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    The Lesson of DADT Repeal For Gay Marriage

    The Lesson of DADT Repeal For Gay Marriage

    We have returned to the pre-Clinton policy of leaving it up to the military as to whether and on what terms servicemen and servicewomen may openly acknowledge same sex sexual orientation. 

    Contrary to popular media hype, repeal of the law does not itself require the military to allow open service by gays:

    (b) EFFECTIVE DATE.—The amendments made by subsection (f) shall take effect only on the date on which the last of the following occurs:

    (1) The Secretary of Defense has received the report required by the memorandum of the Secretary referred to in subsection (a).

    (2) The President transmits to the congressional defense committees a written certification, signed by the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stating each of the following:

    (A) That the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have considered the recommendations contained in the report and the report’s proposed plan of action.

    (B) That the Department of Defense has prepared the necessary policies and regulations to exercise the discretion provided by the amendments made by subsection (f).

    (C) That the implementation of necessary policies and regulations pursuant to the discretion provided by the amendments made by subsection (f) is consistent with the standards of military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention of the Armed Forces.

    There were a number of arguments in favor of (and against) repeal, but the one argument which carried zero weight with me was that prompt action was necessary to avoid having the change imposed through the courts.

    How convenient this argument was considering that leaving such matters to popular will (whether by legislature or referendum) is the exact opposite of the strategy to date both as to DADT repeal and gay marriage.  The prospects of a judicially imposed military policy were slight, notwithstanding trial court rulings to the contrary.

    That is not to say that the legislative rather judicial than approach was wrong.  My issue is that the overhyped threat of judicial action was used as an excuse by some not to take a position on the merits.

    Repeal of DADT will have lasting societal impact and acceptance precisely because the legislative vote reflected changing societal views and public opinion, and will not be seen as having been forced on society by the sole unelected branch of government.

    Not everything which is desired or good constitutes a constitutional right to be obtained through the courts.

    When courts stretch to find constitutional grounds for political ends, the result is societal illegitimacy and lingering political turmoil.  Just ask Roe v. Wade.

    Democracy worked on DADT repeal, which is a lesson advocates of gay marriage would do well to learn.

    Update:  Commenters have pointed out that this repeal should not have been passed during a lame duck session.  I think that is a legitimate point, which I have made before about social legislation.  Nonetheless, the 65-31 vote, including eight Republicans in favor, increases the legitimacy even in a lame duck session.

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    Comments


    "More often than not, gay men are slightly effeminate, very sensitive and thus, lack a certain aggressiveness (killer instinct) that is needed in warriors (duh)."

    Speaking as someone who was (recently) combat arms, whether you're good at fighting has nothing to do with your sexuality and everything to do with your personality. The best soldiers, in terms of individual prowess, tend to be the alpha males.

    There's nothing wrong with a gay guy as an individual soldier, the problem is in making the whole team work together. The bulk of soldiers are males aged 18-25 because that's the demographic that can do the job and is willing to sign up for it. However, that demographic has problems. In a combat arms unit, the biggest one, by sheer number of disciplinary problems, is drinking, but a close second is issues with wives and girlfriends. My old unit had one guy who married a stripper out of basic; this guy was a capable soldier, but because he kept lying about stuff out of a misguided belief that he was saving his marriage, he kept getting in trouble until he was booted out.

    But at least when you're deployed with an all male unit, those problems are on another continent. When I was deployed, I had the misfortune of beng attached to a support unit with males and females. At that unit, sex was the biggest disciplinary problem by far. General order #1 prohibits soldiers having sexual relations, and being 18-25, a good number ignore it, and their chain of command actually spent time and effort sneaking around to find people having sex. Then those people had to be punished, and it lent itself to even more favoritism and infighting.

    The worst problem is that the support units have just gotten used to "this is how things are," and notably, the military is eliminating support jobs for contractors. The clowns I was with could barely get a mission together to drive up and down route Irish. They simply have no clue of the problems females are causing, and I doubt that adding gays to the mix would make much of a difference for them.

    But in a combat arms unit, you need a high level of teamwork to pull off complex battle drills. Everyone has to know their job backwards, and that requires every individual paying close attention while doing constant drilling and training. Throwing openly gay 18-25 year old males into the mix is an extremely dangerous social experiment, and I worry that people may die as a result of it.

    "Not all gays serve in a capacity of being gunners etc. but tend to be tech heads or linguists."

    90% of the military is support, so you'd expect 90% of gays are in support. Linguists just get a lot of media attention because you can make a facile argument from anecdotes of gay linguists being booted out when we're short on people who speak Arabic. I've never seen any evidence to support the contention that gays are more or less prevalent in combat arms.

    "What I see is a mixture of the reasons for repeal and against repeal, but some of the reasons that I have seen espoused by people who have little contact with gays are generally invalid. "

    Here's another thought: the bulk of active duty military service members serve (like me) their initial term and get out. The vast majority of gay service members, therefore, are required to be closeted for about 5 years. They're from the ages of 18-25, and I think there's a strong argument to be made that they are much better off staying in the closet for that period of time. With one notable exception (he frequently referred to himself as "the gayest man alive"), the guys we suspected were gay seemed to be pretty confused about their sexuality. The military is, frankly, a terrible environment for self discovery of such a nature.

    As is all too often the case, I don't think the career gay guys, mostly officers, are seeing it from the enlisted man's point of view and how it might affect them.


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