Get Rid of of DADT

It’s off-topic, but it’s the best explanation I’ve read about why Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell needs to be repealed, courtesy of Andrew Sullivan:

Rich [Lowry] says that it’s no big deal to live hiding one’s sexual orientation. If you’re straight, try it for one day.

Try never mentioning your spouse, your family, your home, your girlfriend or boyfriend to anyone you know or work with — just for one day. Take that photo off your desk at work, change the pronoun you use for your spouse to the opposite gender, guard everything you might say or do so that no one could know you’re straight, shut the door in your office if you have a personal conversation if it might come up.

Try it. Now imagine doing it for a lifetime. It’s crippling; it warps your mind; it destroys your self-esteem. These men and women are voluntarily risking their lives to defend us. And we are demanding they live lives like this in order to do so.

I suspect there are gay atheists in foxholes, too — talk about a double whammy against them — but I have yet to hear from any of them…

  • I Served in Silence

    I’m not gay, but I am Bi and an Atheist. I spent 20 years in the military before retiring in 2008. But I have to admit that we didn’t have a lot of foxholes in the Air Force.

  • Kid A

    Guess what these countries have in common?

    Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bermuda, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Philippines, Romania, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and Uruguay.

    And guess what these countries have in common?

    Egypt, Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, Yemen, Russia, Cuba, North Korea, United States.

    What a cryin’ shame.

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    I don’t talk about my partner or children at work or about my home life. I talk about work. I also don’t talk about work at home. I’m like two separate people. Working from home is fun because we get to meet at the kettle and gossip.

    Seriously I work with people, that doesn’t make them my friends. I’m not interested in their lives, why should they be interested in mine?

  • DGKnipfer

    Well, I’ve never been in a foxhole and my wife insists that I’m not gay.

  • Brian

    This is a tough one. I support the rights of gay Americans to marry and have all of the same benefits as straight couples.

    Unfortunately, the military must, by the nature of their mission, put operational effectiveness ahead of soldier’s rights and liberties in some cases. Members of the military choose to forgo several liberties which the rest of us enjoy. I am not qualified to know how having openly gay soldiers would affect the operational effectiveness of our military, and so I’m forced to rely on the judgement of the officers charged with ensuring combat effectiveness.

    If DADT is left in place, it should be for operational reasons, not because of a few bigot generals. Such reasons should be well researched, documented and verified. In the end, if DADT results in a more combat-ready fighting force, it should stay. Otherwise it should go.

  • Kid A

    Well, it has been working for Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bermuda, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Philippines, Romania, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and Uruguay.

    There is no compromise to “operational effectiveness” in these countries’ militaries. Its already been done in these countries and there are no disadvantages. Its plain and simple: the US is, once again, behind the times.

    And besides, the US works in joint operations already with openly gay soldiers already (for example, the UK). Shouldn’t the US not cooperate with any military force that openly accepts gays and lesbians also? They might jeopardise the mission! *gasp!*

    And one more thing: I recall a few years ago the Pentagon fired a lot of good folks in intelligence upon discovering they were gay. Some of these individuals were involved in the decryption of messages in obscure Arabic dialects– not exactly something anyone could do. But their sexual orientation matters more than that? Please.

  • http://ottodestruct.com Otto

    As a single person, let me make this painfully clear to all non-single people of any sexual orientation.

    In the workplace, please never mention your spouse, your family, your home, your girlfriend, or your boyfriend to me.

    I don’t care about them. And talking to me about them makes you really frickin’ annoying.

    Get an *interesting* life before attempting to talk to me about it. Your family is dull as hell.

  • littlejohn

    Hemant,
    I’ve noticed that my comments are being expunged almost immediately after I make them. I don’t think I’ve written anything offensive.
    You know my email address. Can you explain?
    If I’ve given offense, I sincerely regret it.

  • Lymis

    “I don’t talk about my partner or children at work or about my home life.”

    Good for you. But my guess is, you get to GO home.

    When I was in the Navy, we deployed for up to 7 months at a time. I did not have the option of going home.

    And remember, this isn’t about the rights of gay servicemembers to gossip incessantly and show home movies.

    Good for you that you don’t talk about your wife and kids at work. Ever stop to think how your experience would be different if you knew you would be fired immediately if anyone even found out you HAD a wife and kids? If you had to make sure nobody from work ever saw you with your family at a restaurant or movie, or shopping? Join the PTA? Hah. Go to church with them? Dream on. Big difference.

    Why do I suspect that, even though you don’t talk about your wife and kids at work, you include them in your insurance benefits, or could accept an emergency phone call if one of them was hurt? Do you wear a wedding ring?

    And that’s not even counting things like the fact that servicemembers get relocated all the time – and straight ones get to relocate their families with them, have access to housing, to support systems, medical care, pensions, etc. Not so for gay servicemembers.

    And by the way, if it turns out you aren’t straight. Not a single one of my objections changes.

  • Lymis

    And by the way, if it turns out you aren’t straight. Not a single one of my objections changes.

  • http://lagunatic.wordpress.com/ Lagunatic

    I imagine it’s like The Three Faces of Eve and/or Steve.

    ^joke

    People who feel like they must live in the closet to protect their livelihood or because they’re afraid they’ll be shunned…well, I just want to give them hugs and the ability to be who they are WITH OUT having to hide.

    I can’t imagine having to assume a ‘split personality’ just for a paycheck. I realize not everyone in the military is there for a paycheck, but you get my drift.

    My utopia includes everyone having the ability to be who and what they are w/out shame or sacrifice.

  • Donna

    Do away with it already. I don’t care how many countries do or don’t have it. Do away with it because it just ain’t right.

    And all these guys suddenly shrieking but we’ll have to shower with them? What the fuck was going on under don’t ask, don’t tell. Where were the protests that you have the right to know if some other service person you were showering with was gay then? Gimme a break.

    Before you ask, no, I wouldn’t serve. I’m a freaking coward who would haul ass in the face of gunfire. When it comes to fight or flight, I’m all for fleeing if at all possible. I’m straight. Rather have me in there or someone with the balls to cover your back?

    All this protesting too loud with excuses like that just sounds like a lot of hooey. An excuse to be bigoted.

    Now for all you futz’ saying you don’t talk about your family at work; you only talk about work. Man, you must be an utter blast to work with. Casual conversation does not friends make but it does pass the time and make the work environment more pleasant. I don’t go to the office Christmas party either so I won’t say you must be a blast at it but, Christ, I wouldn’t want to be working in the next cubicle either. I might be afraid to crack a smile.

    Sorry for the heavy tone but I’m finding that a bit hard to believe. But if you spend 40 hours a week (give or take, depending on the job) interacting with coworkers and casual conversation never comes up, you must be uptight as all hell on job. I’m surprised since you don’t come across that way here.

    But, in any case, as someone pointed out above, it ain’t the same damned thing. I have tried to stay in the Atheist closet at work and found even that impossible. Can’t imagine keeping a significant other a secret. It does have to fuck with your head.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Hemant Mehta

    Hemant,
    I’ve noticed that my comments are being expunged almost immediately after I make them. I don’t think I’ve written anything offensive.
    You know my email address. Can you explain?
    If I’ve given offense, I sincerely regret it.

    John — The comments are not in the spam folder, so I’m not sure what’s going on. It may just be glitches in the system, and those will be fixed soon with the new commenting system!

    Thanks for your patience :)

  • catherine

    I’m gay, and I can’t imagine being in a position where I could be fired if someone found out I were gay. Especially if that job involved risking my life.

    Lots of folks who join the military are pretty young, and may not have yet come to terms with who they are. It must be a scary thing for those who realize after they are already in the military that they might not be straight since they can’t confide in anyone without risking being kicked out.

  • Siamang

    “group cohesion” is code for “we don’t want to change it because we wouldn’t like it if we had to change it.”

    You could make the EXACT SAME argument (and people DID) about racially integrating the armed forces.

    Excuse me, what what other job in the *Government* are people allowed to demand that none of their co-workers would be gay??!?

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Beth

    My fiance is in the Army, and through him, I know 3 gay servicemembers. All excellent soldiers, not that that should make a difference. Someone once made the argument to me that many people going into the military have not previously interacted with gay people and so gay people should be excluded because it would make these poor straight people uncomfortable to just be “thrown in” with them. I am from a small town, and there aren’t any black people there, so I wonder if it’s ok for me to call them n****rs and expect to have them excluded from my college since I haven’t previously interacted with any?

    Not only that, but in all my experience talking to individuals who were members of the military, every one that I asked said when you’re deploying or getting shot at or doing some other military operation, you’re simply not thinking about who you’d like to fuck right now.

    I agree with Donna. Get rid of it; it doesn’t matter what other countries have done. It simply is not right.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Beth

    @ Kid A.: Of those individuals who were linguists who knew Arabic, two of them came to my campus recently to talk about DADT. One of them spoke 5 languages! And they fired him. It’s just ridiculous.

  • revyloution

    Atheists are roughly 5% of the population, and homosexuals are close to the same number. I would expect gay atheists to be a tiny number in any population.

    Has anyone seen any numbers on atheism in the homosexual population? Logic would dictate a high level of non-belief, since most modern religions are homophobic. Then again, religion flies in the face of logic…

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    Lymis, your point is well made and I am happy to concede that I don’t have to deal with the issues of hiding my partner or children from coworkers. I choose not to discuss them because I don’t want the people I work with to intrude on my home life. I’m afraid I have a low opinion on my coworkers that might bias my views in this regard. Work for me is about working…and blogging (only while compiling though). I don’t care for office gossip and I don’t care for the people who engage in it. It is often mean and vindictive and I have better things to do that engage in such rubbish.

    The point is that I have a right to my privacy and I choose to exercise it. Absolutely gay couples should have the same rights and may choose to broadcast stories of their family for the entire office. That doesn’t make them interesting stories and I’ll probably avoid them for that reason. Yeah, I’m a laugh a minute at work.

  • catherine

    It should also be pointed out that this not just an issue for the person in the military. It’s also an issue for the soldier’s partner, since they are likely cut off from any support that military communities could offer if their partner is deployed. Image having your partner serving in Iraq or Afghanistan, and not being able to get support from other military wives and husbands because if the military finds out that you exist your partner will get kicked out. You have no way of knowing if you will ever see your partner again, and you have to be careful about who you even confide in about those fears

    (and of course, if the worst does happen, forget about getting any support from the military since the federal government doesn’t recognize same-sex marriages, but I suppose that’s getting off topic a bit)

  • Lars

    I tried to find some information about serving in the Norwegian army and being LGBT. All I can find is that it says they can serve openly.
    As I served in 86, I was asked specifically if I was gay due to a rumor. If I had said yes, most of the discharge paperwork was already filled by my immediate supervising officer.

  • ecorona

    Not precisely DADT, but – Andrew Sullivan is featured in “Outrage” a film by Kirby Dick (his previous work “This Film is Not Yet Rated also recommended). The film focuses on the hypocrisy of the closet, and the religious intolerance that breeds the deceit. Also featured are elected officials Barney Frank, Tammy Baldwin, Jim McCreary, and the scion of gay activism Larry Kramer, who has some very interesting words about our national founders and the history of LGBT people in America. [I am in no way connected to or affiliated with Dick or his work - I just think he's done a couple of the best mainstream pieces on LGBT issues - especially for an avowed heterosexual.]

  • Neon Genesis

    “Lymis, your point is well made and I am happy to concede that I don’t have to deal with the issues of hiding my partner or children from coworkers. I choose not to discuss them because I don’t want the people I work with to intrude on my home life. I’m afraid I have a low opinion on my coworkers that might bias my views in this regard.”

    Don’t forget also that there’s a huge difference between going to an office job for half the day and a military career where your job is your life and you’re on the base practically all day and night. Should we really expect military soldiers to talk only about violence and fighting 24/7? Speaking as a gay man, I’ve never understood the logic behind DADT that if a homophobic soldier has a problem following orders because they might catch cooties from a gay or lesbian that this means the innocent gay and lesbian soldier that’s doing their job should be the one fired. If they can’t do their job because they’re a bigot, doesn’t that mean they should be the ones fired? Imagine if we had a policy that if a straight man refused to do their job because they have to take orders from a woman and the woman was fired from her job when she was just doing her duty. I would hope that virtually all Americans would be outraged but for some reason DADT is treated as a legitimate idea to be debated.

  • I Served in Silence

    The scariest thing I ever had to do while serving in the military was to tell somebody that I was interested in that I am Bi. This is exceptionally scary as there are good odds that the person you’re interested in is also in the military, and if you’ve misjudged their beliefs they can out you and get you tossed. Just the act of being honest with somebody I cared for had me sweating bullets in fear.

    I went through this three times. Twice with women and once with a man (all three were fellow Air Force members). I’m very lucky that all three were okay with my sexuality. I dated two of them and eventually married one of them. I probably would have stayed with my one time boyfriend if not for DADT. It made my relationship with him impossible when we were reassigned. If you think long distance relationships are hard, try having a same sex relationship long distance in the military. It doesn’t work. I’m incredibly lucky that I went on to find somebody I care for as much as I care for my wife, but there are times I can’t help remembering how much I loved one young man 18 years ago. Times that I wonder what could have been.

    Even now that I’ve retired from the military I still worry about being outed. After 20 years of military service the jobs that I am most qualified to do are all military. And while it is harder to fire a civilian employee than a military member I’m not willing to risk my potential for promotion. I have no doubt that my military supervisors can make life difficult if they want. I’m more open about my sexuality with my friends, but defiantly not open around work.

    I’m Bi, not gay or lesbian. The gay or lesbian members have it even harder. It’s almost impossible for them to find and stay with somebody they care for if they choose to stay in the military. It forces people to break up and destroys loving and caring relationships. It’s just plain wrong to do that to anybody.

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  • Robin

    I have also understood fom friends who have served (we’re mostly in our 30s, so Iraq and Afganistan), that often, fellow unit members are completely aware of the gay/lesbian folks in their midst and are complicit in hiding them. I don’t know how common this is, or if my sample is biased because of the sort of people I am friends with.


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