Monday, January 26, 2004

Gays in the Military: Thinking Ahead 
The military is not going to go back to the old, pre-Clinton policy of directly asking recruits about sexual preferences. That genie has left the bottle.

Now, think ahead five or ten years. Read the political ti leaves. Look at the polling data. Look at the explosion of gay and lesbian student clubs even on high school campuses now. Does anybody really think the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy is going to survive another decade intact?


If you’re a military officer or NCO, and you think allowing openly gay men and women to serve in the military is a dumb idea, because it would cause disruption in the ranks (and it would), then good on you. You’re looking out for your unit, and you’ve identified a risk to good order and discipline. But here’s a pointy-ended question:

What are you doing to mitigate that risk?

Here are the facts as I see them:

1.) As things stand now, any openly gay soldier stands a good chance of getting his ass kicked in the barracks by the dumbest 5% of losers in the unit. I believe some of them will be murdered.

Hey, it could happen.

2.) The don’t ask, don’t tell policy will very likely be repealed or substantially liberalized within the next decade, or as soon as a Democrat enjoys a second term with a Democratic majority in both houses of congress. Perhaps even sooner.

3.) That gives us, as leaders, perhaps 8 to 10 years to change the climate in the military.


I don’t think it’s a good idea to go cold-turkey now. An immediate lift on the ban on homosexuals in the military would amount to a death sentence on one or two random recruits who may not understand the level of homophobia that now exists in the ranks.

But a climate in which 85% of soldiers believe that bigoted remarks are tolerated to some extent cannot be considered an acceptable state of affairs.

Arguing that ‘homosexuality is incompatible with military service’ is like arguing that a North Korean invasion is incompatible with Asian prosperity. You can argue until you’re blue in the face, and it doesn’t even matter if you’re right. The North Koreans will come or not come according to their own logic, and your sole responsibility is to prepare your troops for their arrival.

Prepare your troops.

They’re coming.

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