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Military brass: Stupid better than Gay

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Military brass oppose lifting gay ban to boost troop levels

Majority favors lowering educational standards

By CHRIS JOHNSON, The Washingon Blade

Despite recruitment challenges plaguing the U.S. military, the majority of high-ranking military officers do not favor allowing gays to serve openly in the military as a means to increase troop numbers, according to a recent survey.

Conducted by the Center for a New American Security and released in the March/April edition of Foreign Policy, the survey found that only 22 percent of officers support eliminating ?Don?t Ask, Don?t Tell? as a means to increase recruitment.

The Center gave the survey to 3,400 military officers with a rank of major or lieutenant commander and above ? top brass in the U.S. military.

Retired Navy Capt. Joan Darrah, a former intelligence officer and lesbian, downplayed the results of the survey because it was given to officers of high rank who tend to be in an older demographic. She said this demographic ?is absolutely out of touch? and has ?no idea that the studies show [how many] gay people don?t re-enlist because they are tired of living under ?Don?t Ask, Don?t Tell.??

Men made up 97 percent of responders for the survey; 72 percent of responders were at least 61 years of age.

Darrah said considering their age, it was actually ?pretty good? if 22 percent of responders believe in allowing gays to serve openly.

When asked about other ways to increase recruitment, 78 percent favored trading citizenship to immigrants for service, 58 percent favored lowering education standards and 38 percent favored reinstating the draft. Seven percent favored the increased use of criminal and health waivers.

To demonstrate the recruitment problems the military has faced in recent years, Foreign Policy notes that last year the Army had a shortage of 3,000 captains and majors and that this deficit is expected to double by 2010.

Victor Maldonado, spokesperson for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, said the Center for a New American Security consulted older officers who tend to be ?slightly more conservative than their younger peers.?

Maldonado also said the survey is ?at odds with the positive data? on gays serving openly. He pointed to a May 2007 poll indicating that 79 percent of Americans believe that openly gay people should be allowed to serve in the military.

Darrah also took issue with how the Center gathered its information through a survey and not a poll. She said gathering information through a survey means ?you send it out to a bunch of people and some people answer and some people don?t, so it?s totally unscientific.?

Reichen Lehmkuhl, a gay former Air Force captain and author of ?Here?s What We?ll Say,? a book recounting his experience in the U.S. Air Force Academy, said the survey had ?no-better-than deplorable? results. He said he does not believe the survey accurately reflects what officers think.

Lehmkuhl said he is involved in a study that is examining the views of 40 straight military officers and their views of gays in the military. The officers are almost unanimously for the integration of openly gay service members as long as sexual conduct is kept to the standards of professionalism, he said.

A gay active duty junior naval officer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said he believes that allowing gays to serve openly ?is the right thing to do,? but added that he thinks that not enough gays are willing to serve to make a difference in recruitment.

?All the people that say, ?Hey, let?s allow gays in the military,? who wouldn?t serve in the military themselves and the type of people that do serve in the military don?t necessarily care that they serve openly or not,? he said.

The junior naval officer also said if he were given the survey, he would have answered that gays should be allowed to serve openly, but he would secretly think it would not ?make an effective difference? in increasing recruitment.

Gary Gates, a research fellow at the law school at the University of California in Los Angeles, estimated in a 2005 study that 41,000 men would be available for service if the military lifted ?Don?t Ask, Don?t Tell.? Gates said the number is based on the assumption that gay men would enlist in the military in the same proportion as straight men.

Gates estimates that about 14,500 gay men already serve in the military, or about 1.2 percent of men in active duty. Lesbians already serve in the military in a higher proportion than straight women, Gates said.

Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.), the lead sponsor of a bill that would repeal ?Don?t Ask, Don?t Tell,? said she was ?not surprised? with the results of the survey because responders ?were promoted in the last eight years by ultra-conservatives like President [George] Bush and [former Defense Secretary] Donald Rumsfeld.? Tauscher added that ?Don?t Ask, Don?t Tell? hurts retention and discourages ?some of the best and brightest? from joining the military.

?The American people are for repealing this policy and those who are behind the times on this issue should understand that this type of bigotry cannot stand in America, and certainly not in the American Armed Forces,? she said.

Darrah said she served in the Navy for more than 29 years while remaining quiet about her sexual orientation.

?I ? lived under ?Don?t Ask, Don?t Tell? and don?t know how I did it,? she said.

She said she would never encourage anyone who?s gay, no matter how capable, to join the military and live under the policy.

The junior naval officer said if the military changed its policy, openly gay troops would initially face hostility.

?You?re going to get a lot of discrimination, you?re going to get beatings, [and] you?re going to get harassment,? he said. ?I think it?ll eventually go away and diminish down to nothing, but in the immediate future ? you?d have some major problems.?

The junior naval officer said his inability to serve openly makes no difference in his job.

?I think ?Don?t Ask, Don?t Tell? is discriminatory, but I don?t have any problem with it,? he said.

Some of his colleagues know his sexual orientation, he said.

?The only reason my colleagues know ? is, for one, one of them was a woman who was interested in me and I had to end that, just because I wasn?t interested in her at all,? he said.

The officer said he also told several colleagues with whom he lived about his sexual orientation because he didn?t want to ?keep them in the dark.?

The effect of coming out to his superiors would depend on whom he told, the officer said. His immediate boss wouldn?t care but higher military leaders would, he said. The officer said the head of his directorate ?would fire [him] on the spot.?

? 2008 | A Window Media LLC Publication

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Well, I'm a bit of a wuss, and maybe a pacifist too, although I'm not sure about that latter, since I've never put myself in a dangerous fight situation, but frankly, I'd be glad to us my orientation to stay OUT of the military. That said, I also think that if it were to be changed, and the openly gay can serve, I feel they should be allowed to initially at least, serve together. The chance of random violence from fellow members of the military would be less if the odds were more even. I would be much more comfortable and secure being with a group of other gays, than a single gay guy in a group of straights.

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This is how I feel about it. I don't mean to direspect anybody but with all that has happened, I just don't get a gay/bi person even wanting to be a part of the military.

They don't fight for us, as it stands now, only a sap would fight for them.

Let the f-ing breeders kill each other and let us have the good sense to stay out of it.

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This is how I feel about it. I don't mean to direspect anybody but with all that has happened, I just don't get a gay/bi person even wanting to be a part of the military.

They don't fight for us, as it stands now, only a sap would fight for them.

Let the f-ing breeders kill each other and let us have the good sense to stay out of it.

What better reason to join than to help change things. If all gay/bi people quit the military and no new ones joined there wouldn't be any reason to change the policy. It is also about more than your sexual orientation. Passing the initial and difficult training and then being able to serve your country can mean much more to some people than being open about their orientation. It might be hard for an outside observor to justify hiding their sexuality and relationships just to serve in the military, but in some aspects it's more than worth it or even the risk of being "found out".

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In addition to the other comments, the practicalities of the DADT policy and discrimination attitude become costly...and I'm not focusing on money. I've read that we can't keep enough Arabic language translators in the war/anti-terrorism effort because of...guess the sexual orientation of many of the translators.

And I recall the recent situation with this hunky medic sargeant. His skills were so needed that his commanding officer refused to accept the sargeant's admission that his was gay. Even when he showed the officer a picture of the medic and his lover kissing.

Jack :smile:

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