straights.

    If you can’t tell the difference between an apple and an orange, I can’t help you.

  5. tom p says:

    my assertions that gays in the military is a hot button issue in much of the country.

    He correctly pointed out recent polling shows that “78 percent of the public supports allowing openly gay people to serve in the military.”

    Republicans threatened to filibuster,

    James, need I point out that if 78% of Americans support gays in the military, It hardly stands to reason that Republicans are representing “most of the country”? (in the truest sense of the word)

    It may be a “hot-button” issue Inside the Beltway … but out here in the real world, it ain’t defecation.

  6. TangoMan says:

    If you can’t tell the difference between an apple and an orange, I can’t help you.

    In other words you can’t make a coherent case for your position and so you resort to handwaving instead.

  7. tom p says:

    In other words you can’t make a coherent case for your position and so you resort to handwaving instead.

    It just means I have stooped to your level. A coherent case with you is a waste of time, especially when the coherent case is in your own words and you can’t see it.