Military Weighs Ending Gay Ban

Gay Soldier Cartoon

America’s senior military leadership is considering the ramifications of allowing homosexuals to openly serve.

The discussions, centered in a small group assembled by Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, are in preparation for a possible Senate hearing on the 1993 law this month.

In the year since Mr. Obama’s inauguration, the Pentagon has moved slowly on the issue and even now internal dissent remains over how fast any change should be instituted. At a meeting last week of Admiral Mullen and the chiefs of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines, the officers debated the timing of any repeal and how much stress it would place on the forces.

A one-page memorandum drafted by staff members as a discussion point for the meeting said that the chiefs could adopt the view that “now is not the time” because of the continuing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and that the military would be better off delaying the start of the repeal process until 2011.

The same memorandum, according to a military official who has seen it, also said that “every indicator of opinion over the past 16 years shows movement toward nondiscrimination based on orientation” and that “in time the law will change.”

The official said the memorandum did not necessarily reflect the views of Admiral Mullen and the chiefs. “Not all their views are the same,” the official said.

Neither Admiral Mullen nor Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has publicly voiced an opinion on allowing gay men and lesbians to serve openly, although Admiral Mullen permitted a recent article criticizing the prohibition to appear in a military journal that he oversees.

The military’s academic journals have long allowed thoughtful, academic discussion of issues of interest to its members. That doesn’t imply tacit endorsement.

Ultimately, the military will do what it’s told and cope with the fallout as best it can.  But there’s no doubt that there will be fallout. Military culture has moved substantially since 1993, when the current policy went into place, but it’s still much more conservative than that of the society writ large.

Whether forced on it by civilian leaders or allowed to evolve on its own, gays will be allowed to serve openly within the near future.  The only questions are how it’s implemented, when it happens, and how the fallout will be dealt with.

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:

    Why is there any issue over “how this is implemented”? Isn’t it just (1) you will not longer be throwing people out of the armed forces for being gay (2) the sexual misconduct rules that apply to heterosexual misconduct will also apply to homosexual misconduct (3) STFU and salute?

  2. Jeff says:

    when the LAW is changed the military will follow it …

  3. Jeff says:

    Of course if you really think that Congress will change the law you may be wrong …

  4. DC Loser says:

    Fallout? What fallout? Was there fallout when Truman ordered the integration of the military? Did white soldiers riot, refuse to obey the order, and lynch black soldiers? IMHO, most military members welcome a repeal of DADT. Keep moving, nothing to see here.

  5. Bill H says:

    The military will do what it is told to do, but it will not repeal DADT until it is told to do so in no uncertain terms. As long as its opinion is asked it will delay, and will offer reasons for delay. To repeal DADT the civilian leadership must quit listening to the military, make the decision, and tell the military to implement the decision without further discussion.

  6. James Joyner says:

    Fallout? What fallout? Was there fallout when Truman ordered the integration of the military? Did white soldiers riot, refuse to obey the order, and lynch black soldiers?

    My understanding is that there was a tense racial atmosphere well into the 1970s. You can regulate behavior but not attitude.

  7. DC Loser says:

    James – there may well have been tension, but it was nothing that the black soldiers weren’t used to. Just that the white soldiers no longer could get away treating them in a second class manner. You know what? Tough! Get used to it. Isn’t that the way the military works?

  8. floyd says:

    Equating sexual preference to race is totally inappropriate and agenda driven in a disingenuous manner.
    However, after being brainwashed to reject all tradition, we now have a generation the will truly strain at a gnat and willingly swallow a camel.
    Examining an issue on it’s own merits has now given way to lock step conformity of opinion, due to the fact that all social constructs are, at their roots, systems of coercion and domination.
    So, let the games continue and herd instinct prevail over intellect.

  9. An Interested Party says:

    Equating sexual preference to race is totally inappropriate and agenda driven in a disingenuous manner.

    This statement assumes that homosexuality is nothing more than a lifestyle choice…

  10. Steve Plunk says:

    Is it me or does anyone else find the Horsey cartoon offensive. No one’s going to stand over a dead soldier’s remains and say such a thing. Why should cartoonists have such license?

  11. sam says:

    Why should cartoonists have such license?

    Even poor taste is protected by the First Amendment.

  12. floyd says:

    “”This statement assumes that homosexuality is nothing more than a lifestyle choice…””
    “””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””

    Aip;
    Although that would be the sort of knee-jerk assumption that would be expected in modern discourse, it is not necessarily true.

    There are people with natural born propensities for all sorts of socially unacceptable behaviors which are not tolerated.
    I.E. Many people believe monogamy is against a man’s nature and yet polygamy is outlawed.

    Kleptomania is commonly considered by some to be congenital , yet socially unacceptable.

    It has long been considered that some people are natural born killers, yet that behavior is very narrowly sanctioned.

    Many believe that pedophilia is inborn as well…

    So, lifestyle choice or not, society has long decided what sort of behavior to accept or reject.

    OF COURSE…. This is, once again, the first “enlightened generation”![lol]

    Just to anticipate your response………

    I am addressing here only whether it is appropriate to sanction all inborn urges, or to impose compliance to social standards in some cases.
    There is no implication of equivalence.
    You will, of course, infer what you wish.
    I would expect no less.

  13. Steve Plunk says:

    Sam you are absolutely correct but poor taste such as this need not be published by those with supposedly good taste. Doesn’t someone take the time to tell Horsey it’s in bad taste?

  14. Franklin says:

    Floyd-

    All of your examples seem to have an obvious victim. Being homosexual and having a consenting partner has no victim.

    Yes, there are gays who participate in dangerous activities, for example promiscuity and drugs, but that’s not all gays and that’s not exclusive to gays.

    You like to pretend that anybody disagreeing with you hasn’t thought of an issue on its merits. Please provide some proof of that assertion, because it is mindnumbingly stupid. I know you have some valid arguments outside of this insipid tripe, because I’ve seen some before.

    You often take the conservative position “it’s this way because thousands of years of tradition have decided it that way,” and there’s definitely some weight to the argument that you don’t change things just for the sake of changing things, especially if you don’t know what the consequences of doing so are. There is also some weight to the fact that people didn’t know everything we know now (for example, on the born or bred arguments, which aren’t settled by the way).

    And there certainly are good examples of various groups in history that accepted the fact that not everyone is born perfectly heterosexual or completely single-gendered. Native Americans respected that fact. Ancient Indians (from India) around the time that the Kamasutra was written also understood that. Perhaps they were right and your favored historical groups are wrong.

  15. floyd says:

    Franklin;
    Who is the victim in polygamy?
    Besides as I stated, the broader question really comes down to whether social norms should be enforced despite the proclivities of it’s individual members. For instance, should my neighbor be allowed to decide the square footage of the house I build on my own property, or whether I wear a shirt at Wal-Mart.
    Should society be allowed to control my tolerance for risk, like outlawing snow skiing or forcing the use of seat belts?
    The fact is that all societies lie somewhere between anarchy and totalitarianism,or between absolute libertarianism and communism.
    Every aspect of every life is impacted in someway without specific respect for any individual’s desires or proclivities, whether seen as benign or malignant.
    I simply maintain that this fact renders the concept of legitimization by inborn proclivity alone moot. That is not to say that there are not more convincing arguments to be had.
    On the issue of the legitimacy of homosexual behavior, the civil argumentation has been exhausted and we have reached the inevitable stage of coercion and domination.
    To use the vernacular…. It’s all over but the SHOUTING! The immutable moral issues have now become irrelevant and we are left only with compliance or ostracism!
    The winner’s are not always the ones with the highest moral ground, relegating moral argument to a twisted form of rationalization.
    You have no knowledge of what I like to pretend nor do you exhibit a grasp of the nuanced positions I have taken here or in the past.
    Whether this is the result of a numb mind or simple stupidity I can not say. I tend think it is neither. Perhaps you are a member of that “first enlightened generation” which I may have missed by some few years. How would I know after all??[lol]

  16. Highlander says:

    I personally don’t care if someone has a propensity to suckle choir boys. That is his personal business.

    Having spent a significant time in the Marine Corps during war time, I can tell you this politically correct change will degrade the military over time. A Marine rifle platoon is built around the concept of Fraternity and not Eros. It has been my observation that gays tend to be hopelessly stuck in the Eros mode.

    A Marine Rifle platoon is by definition a brutally efficient killing machine manned up by 20 year olds. When you start sprinkling gays in the equation, I would say there is a very good chance when, the order to “Fire” is given. The gay Marine will stand a good chance of dying at the hands of some of his fellow Marines.

    So then, thanks to the God of Political Correctness, you will have our combat units committing fratricide. But I suspect the supporters of this move could care less if it negatively impacts the war fighting abilities of our military.

    All they care about is making their political point about” how we are all just really the same( even if we aren’t)” And if it puts our military personal at greater risk. “Well so what?”

    Just one more sign that is getting late in the day for Imperial America.

  17. An Interested Party says:

    I personally don’t care if someone has a propensity to suckle choir boys.

    That, of course, has no more to do with homosexuality than the propensity of someone to suckle little girls has to do with heterosexuality…but of course, it isn’t surprising that you would make such a connection, considering the tone of the rest of your spewing…

  18. Franklin says:

    Who is the victim in polygamy?

    Well in consensual situations, nobody. My impression is we haven’t seen much of that, with girls being married at 14 and so forth. There are other decent arguments against polygamy, I can’t remember them all at this hour (assuming it’s one-side, it leaves a bunch of sexually frustrated young men which isn’t too good for society).

    You have no knowledge of what I like to pretend nor do you exhibit a grasp of the nuanced positions I have taken here or in the past.

    Oh, c’mon, you just said, in this thread, that there is lockstep conformity in thought. That’s hardly nuanced, and obviously wrong, since the polls show something resembling a 50/50 split on issues like these.

    I’m just saying, I’ve seen you make better arguments.

  19. anjin-san says:

    Is it me or does anyone else find the Horsey cartoon offensive.

    Nowhere nearly as offensive as forcing people who are prepared to die to protect their country to live a lie while doing so…