Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 15, 2005
By: Kevin Drum

DON'T ASK DON'T TELL....Jim Henley points us to a report from the Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military that suggests the military isn't quite as anti-gay as it claims to be:

Scholars studying military personnel policy have found a controversial regulation halting the discharge of gay soldiers in units that are about to be mobilized.

....Gay soldiers and legal groups have reported for years that known gays are sent into combat, and then discharged when the conflicts end....But the Pentagon has consistently denied that, when mobilization requires bolstering troop strength, it sends gays to fight despite the existence of a gay ban.

Reasonably enough, Jim suggests that this undermines the entire case for keeping gays out of the military:

Recall that the respectable case against allowing out homosexuals to serve in the military is that it will undermine unit cohesion in the stress of battle. Keeping gays and straights apart in hostilities is what the policy is supposed to be for. If the problem isnt enough to keep gays out of the wartime Army, its certainly not enough to keep them out of the peacetime Army.

True enough. Still, we're left with the original question itself: does the military suddenly discover that unit cohesion can survive the presence of gay soldiers perfectly well whenever they also discover a more urgent need for units? Do they stop enforcing their anti-gay policy when a war starts and their need for boots on the ground outweighs their need to placate social conservatives?

My contribution to this question is the chart on the right, which shows the number of discharges under the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy. Is that peak in 2001 just a coincidence? Or did something happen that year that might have caused the military to suddenly decide that a good soldier is a good soldier regardless? I'm sure it will come to me if I think about it a bit....

Kevin Drum 5:22 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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