3 years, 10 months ago
Admiral Mullen weighed in with the Senate Armed Services Committee today on DADT:
Adm. Michael G. Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in an appearance before the Senate Armed Services Committee that the military would follow the 1993 law known as “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Nonetheless, he said, his personal views were firm.
“Speaking for myself and myself only, it is my personal belief that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly would be the right thing to do,” Mullen said …
“No matter how I look at the issue,” he said, “I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens.” he said.
An impassioned plea, it was. Of course, this is technically incorrect. Don’t ask don’t tell (DADT) means that no one lies. You aren’t asked, and you don’t discuss it. I have been loath to weigh in on the issue as it has come to the forefront over the last couple of years, and I will do so only tangentially now (not weighing in on the merits or lack thereof in a particular lifestyle choice). I have many things for which I want to be an advocate, and many notions I wish to deconstruct (such as the unproven and unsubstantiated doctrine that softer ROE necessarily wins hearts and minds). Hot button social issues such as DADT can tend to cloud one’s judgment, making the reader dismissive to other arguments about very different and very important things. So I don’t want you to dismiss my views on other important things because we don’t see eye to eye on DADT.
But in the end, DADT has been a mainstay of operations for a while now, and revoking this policy might mean more than a little change to the military. It’s appropriate to convey the thoughts of at least a few contacts active in the military. My contacts – who by the way aren’t opposed in principle to the idea of gays serving alongside them – seem to pan the idea pretty much across the board.
DADT is the perfect policy, they say. It doesn’t prevent gays from serving in the military. That’s just a mythical talking point of those who advocate its revocation. DADT only prevents open discussion or practice of such things. It is, by the way, similar to the way heterosexual relations are treated as well. Men stay away from women altogether in uniform. It isn’t practiced, it isn’t discussed, it is frowned upon – in theory. This isn’t to say that it doesn’t happen, any more than DADT would imply that gay sexual relations don’t happen. It does mean that there are certain requirements in the military that comport with good discipline, and they are enforced to the extent possible. For a branch like the Marines which has as their cornerstone removing differences and enforcing sameness (or at least relegating them to unimportant status – e.g., no one can remove language barriers), it probably will have a significant affect.
Now for my own views. I thought about this position within the context of the only exception that I can think of, namely, marriage. Men and women are allowed to be married in the military. But marriage is not performed by the Marine Corps or Army. It is performed and recognized within and by states which have laws that govern such things. Imposing homosexual marriage on a branch of the service just to say that there is no exception to the way gays and heterosexuals are treated under DADT is a false dilemma. It is imposing a foreign problem on the military – a consideration that should be irrelevant to the conversation.
In a republic such as ours, laws are changed by legislative process which usually begins with advocacy. One group or another wants a law changed or enacted, and that group presses the issue. If gays want to marry, changing DADT isn’t the way to go. Changing laws is the way to go. No gay marriage (insofar as DADT applies) in the military (similar to no gay marriage in most states) is an output (or outcome) of the debate, not an input to it.
In summary, DADT is the perfect solution to the issue. There is to be no sexual relations with other service members, and no discussion of it. This is true regardless of orientation. DADT is a subset of that regulation, not an exception to it. It doesn’t prevent gays from serving in the military. Its revocation would serve no useful function, and therefore TCJ opposes its revocation unless someone can come up with something better than the false mantra that some service members must “lie about who they are.”