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US Military: Gays Worse Than Criminals?

Barack Obama just told the gay publication the Advocate that he favors the repeal of the 1993 policy, Don't Ask, Don't Tell. He also said as president he would work to pass antidiscrimination workplace laws and grant those in same-sex civil unions federal marriage benefits. However, when selecting his joint chiefs of staff, he will not require that they share his position on the policy.

Don't ask, don't tell prohibits gay military personnel from disclosing their sexual orientation because anyone that "demonstrates a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts would create an unacceptable risk to standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion."

While the military does not accept openly gay recruits, it is increasingly making exceptions for those with criminal records. Ex-cons are not allowed to enlist, unless they receive a moral waiver. To find out how many more ex-criminals the military is taking,


Since 2004, the amount of criminal waivers issued has tripled! The rate of army recruits with waivers is now 13 percent.

If the army is changing its traditional admission standards to accept those with a criminal past, it seems it is past time to accept courageous Americans of all sexual orientations. Is there any justification for this discrimination? Why is the US requiring those in the military to keep their sexual orientation a secret, or risk losing their careers?


Join The Conversation
lilkimbo lilkimbo 9 years
Thanks for the perspectives based on your military experience, HarmonyFrance and others. I think you demonstrated what was being said earlier. Don't Ask Don't Tell is not about homophobia; it's about logistics. It needs to be reformed, but it's going to be a long and bumpy road.
harmonyfrance harmonyfrance 9 years
Miranda and Foxie...THANK YOU! It's easy to not see the gray area in this argument if you have no idea what the military life is like. Straight men and women are not allowed to bunk together. A gay servicemember and a straight servicemember would never be allowed to bunk together. Period. Two gay servicemembers wouldn't be allowed to bunk together. AND what about bisexuals? Who would they stay with? It's a complicated issue. It would require a complete restructuring of the segregation of the sexes that the military employs. In bootcamp you aren't even allowed to touch the opposite sex. Not a handshake, a pat on the back, nothing. There are group showers. You undress and dress in front of your division every time you change. The sexes are completely separated to avoid problems. I don't think the issue is that the military thinks that gay people are sexual predators, the issue is that the military treats all people like this. You are not allowed to be with the sex that you are attracted to. Women are still not allowed on submarines because they are not able to have their own facilities. It would be kind of a logistical nightmare. I completely agree that it needs to happen, but it's going to take a COMPLETE restructuring of bootcamp, barracks facilities, bathrooms, etc. It's just not simple. Don't Ask Don't Tell has sort of worked because it has kept everyone from having to deal with the logistics of it. I also never saw anyone kicked out for being gay and knew many openly gay people. Now it is horrible what happened to those linguists and just like anything else it depends on your chain on command. I honestly do think that these are unfortunate isolated cases of major asshole commanding officers. Most people don't care on a personal level and it flies under the radar. If openly admitting gay people becomes military policy they will have to go by the book. Clearly there is homophobia in the military (as there is everywhere to an extent). Just look at this election. We have a man of mixed descent and a woman, but how long do you think before we'll have an openly gay candidate? I guess my point is that homophobia is not the sole and not even the greatest reason for Don't Ask Don't Tell in the military. ALSO the military is not letting in hardened criminals. It's for things like pot use, shoplifting when 14, stupid stuff like that. You have to own up to EVERYTHING especially if you are getting a security clearance. 90 % of the people I knew in the military had some sort of waiver. Sorry for the book. ;)
leeluvfashion leeluvfashion 9 years
This is so wrong. So what if you're gay? If you want to serve you should be able to. I do not agree with the war so I wouldn't encourage anyone to sign-up, however I do believe that people that are gay should be given that same rights. Discrimination is horrible.
Jillness Jillness 9 years
Great article Ami! Parts that stood out to me: "Since the British military began allowing homosexuals to serve in the armed forces in 2000, none of its fears — about harassment, discord, blackmail, bullying or an erosion of unit cohesion or military effectiveness — have come to pass, according to the Ministry of Defense, current and former members of the services and academics specializing in the military. The biggest news about the policy, they say, is that there is no news. It has for the most part become a nonissue." "At least 24 countries — many of them allies of the United States, and some of them members of the coalition forces fighting alongside Americans — now allow gay soldiers to serve openly in their armed forces." "The military is a proving ground, and the first thing people do is find your weakness and exploit it,” Mr. Frank said in an e-mail interview. “If you’re gay, that’s your weakness, and guys will latch on to that. But frequently this is no more significant a weakness than any other based on your accent, body type, race, religion, etc.”
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
I still think if you let gay men shack up with women there's all of a sudden going to be a lot of men claiming they are gay! :)
Jillness Jillness 9 years
hypno, I would have no problem sharing quarters with a gay man. One of my old roommates was gay, and he was one of the best people I have ever known (because of his own merit, not his preference.)
Jillness Jillness 9 years
UnDave, that is truly a bad situation. Thank you for sharing. :) I have had 2 similar incidents, but it had nothing to do with homosexuality. The thing is, these people push the lines because that is who THEY are...not because of their sexuality. I have tons of gay friends, and they are not interested in forcing themselves on people. Being gay doesn't mean you are a sex offender. You only need to look at rape statistics to know that too many straight men commit these acts as well. That would not happen in the military without severe punishment, but more importantly, you'd get your tooshie kicked. I don't think that many gay men would be so dumb as to attack someone in a group environment like that. "A lot of the cohesion that happens is through filthy jokes and namecalling and all those kinds of things, if now someone will be offended at those things, I do think morale would take a hit." I just don't think that anyone would sign up for the military thinking that they won't get called a name. Full Metal Jacket, anyone? Sadly, the gay friends I have had to navigate a hostile environment during some point of their life. Even though the stereotype is that gay people are frail and easily offended, many of them are pretty damn tough. The fact is our military NEEDS these people that are willing to give their lives up for our country. And at the end of the day, in the military, isn't it about accomplishing your mission?
LadyAngel89 LadyAngel89 9 years
I have no problems with gays and I think they should be able to serve their country. I still think it's a bad idea to try to take out the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, but I think it may need to be reviewed. To me it's a way to give them an option, if they dont say and no one asks they can still serve in the military. Maybe it's not fair to straight men and women in respects to relationships, but I believe it's more for their wellbeing than anything. Barry Winchell, case and point.
foxie foxie 9 years
I'm not going to read through the 90 previous posts, but I'd just like to say that I am really pretty fed up with civilians blatantly spinning this issue they truly know nothing about. First of all, during military training, personnel are put into phase, where they have zero private interaction with the opposite sex. This is so they can focus on their new environment, training, etc. To openly allow gays into the military would be very unfair to straight personnel. During the last few months I was in training, I was *married* but not allowed to have my husband in my room. Meanwhile, downstairs, an acquaintance had her girlfriend sleeping over every night. There are TONS of gays in the military. Tons. Many of them are practically "out." It just goes to show that there is more to this issue that the bleeding heart media will ever cover. (insert yanking-out-hair icon here)
ami_z ami_z 9 years
One more point (because I can't shut up about this): Leaving aside the fact that it seems that a lot of reasoning behind discrimination against gays and lesbians is not only based on ridiculous portrayals of gays/lesbians, or the extrapolating of one or two unfortunate experiences. Much fraternization within the ranks is prohibited. So a gay soldier couldn’t actively pursue another male soldier anymore than a straight male soldier could pursue a female one in situations that are remotely coercive.
stephley stephley 9 years
I wouldn't mind cohabitating with a gay male soldier, and the protection factor would be a plus (but I'm a wimp who wouldn't join the military ever).
ami_z ami_z 9 years
A little late, but… The argument of disunity in the ranks is the same that was used 60 years ago to oppose the racial integration of army units. Integration was hard, but it seemed to work out ok. Ask Colin Powell. DADT is a travesty. A soldier who is leaving to serve his/her country should be able to kiss their same-sex partner goodbye on the tarmac (or, like hypnoticmix said, put their photo in a locker) the same way a straight soldier is able to. When a soldier must risk his/her life, treating them with respect is the least we can do. Moreover, the RAF has allowed openly gay troops to serve in a policy that has been very successful and widely embraced. This could happen in the US without the dire costs that were mentioned above. Equality works!
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
Just tossing a question out there. Hypothetically speaking how many women here would feel comfortable if they where in the military and they where told that they were about to be cohabitated with openly gay men? I think it would be cool. Straight women and gay men get along great and you'll have big strong men around to protect you from the boy's club. We won't be trying to get down your pants.
stephley stephley 9 years
oh god, after yesterday's Catholic issue, I'm stopping here!
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
The adult in charge didn't think him hitting on me was any reason to make the change. I was 16 on a youth trip.
stephley stephley 9 years
There had to be someone in charge (a boss, a cruise director?) insisting you both bunk together, or else you could have moved yourself.
EkaterinaBallerina EkaterinaBallerina 9 years
This is ridiculous. Ex-cons over gays? It's reprehensible! What good would they be at "protecting" us if they can't even follow our laws? I'm sorry but I find it truly upsetting that ex-cons are being allowed to serve in the army. I don't care if all you did was steal a tv. You still broke the law. Last time I checked, all sodomy laws had been erased. A gay man and a straight man are only different in who they are attracted to. That means little when it comes to combat. Don't Ask, Don't Tell is a ridiculously stupid idea. I'm not sure that I'd want men or women in the army who are homophobic to be serving anyway, it shows a serious weakness on their part. And what in the world is wrong with a gay man and a straight man living together? Contrary to what appears to be a common belief, gay men do not think about sex 24/7 and they don't want to sleep with every man they come across. They do tend to know who is gay and who is not. Common sense here people. The fact of the matter is that the military needs to be whipped into some serious shape. First the high incident of rape and now ex-cons over gays. I'm starting to think what really needs to happen is that we remove all straight men from the army and just make the army for women and gay men.
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
The difference is you didn't have to go to sleep with the mm in the same room. And you could've called his boss to complain, and possibly fire him.
stephley stephley 9 years
Got gropped once by a maintenance man who came to my apartment to fix the dishwasher. The cops said they'd ask him about it, but if he denied it, that would be the end of their job. But they said, the mm & I were now considered to have a relationship in the eyes of the law. I had to live there a couple more weeks until I moved. Not a good situation, but not a reason to ban maintenance men from apartments.
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
The problem was that after that morning, I had to spend the rest of the week in the same quarters. Not a good experience
stephley stephley 9 years
Well UD35, if you were a woman and complained about a situation like that, the first question would be about you: what did you do to provoke the situation? Are you incredibly attractive? Were you wearing anything at all alluring? Women soldiers already have to put up with that kind of stuff, and the gays that already are in the military apparently are controlling themselves enough that we're not hearing of a lot of same sex attacks (tho there were some mentioned in that rape report last week).
em1282 em1282 9 years
UnDave--yeah, I've been hit on by gay women (some aggressively, as in not leaving me alone while I was at a bar), and if your only negative experience with a gay man was being tickled by don't know what to say! I'm sure it made you uncomfortable and obviously I wasn't there but...well, I don't know. I've been hit on my lesbians and it didn't really do anything to my opinion of members of the gay/lesbian/transgender/transsexual/bisexual community, but to each his/her own. To this day I still feel more comfortable in my city's "boystown" neighborhood when I go drinking there--the guys aren't buying what I'm sellin'. :) Also? Contrary to what a lot of straight people may think, most gay people aren't here to "convert" all straight people out there. As my (gay) friend says--"Why would we want your guys? Ours are better looking any day. Well, then again we'll take Brad Pitt. Only if Angelina can come too." ;)
em1282 em1282 9 years
Stephley--excellent points and I agree with you 100%...
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
Have you ever been hit on by a gay person? I was on a trip to NY, and found out that my new bunk mate was not only gay, but interested in me as well. The first morning he woke me up by lying in bed with me and tickling me. I know he isn't indicative of all gay men, but he certaintly made me most uncomfortably aware of homosexuality, and I deffinitely don't want anyone to experience what I had to endure.
stephley stephley 9 years
The prejudice against gays isn't any more rational than racial fears and sterotypes - in the early 50's, the Army actually had Johns Hopkins study whether it was truly possible to follow President Truman's direction that the military stop racially discriminatory practices. Segregationists didn't say they simply hated blacks, they claimed they were mentally and morally inferior, that they would damage morale among the ranks. Gays regulate their behavior around straights now to keep their jobs and to protect themselves against discrimination - and they knew when they joined the military that it's an environment hostile to who they are. Do we really have the right to ask them to risk their lives for us, and to lie about who they are to protect some frat boy fantasies?
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