Why DADT?

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

Let me start this post by stating I think Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell should be repealed, and that homosexuals should be free to serve openly in the military. I also think it’s shameful that people who have served their country honorably, and in some cases have risked their lives, have been discharged because of whom they choose to love. In cases like the linguists who were dismissed for their sexuality, DADT has also likely harmed national security.

That said, I find it interesting that military service became such a touchstone issue for gay rights. After gay marriage, it’s really the gay issue right now. I’m a white, straight male from suburban Indiana. So I haven’t suffered much discrimination in my life, save for rarely getting a foul call when I play pick-up basketball at the Y. (That’s a joke. It’s true. But it’s a joke.) But I’d think if I were a member of a group fighting for equal treatment, the right to go off to die in the pet war of whoever is currently occupying the White House would pretty low on my list of priorities. I’d think this would be especially true of the gay community which, if I may stereotype, I’d guess on average is less militaristic and gung-ho war than the general population. (If there’s data showing that I’m wrong here, I’m willing to be wrong here.)

Gay marriage is probably the only gay rights issue that gets more attention than DADT right now. And prioritizing gay marriage makes sense. But there’s comparably little coverage, debate, or discussion, for example, about laws against gay adoption, which it seems to me affect a much larger percentage of the gay community, deal with a much more basic right, and are quite a bit more damaging, both to gay parents who want kids and to the kids who legislators have decided are better off in a group home or rotating through foster homes than in stable homes with same sex parents. (Some of these laws bar adoption by unmarried parents gay or straight, but in states that forbid gay marriage, the effect is to bar gay people from adopting).

Or how about the fact that federal law basically bars private employers from offering the same health insurance benefits to domestic partners that they do to married hetero couples? Some companies do offer such benefits, but the employed partner is taxed at such an obscenely high rate for the partner’s benefit that the benefit becomes far more expensive than it’s worth. (I’m speaking from experience—I signed on for my ex-girlfriend’s former employer’s domestic partner health insurance benefit a few years ago, and we were surprised with a monster tax bill the next year. Even the company’s HR people weren’t aware of the penalty.). I should add here that I’d ideally like to see health insurance severed from employment. But if the tax benefit is there, it strikes me as patently unfair to give huge tax breaks to committed heterosexual couples, but effectively negate any efforts of private employers to offer committed homosexual couples the same benefit (domestic partners benefits are taxed as income on both the employer and employee side).

I guess my point is that there has been a lot of political capital spent on getting DADT repealed, and it seems to me that while the resulting benefit would be symbolic and obviously important to the gay servicemen and women who would be able to serve without being required to lie about who they are, the population of people directly effected seems to be comparably small.

This isn’t necessarily a criticism. I’m genuinely curious, and wondering if anyone has theories as to why this particular issue has become so heated.

MORE: Just to clarify, when I wrote “I’d think this would be especially true of the gay community which, if I may stereotype, I’d guess on average is less militaristic and gung-ho war than the general population,” I wasn’t referring to stereotypes about masculinity. I was referring to the fact (at least I think it’s a fact — a very cursory Google search seems to bear it out) that the gay community disproportionately aligns with the left, and gay activists with the far left, which I think would suggest that they’re more likely than the general population to be be both anti-war and generally anti-military. (If there are public opinion polls showing otherwise, show me!) My point is, given that, it seems counterintuitive that the right to openly serve in the military and fight in wars would become such a priority.

That said, I think the comments below about symbolism and the added insult of  discrimination coming directly from the federal government make sense.


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117 Responses to “Why DADT?”

  1. #1 |  Bob | 

    Boyd:

    Do you realize that what you’re saying is that if you want to do ANYTHING in conjunction to your uniquely specified contract that codifies your unique and special cohabitation arrangement, that you will need a Court Order to do it?

    What, you think you’re just going to walk into a hospital where your wife is recuperating, slap down a contract and expect everyone there to just instantly honor it?

    Marriage is a contract. It’s body is the aggregation of the state laws regarding it. If it weren’t for religious people both in government and exerting their influence on people in government, it would be just that simple.

  2. #2 |  Whim | 

    Fay:

    The Israeli military is being infected by left-wing Political Correctness as is our military.

    In Israel, the country is subjected to those left-leaning Israelis/Jewis Americans who move back and forth between the U.S. and Israel.

    It will be the death of the efficacy of the Israeli society and might of their their once mighty armed forces.

    Their entire country is one lost battle away from total annihilation of every man, woman, and child.

    The old immigrant Israeli knew that the Arab was their mortal foe and implacable enemy: Ben-Gurion, Golda Meir, Begin, Abba Eban et al knew what they were fighting for.

    Witness the Israeli Army’s recent “tie” in their fight against Hezbollah in southern Lebanon.

    Such a pathetic display of weak esprit-de-corps to not vanguish the Arab enemy, and send the few survivors running shoeless all the way back to their Syrian and Iranian sponsors.

  3. #3 |  Nick | 

    The late great Bill Hicks on gays in the military.

  4. #4 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Bob,
    That’s not at all what I’m saying and that’s not what I expect to do if called into a hospital.

  5. #5 |  paranoiastrksdp | 

    Whim, political correctness does not mean you can’t be a bigot anymore. By all means fly your bigot colors loud and proud. It just means that you’ll be held accountable for it. I’m sorry it’s not 1951 anymore and you can’t bash minorities with impunity, but as Bob Dylan said, the times, they are a changin’.

    Also please enlighten us on how TEH GHEY!!!1!1!1!1One11 caused the IDF to lose in Southern Lebanon. Should be good for a chuckle.

  6. #6 |  BamBam | 

    #97. the word license implies that the behavior is illegal without said license. Government has no business being involved in relationships, or as you call it “a contract”. There are other solutions other than government.

  7. #7 |  Max | 

    Whim, as one of those wacky “moving back and forth between Israel and America” types, I can say with 100% certainty that you haven’t the faintest idea what you’re talking about.

    Jim Collins and Stephen…guys! You totally know each other!

    Jim, you say it happened 23 years ago. Stephen says:
    “Nope and my story was from about 20 years ago. Damned hard to find any links to back me up.”

    Seriously, if you guys both want to email me as a neutral third party, and exchange phone numbers and find out the details here, let’s make it happen. This is so exciting!

  8. #8 |  Stephen | 

    #100 | Matthew |

    I wish I could give you more than one thumbs up.

    The last two paragraphs of that post pretty much sum up what I believe. Neither the pink tutu nor the playboy are acceptable. As far as I am concerned, they are both wrong in the workplace.

  9. #9 |  Stephen | 

    Oh, and the playboy probably happens a lot more than the tutu.

  10. #10 |  ParatrooperJJ | 

    quints – They won’t be kicking them out for being homosexual, they will be kicking them out for a court martial conviction. None of the current legislation effects UCMJ in any way and federal civilian courts (district or appeals) have zero jurisdiction over UCMJ convictions. They can, have, and will continue to convict under Art 125. CAAF case law is quite clear on this issue.

  11. #11 |  Jim Collins | 

    It’s a matter of public record.

    Jacksonville, Florida 1987-88

    The man killed was Ronald Yarbourgh
    The man who had him killed was Charles Jackson
    The man who killed him was Richard Deacon.

    As I said pre-internet days. I’m not interested in spending the money to be able to search the online database of the local newspaper.

  12. #12 |  JOR | 

    I think it would be awesome if having gays in the military got lots of soldiers killed.

    Sadly, despite the worst conservitard nightmares about pink tutus and limp wrists and dropped soap, gays are probably as good at being disciplined professional murderers as straights.

  13. #13 |  Scott | 

    Radley,

    I’m a gay libertarian whose boyfriend is in the miitary, so I can offer a bit of perspective.

    First of all, a couple of logic flaws: Don’t confuse the amount of publicity an effort garners with the amount of effort actually being placed in the battle. We both work in the media. We both know that national issues are bound to get more coverage than state issues.

    Also, don’t succumb to false choices. It’s not as though fighting against DADT makes it impossible to fight for other gay rights issues. There are gay organizations devoted to each of these various causes.

    The reason those two issues get so much attention is because there is so much resistance, same as gay marriage. The adoption battle is a state issue and the opposition is losing (see today’s announcement that Florida won’t fight the ruling that they can’t block gay adoption).

    I can assure you that all of these issues bounce around the gay community. That they aren’t more dominant in the media is more of a reflection of which issues the non-gay public is passionate about.

    Amusingly though, my own boyfriend doesn’t care whether DADT actually goes away or not. He has no intent on talking about his personal life in his line of work anyway. I’m more concerned about it because I tend to talk without thinking first and I worry I’m going to out him.

  14. #14 |  wsad | 

    Why the hell has no-one mentioned the spartans? Gay couples going out together in a war is historically fearsome.

  15. #15 |  lunchstealer | 

    I think the biggest reason is that it’s a clear and open form of discrimination on the part of the federal government. As long as the military is free to bar homosexuals, it gives pretty strong cover to others who want to discriminate against gays. After all, if the Army can do it, it’s just patriotic to hate the gays, isn’t it?

    It’s a pretty strong symbol that double standards for gays are A-OK.

    And for the government to send that sort of signal is not OK.

  16. #16 |  charles | 

    didn’t read any of the comments, all I can say is that there are an AWFUL lot of conservative gays out there, you just don’t see them because they don’t make a big deal out of it and reject it as a major part of their identity unlike many gay men that buy the lie that when you come out you have to behave a certain way and forsake masculinity thus making themselves more obviously visible. that’s not to say they don’t want marriage equality or the repeal of dadt.
    there are average joes that are gay in small towns everywhere that share the conservative values they grew up with (minus the homophobic ones). gay people can be just as stupid and brainwashed and nationalistic as straight people to think that joining the military is a good idea in the first place.

  17. #17 |  Chasing Fat Tails | 

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