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Opinion: Three Years After Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Some Troops Are ‘Almost Equal’


On September 20, 2011 – the U. S. military did away with the policy known as Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) and began allowing gay and lesbian military people to serve without having to hide their sexual orientation.

What has changed in the subsequent years? A recent investigation showed extraordinary transformation on the one hand — particularly in the realm of law and regulation — but also pointed up yet-unresolved administrative matters, and a still-evolving military culture.

Signs of transformation:

  • On a recent summer morning in Quantico, Va., Joseph Rocha — who as a young sailor in 2005 was subjected to degrading hazing by a chief petty officer who suspected Rocha was gay — was commissioned a Marine Corps second lieutenant after completing the Corps’ tough 10-week Officer Candidate School. Belief that exposure under DADT would always hamper his career prospects had caused Rocha to leave the service. When it was repealed, he rejoined — now as a college graduate halfway through law school.
  • When the U. S. Supreme Court in the summer of 2013 repealed the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and the Defense Department began recognizing same-sex marriages, Army Brig. Gen. Tammy Smith, deputy chief of staff of the U. S. Army Reserve, went, as she put it, “from being someone who had to keep my (female) partner an absolute secret, to someone who is now a married military member and lives in Army housing.”

Certain issues the military implies are out of its control, though, put some gay and lesbian military families into a category of service perhaps best described as, “almost equal.”

For instance, retired Air Force Lt. Col. Chris Rowzee of the American Military Partner Association reported that State Department-negotiated Status of Forces Agreements between the U. S. and some governments hosting U. S. military bases — Germany among them — preclude same-sex spouses from obtaining the same “duration of the service member’s assignment” visas afforded to heterosexual military spouses.

And because many religious groups endorsing individuals for duty as military chaplains believe homosexual relationships violate basic faith tenets, retired Army Col. Ron Crews — executive director of the group Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty — noted that unit-level marriage enrichment programs are sometimes cancelled these days if a same-sex couple signs up to participate and the unit cannot find a chaplain whose endorsing faith group allows him or her to provide such services to gay or lesbian service members.

Finally, a significant number of military people I spoke with while recently producing an audio documentary on the military three years after DADT expressed the view that in certain occupational fields, even now, it would be difficult for a gay or lesbian service member to be truly candid about their sexuality.

“To speak bluntly,” observed one expeditionary force sailor, “there’s a lot of aggressive people in certain fields, and typically homosexuals are not the people that fit in to that mentality. And an aggressive person can make it very uncomfortable for people to really let their guard down, and show what they’re all about.”

  • captlou

    The US Navy is facing legitimate threats around the world that threaten the very survival of the United States – and then they get distracted by this nonsense. What an opportunity for an enemy. And it’s all self-inflicted. I pray each day that our nation finds a way to survive this onslaught against the very foundations of our viability as a nation. God help us.

  • Eric Arllen

    It appears the real problem of getting past DADT is the DoD just hasn’t been able to muster the necessary hammer blows to beat the unbelievers into conformance. The article ticked off three examples – Chaplains who live their faith, countries that haven’t realized the wonderfulness of all things gay when it comes to SoF agreements and “aggressive people”.

    Chaplains can transformed or replaced with compliant substitutes. There has even been talk of doing away with them entirely as a separation of church and state issue.

    SoF agreement issues normally can get beaten into shape if Uncle Sam wants it bad enough.

    But “aggressive people”. That’s a pretty broad descriptor. Kind of sounds like the kind who work at the tip of the spear, the edge of the blade, the finger on the trigger. Just might have a continuing need for that characteristic in our “military” until the Smart People complete their “fundamental transformation” of the USA after which everything will be just peachy. What to do? Sounds like another job for the Smart People.

    With all the really Smart People pushing the neanderthals to embrace the wonderfulness of all things gay, I’m sure they are really close to finding a a way to ‘adjust’ the attitudes of this “aggressive people” demographic while retaining their essential nature. The folks working on that answer are also the ones who just know there is a lost herd of unicorns out there somewhere. If they wish really hard, they’ll find it, I’m sure.

  • NavySubNuke

    Every time the PC N*zi’s win battles like the military and in fact the entire nation suffers. Instead of trying to solve actual problems we distract our sailors, soldiers, and marines with indoctrinations on crap like this. Things like this may please the sheeple who voted for Obama but at the end of the day it is nothing but a pointless distraction from the real work that needs to be done.
    And God help us when the PC N*zi’s finally let the tr*nssexuals in – because the military has so much extra money that paying for s*x change operations and hormone prescriptions won’t cut into the budget at all……

    • Jose Antonio Guerrero Ceballos

      I’ve probably devoted 1 hour total in the last three years to learning about gays in the military. I don’t feel distracted at all. The training said it was now ok for me to confront people if they’re being assholes over my sexuality. Check. I’ve never had a problem. It’s a misconception that Soldiers and Sailors are all uneducated and hateful…

  • Capt Woody Sanford

    I suggest that any Military Chaplain should accept all service members for a marriage enrichment course ” for the good of the service,” particularly those on overseas bases where all religions are not represented and some commanders and superiors may have prejudices. I spent 20 years in the Navy Medical Corps( Active and Reserve.) I never observed any refusal of treatment based on religious preference, sexual orientation, marriage status or any other issue. The Chaplain Corps should do likewise. They are commissioned to counsel, comfort and enrich all members.

  • steve Howell

    sickening. just sickening to see what the PC perverts have done to the greatest military in the world.

    • Jose Antonio Guerrero Ceballos

      We have improved since DADT went away. We’ve retained Soldiers and Sailors with specialized skill sets. The only cost has been telling a minority of people they can’t be assholes anymore with those of us that don’t have their same religious or social beliefs. Not bad, right?

      • steve Howell

        no it has not improved at all. But to all you liberal, gay loving, lets destroy the military I guess yall think it is just fantastic.
        Trust me lib, in the real world of Infantry soldiers, no one wanted this.
        I swear you liberals could screw up a 2 car funeral.

        • Jose Antonio Guerrero Ceballos

          I can only speak for myself when I say I’ve seen much improvement. You’re right, I’m a Libertarian: I’m gay loving and socially liberal…I just have no desire to destroy the military I serve. I don’t serve in the infantry, but can you tell me how my sexuality affects yours? You don’t have to partake in the fun!

          • steve Howell

            sickening. just sickening. Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve.
            Not Adam and Ken.
            Thanks Clinton and Obama. Yall could destroy a anvil with a rubber hammer.

  • The_Universal_Curmudgeon

    Interesting comments.

    Unfortunately the article doesn’t come anywhere near establishing the “Doom and Gloom” scenarios which most of the commentators appear to have hoped would eventuate.

    1. “Visas” – Those are solely within the purview of the country granting them, If one actually believes in “Free, Equal, Independent, and Sovereign” states (other than the United States of America) then there is no failing on the part of either the US military or government if “those other guys” won’t “give us what we want -just because we want it”.

    2. “Enrichment of Marriage Courses” – Exactly why is “religion” an essential element of “enrichment”? I have no problem with Chaplains who will not preside at a marriage where the characteristics of the couple do not comply with the tenets of their religion (let’s say if The Pope were to refuse to marry professed Atheists in a Jewish Ceremony conducted in a Mosque – just for example), but where does any religion say that its “spiritual leaders” should refuse to help people get along with others simply because they don’t happen to subscribe to the right brand of theological cant?

    3. “Aggressive Sub-Groups” – If anyone actually thought that ALL sectors of the military were going to adapt at the same rate then they probably should be let go as soon as possible and before they start making REALLY dangerous mistakes. The “Aggressive Sub-Groups” obliquely referred to constitute (at an EWAG) around 0.1% of the US military and, quite frankly, they aren’t going to change their minds until they are personally familiar with someone who is either homosexual or female or both and who actually forces them to do so by completing the training and then successfully completing missions. In the words of the Infantry TANGO SIERRA.

    “If you have never squashed yourself down into a muddy hole in the middle of a driving rain storm while people you have never met try their very best to kill you, you can never quite understand the feeling. If you have, you’ll always wish you didn’t.” – Pomposities, Platitudes, Poaches, and Profundities from Agent X89A
    (ca. 2000)