AmeriCAN-DO Attitude

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Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell — What is Most Important? The Individual or the Mission?

Absolutely great discussion going on in the comments of this post at Blackfive: Against DADT Repeal

This great comment by Cassandra addresses my stand on the issue better than I ever could (and better than I tried to do in the comments there, as evidenced by the jackass tool calling me a disingenuous liar):

Cassandra said…

Gryph’s comment, in an odd way, sort of encapsulates the gap between where Grim and I (and others) stand and where Jimbo and Gryph stand on this issue.

To Gryph and Jimbo, the most important consideration seems to be the individual “right to serve”. Jimbo, at least, admits that repealing DADT may have some negative consequences just as allowing women to serve absolutely had some very negative consequences. He dismisses those, rightly or wrongly, by saying in effect, “If you allow women to serve and that caused problems, by what rationale do you prohibit gays from serving openly?”

I happen to think that’s an excellent argument. If you think the support of some individual right to serve is the most important consideration (and here I would note this mysterious “right” isn’t shared by people like my youngest son who played halfback in soccer for years and was in top physical shape, but whose VERY mild asthma disqualified him from serving in the armed forces) then I think you must come down on the side of repeal.

Again, there are many, many broad categories of people who AREN’T allowed to serve, though many of them would cause no more trouble or inconvenience that this change will bring. So… do we do away with all disqualifiers? What about people who are mildly overweight but physically fit? I know a lot of folks like that. What about people who are just too old, but can run marathons? They’re being discriminated against as a class of people too.

If you truly believe that the individual “right to serve” (a right, by the way, found nowhere in our law or Constitution), then all disqualifiers short of disability so severe that it presents an absolute bar to service must be done away with. Otherwise you are privileging gays over other equally capable folks who would, at the individual level add require little marginal effort to include.


If, on the other hand, you believe that efficiency and mission effectiveness are the most important considerations, you should probably oppose repeal.


We do not keep men and women separate because they are more horny than deranged minks. The vast majority of men and women would probably be able to adjust to sharing rooms, bathrooms, bunks. As I commented on the other post however, the vast majority of human beings don’t rape, murder, or steal. We have laws against rape, murder and theft because of a minority who, for whatever reason, don’t control themselves.

Personally, I have no moral objections whatsoever against homosexuality. We have a family friend who is retired military and gay. I have no idea whether he knows we know he’s gay because we are not in the habit of discussing our sex lives with those in our social circle. We did not know this man when he was still serving, but if his personal habits and life are any indication, he was a fine officer. He is extremely intelligent, attentive to detail, physically fit, and possessed of a fine character.

I come down where I do on this issue because almost uniquely among the professions, the military requires the submersion of individual identity. It requires even heteros to give up many rights (such as conjugal rights) for long periods of time. If you can’t control your sexuality (and the presence of gays in the military proves that the vast majority of gays CAN do so just as the vast majority of heteros do), that’s a problem.

Again, the problem with admitting women wasn’t the majority who control their sexuality, but the minority who don’t. I believe the same will be true if DADT is repealed – the vast majority of gays will go on behaving with integrity and decorum and some minority will not.

The difference is, unlike the minority of heteros (male and female) who can’t control their themselves, there is no way to separate gay servicemembers of the same sex. So we will end up doing something we have not done before – bunking people who are naturally sexually attracted to each other together. Congress will have to repeal the part of the UCMJ that deals with fornication (sex outside marriage) because gays can’t marry in a lot of states. Single heteros can marry if they want to have sex w/out violating the UCMJ. What do we tell single gays? To give up on sex?

That’s nuts. So that’s one reg down.

Believe it or not, the Army doesn’t discharge HIV positive individuals anymore. So we have decided that in addition to all the other dangers of war, we are adding a new danger – the danger of being infected by blood, which we all know is a fact of life in battle. Another stupid regulation – my son can’t serve b/c he has asthma but someone with a communicable disease that raises the cost of health care and can be fatal can serve? Why is that?

I am female. Some females could serve in the combat arms. When I was 23 I could easily pass the MALE Marine pft, but by law I could never serve in combat. Why discriminate against me simple on the basis of my sex?

Answer: because my individual “right” to serve wasn’t the most important consideration. I agree with this, even though it is undoubtedly “discrimination” and undoubtedly “unfair”.

So in the end, it really does come down to this: what is most important? The individual? Or the mission?

Reply December 06, 2010 at 04:13 PM


December 6, 2010 , 6:42PM - Posted by | Don't Ask Don't Tell, GLBT Movement, Homosexual Movement, Military

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