If you or someone you know is in the military, you may be aware that a survey went out to (I believe) all members of the armed forces asking their opinions on the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. In addition, 150,000 randomly selected spouses were sent a similar survey. I was one of those picked to provide feedback on the potential repeal.
Now, reasonable people agree that employers have the right to discriminate in hiring based on certain criteria. For example, a hospital may require that employees hired to be physicians actually have a medical degree and be certified by a board. A fire department may require that firefighters meet a certain physical fitness level. We WANT employers to discriminate on such a basis. Nobody wants his appendix removed by an 18 year old high school graduate. Nobody wants a firefighter with an impaired arm running into his burning house to retrieve his sleeping child.
But reasonable people may disagree on whether the military may use sexual orientation to discriminate. If they can do the job, physically and mentally, then they should be able to serve, many argue. This is the same argument for women serving in the military. The fact that these employees serve in extremely close quarters for long periods of time, go off for a year or more together away from their families, and that many of these jobs require supreme trust in each other and that lives are at stake, does not matter to some people. And that’s fine.
If repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell were merely a matter of allowing gays to serve in the military, we could restrict the discussion to civil liberties and justice. But it’s not “just” about gays serving in the military. Oh, no.
The Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell questionnaire I received began innocuously enough. Select which things motivated my husband to serve. Would a repeal make my husband more or less likely to remain in the military. Would a repeal make me more or less likely to recommend military service to others. If there were a repeal, select the ways in which I would prefer to be educated about the changes. Select the resources I would use if I had questions or concerns about the repeal.
And then, the survey asked me about housing and how I would feel about living in a neighborhood with a gay couple. It asked me about resources, services and support systems for military families and if I would be more or less likely to use them if gay couples used them.
For those of you not in the military, I must explain a few things about military life and being a military dependent. A soldier gets a base salary. On top of that, the soldier receives special pay depending on his/her job and duty location. The soldier also receives something called BAS, which is a food allowance. Lastly, soldiers receive BAH, or a housing allowance. The BAS is a flat rate per soldier (enlisted get more than officers) and is not tied to family members. The BAH is based on rank and on marital status. The higher you are in rank, the more you get. Married soldiers get more than unmarried soldiers (you do not get more if you have children).
If a soldier lives in military housing (on or off post) he will not receive the BAH. The rent of a military house equals the BAH. Single soldiers (generally) live in single soldier housing. Married soldiers live in family housing. An unmarried soldier with children will live in family housing if the children live with him/her. Girlfriends and boyfriends of soldiers do not have the right to live in military housing. If you want to shack up, you live in civilian housing off post.
If Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is repealed, it seems that the military will be required to accept not just gay service members, but gay couples and families as well. What does that mean in the big picture?
Right now, gay marriage and/or civil unions are legal in only eight states and DC. Thirty-six states have made it illegal (thirty have it in their constitution). If Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is repealed and gay service members are granted recognition of their partners as military dependents, that is the same thing as having the federal government bless gay marriage.
This is, by the way, how segregation was destroyed in America. Most of the country was not segregated. Unfortunately, the South was, and the military was as well. It took a generation, but once the military enforced integration, it paved the way for the federal government to ban segregation nationwide. That was a good thing.
Segregation is wrong. Ending racial discrimination is good.
Repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell will give gay marriages and families federal recognition and federally funded privileges (housing, medical and life insurance, death benefits, and other services). This will completely undermine states’ efforts to protect and preserve traditional marriage, the foundation of society.
Destroying traditional marriage is not good. Therefore, repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is not good.
Great post. I had not looked at it this way, although we are both opposed to the repeal as well. Just another reason why. My hubby got the survey for the soldiers and was appalled at how it was supposed to be “anonymous”, but had all this identifying information on it, including him having to type in military identification information in order to even access the survey. Made us wonder how many of the rank and file will actually complete it, if they are worried about their CO being able to access their responses. It will be interesting to watch how this plays out.
Fortunately, mine was on paper and had no identifiers, so it WAS anonymous. Wonder how many soldiers will be less than honest in their answers when it appears they can be traced.
Thank you for this post, you gave me some new insight (as usual).
Neither of you touched on what else could/would happen if “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is repealed. If you are straight & your “boss” is gay, what will there be to stop him/her from bullying you into a relationship – whether you are married or not? Not only do promotions/demotions hang in the balance, but so do assignments. If you are threatened with being sent to Afghanistan just because you want to stay straight, will you knuckle under to the threats to avoid the risk? Will you be beaten to a bloody pulp if you complain to anyone? How will you deal with a “buddy” in a foxhole who won’t leave you alone?
The reason for “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” is to keep the gay troops from being bullied. This keeps your “boss” from harassing you about your sexual preferences, trying to force you into straight relationships, sending you to unpleasant assignments just because you are gay, and telling you that if you complain to anyone, you’ll get the daylights kicked out of you.
It works both ways.
If “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” is repealed, how many scandals will there be? How many suicides will there be? (Think of the case of the pretty 15 year old girl who committed suicide after being cyber-bullied. Did they threaten to make her life even more miserable if she told anyone?)
Food for thought, not only on this subject, but bullying in general.
Feel free to add my rant to yours.
This is crazy! I can't believe the survey has so many identifiers for the active duty responders. There is no way they are going to get an accurate portrait of what the American soldier thinks about the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
You are absolutely right, Michelle. The real intention here is to get the Federal Gov't to bless gay marriage in this back-handed, back-door way. We have been strongly discouraging our children from following in their father, grandfather, and great-grandfather's path by joining the armed services. We can't imagine our children serving in the military after so much sewage under the bridge.
So well put, as always.
I have heard some whisperings of how this will affect military chaplians. If being gay in the military is accepted and saying something against it is cause for reprimand, then a Catholic priest could get court marshalled for refusing to give communion to a known homosexual or sharing Church teaching in a private conversation. This might end priests serving because what bishop would allow a priest under him (all military priests have special dispensation from their diocese to serve) to have a gag on his speech?
I was sharing this thread with my husband the other day and he said the EXACT same thing. So many different reasons why this is bad, bad, bad.