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Tilting at Windmills

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July 19, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

GAYS IN THE MILITARY.... Good news: according to a new Washington Post poll, just about everyone now favors allowing openly gay recruits to serve in the military:

Support from Republicans has doubled over the past 15 years, from 32 to 64 percent. More than eight in 10 Democrats and more than three-quarters of independents now support the idea, as did nearly two-thirds of self-described conservatives.

....Fifty-seven percent of white evangelical Protestants now support allowing openly gay service members in the military, compared with 82 percent of white Catholics and 80 percent of those with no declared religious affiliation. Three-quarters of both married and single people support the idea, both significantly higher than in 1993.

It looks like the American public is finally growing up.

Kevin Drum 1:19 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (48)

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Comments

American public growing up or American public realizing we're running out of gun fodder?

Posted by: Be All You Can Be on July 19, 2008 at 1:28 AM | PERMALINK

Everyone except the actual military right?

Posted by: MNPundit on July 19, 2008 at 1:32 AM | PERMALINK

Gays with guns = fabulous!

Posted by: Not that kind of hummer on July 19, 2008 at 1:38 AM | PERMALINK

Well, polsters lie. Particularly when it come to sensitive subjects like race or homophobia. Both run far higher than the acceptance figures you show. Racism runs at 66% of populace per this years UN survey of the US, which I think may be low.

So, yes, I'd far rather have an intelligent gay holding the gun rather than some sub-level fellon the army is now accepting. But I think you've rather jumped the gun about acceptance in the population and acceptance in the armed forces.

Posted by: notthere on July 19, 2008 at 2:11 AM | PERMALINK

What's the objection to gays serving in the military again?

Posted by: Swan on July 19, 2008 at 3:27 AM | PERMALINK

"What's the objection to gays serving in the military again?"

They might peek at naked men in the showers or stick their penises in soldiers' mouths when they're sleeping.

Posted by: Bruce on July 19, 2008 at 4:08 AM | PERMALINK

Notthere has a point. Problem is, the military these days, particularly the officer corps, is drawn heavily from the minority demographic answering "no" to the question -- white, southern, evangelicals. So even if opinion overall has shifted on gays in the military, the president who finally decides to pull the trigger and lift the ban is going to face a lot of blowback (ahem) from the brass.

Posted by: jonas on July 19, 2008 at 5:40 AM | PERMALINK

"Well, polsters lie. Particularly when it come to sensitive subjects like race or homophobia."

Indeed. That's mostly because they try to tell people what they think they want to hear. Odds are, acceptance of race and homosexuality is much higher than reported, but there are some with a vested interest in spreading the perception that America is intolerant. Fear is a useful way to try to control people (just look at the pointless fearmongering from Republicans).

Fortunately, most people in this country have more sense that (remember all the "Where's the outrage?" articles during the Lewinsky "scandal"?)

Posted by: Hal O'Brien on July 19, 2008 at 6:18 AM | PERMALINK

The American public - growing up!?!

Get some rest, Kevin....

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on July 19, 2008 at 6:49 AM | PERMALINK

Growing up? More like a generational change as the 'gay = perversity' mindset slowly dies off (literally), and the legions of gay = normal' come into political maturity and take their place.

Posted by: Auster on July 19, 2008 at 8:07 AM | PERMALINK

"It looks like the American public is finally growing up." - kd


One would hope, but remember the military were taking low level felons not so long ago (then there was a flap...not sure how that turned out) My point being, when they are low on cannon fodder they are willing to make amends.

Posted by: benmerc on July 19, 2008 at 8:43 AM | PERMALINK

Well, yeah, now that there's a significant chance of getting killed, lots of people are okay with gays in the military. They can get rid of the gays when the war is over . . .

Posted by: rea on July 19, 2008 at 9:04 AM | PERMALINK

Homophobia is like cancer. Just when you think you've beaten it into remission it roars back and reasserts itself with all its painful agony.I don't look for Congress to exhibit any courage on this issue. Hating on gays is the far safer path to choose.

Posted by: steve duncan on July 19, 2008 at 10:05 AM | PERMALINK

It looks like the American public is finally growing up.

More like a generation of superstitious morons died off.
.

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan on July 19, 2008 at 10:34 AM | PERMALINK

What's the objection to gays serving in the military again?

If we're not mean to gays, the Magical Sky Fairy will take away His protective hand, and we'll get another 9/11 again.

Or some such superstitious horseshit.
.

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan on July 19, 2008 at 10:37 AM | PERMALINK

Bruce wrote:

They might peek at naked men in the showers or stick their penises in soldiers' mouths when they're sleeping.

And how is that different from what the heterosexual Red state recruits are doing already?

Posted by: Swan on July 19, 2008 at 11:23 AM | PERMALINK

Well, those special forces berets are already WAY GAY, so what's the big deal?

Posted by: red@cted on July 19, 2008 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

Of course we're fighting turkeyshoots and have a 277 to 1 kill ratio in Iraq, so a PC military hasn't really been tested against a real adversary. I'd go with military advice on this, as long as it isn't obtained under duress.

Posted by: Luther on July 19, 2008 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

a PC military hasn't really been tested against a real adversary

So your advice to the military is: "Buy a Mac."

Posted by: thersites on July 19, 2008 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

Jonas wrote: “the military these days, particularly the officer corps, is drawn heavily from the minority demographic answering "no" to the question -- white, southern, evangelicals”

You could have said the same thing in 1947 when Truman integrated the armed forces. One thing about the military, and particularly the officer corps, once the decision is made and the orders are given, they shut up and get on with the mission.

Posted by: fafner1 on July 19, 2008 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

It looks like the American public is finally growing up.

You know, I have no objection to gays serving in the military. But the next time you or the rest of the Dems whine about being portrayed as out of touch and condescending to the general population, try remembering asshole comments like this.

Posted by: Cal on July 19, 2008 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

Amazing how even the small possibility of seeing another draft in one's lifetime can change opinion.

Posted by: aline on July 19, 2008 at 8:59 PM | PERMALINK

It looks like the American public is finally growing up.

Really, Kevin. I know you're down in Austin Texas at a convention of liberal bloggers who are talking to each other about how vital their opinions are, but try not to be such an elitist ass, will you? The American people get along just fine without you and the 25 people you manage to get to post on your threads here.

Posted by: Pat on July 19, 2008 at 9:12 PM | PERMALINK

Hey Pat--you belong on sean hannity's blog. Get along, now, you ass. Get on somewhere else with your negativity. More silence from your ass, please.

Posted by: Kevin's bloggers on July 19, 2008 at 9:19 PM | PERMALINK

Pat--good news. Hannity's America is on cable tv right now! Tune in there, tune out here!

Posted by: Kevins's bloggers on July 19, 2008 at 9:35 PM | PERMALINK

What do the people who actually know what they're talking about, such as those in the military, think?

Posted by: Steve Sailer on July 19, 2008 at 11:10 PM | PERMALINK

I believe that people of all sexual persuasions should be prohibited from joining the military.

Posted by: olo on July 19, 2008 at 11:55 PM | PERMALINK

I think that for the sake of military security, it would be wisest to encourage any closeted gays to disclose their sexual orientation, and to make sure that such disclosure will not harm anyone's career in any way. After all, those who have embarrassing secrets (or secrets that could end a military career) are vulnerable to blackmail.

Posted by: Joe Buck on July 20, 2008 at 12:36 AM | PERMALINK

Support from Republicans has doubled over the past 15 years, from 32 to 64 percent.

That really does surprise me, and I have to think that the strain of Iraq on the military is a big part of it.

Posted by: Nell on July 20, 2008 at 10:32 AM | PERMALINK

Really, "Kevin's Bloggers." Wag your finger at the American people some more. They really need your wisdom so that they can finally "grow up."

Posted by: Pat on July 20, 2008 at 10:39 AM | PERMALINK

A critical missing piece:

A new poll reveals that 73% of military members say they are comfortable around lesbians and gays. And 23% say they know an active duty soldier in their unit who is lesbian or gay…. More than half — 55% — of the troops who know a gay peer said the presence of gays or lesbians in their unit is well known by others. […]

So both the American public AND the active military are in line on this.

So much for Pat's "elitist" twist. Gays in the mlitary is now overwhelmingly supported by all Americans.

Posted by: zoe from pittsburgh on July 20, 2008 at 11:14 AM | PERMALINK

Something tells me that Pat finds himself in a lot of minority camps these days-- among Bush's 27% and the 25% of Americans who think that gays and lesbians serving openly in the military is a "threat."

The world is changing around you, Pat, and there is very little you can do about it.

Posted by: zoe from pittsburgh on July 20, 2008 at 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

Is it elitist to say that many of us are simply waiting for Pat's generation to die off so we can see some progress?

Posted by: Gonads on July 20, 2008 at 11:27 AM | PERMALINK

Actually, Zoe, I fully support gays serving openly in the military, as well as full gay marriage. I also support ENDA and am a long time Member of the Human Rights Campaign. What I DON'T support is people like Kevin who sniff that American's who don't share my opinion haven't "grown up." That's the sort of elitist comment that drives people away from the Democratic party. It's intolerant. And it's just not smart politics. As someone who lives in Pittsburgh, you might want to look around at the history of those you and your fellow citiznes have sent to Washington to get a good idea of who comments like that alienate. For someone whose neighbors were decisive in electing Rick Santorum, you probably ought to know that.

Posted by: Pat on July 20, 2008 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

You're complaining about other people's commenting tone and lack of tolerance, Pat? Are you fucking joking? Get thee to a therapist. Maybe you and Jerry can get a 2 for 1 anger management special.

Posted by: on July 20, 2008 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

You're a real piece of work, aren't you?

I don't understand how it's elitist to celebrate that the vast majority of Americans have finally "grown up" and gotten over their ignorant prejudice against gay and lesbian people-- people like me.

As for bringing up Santorum, what does that have to do with anything? He was an embarassment to PA and I don't think anyone who was a strong Santorum supporter is reachable as a Dem. So who the fuck cares if they think we're elitist because we reject their views? As far as their concerned we're all going to hell anyways.

Posted by: zoe from pittsburgh on July 20, 2008 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

"What was the objection to gays serving, again?"
__________________

The objection was always related to the issue of unit cohesion. As the late Charles Moskos explained it, the problem has never been homophobia, per se. Rather, the presence of gays presents about the same problem that the presence of women has always presented.

Regulations governing sexual relations notwithstanding, issues stemming people in heterosexual relationships are the leading cause of disciplinary problems in all the Services.

According to Moskos, unit cohesion is threatened when people in the same unit are sexually involved because the suspicion that lovers might give their partners special treatment. Any perceived unfairness, whether it is a nasty job assignment, promotion preference, or a being chosen for coveted school, can lead to jealousy, rumors and hard feelings. This is especially true when a couple is involved. While a certain amount of this can be tolerated and lived with, sometimes a series of such incidents begins to erode unit cohesion, with cliques and hard feelings that threaten unit capability.

This is one of the reasons why units intended to undergo extended periods of close combat are still all male. The theory is that, while most of the military can afford the loss of cohesion, close combat units cannot. Because there is no physical reason to exclude gay men from close combat units, the don't ask, don't tell policy is thought to be the only way to avoid the having the same unit cohesion problems crop up in the direct combat units.

Combat being a chaotic situation, a commander's challenge is to overcome the chaos and complete his (or her) mission. The reluctance to allow gays to serve openly is directly related to the desire to avoid those kinds of issues the military sees every day in mixed gender units. It really isn't about gays as individuals, but about the group dynamics of people under stress.

Someone upthread mentioned that our military hasn't faced a peer competitor for some time, which is true. How much social engineering can be absorbed in our military structure is always going to be an open question. Until we meet that peer competitor and we find out what works and what doesn't.

My own experience with gays in the military is probably much the same as anyone else's. The very occasional approach from a gay doesn't bother most people. But friendships with someone who is known or suspected to be gay can suddenly be perceived differently if circumstances give rise to suspected favoritism. The suspicion that anyone, straight or gay, got special treatment because of who they were sleeping with can be very poisonous, even if it isn't true.

Posted by: trashhauler on July 21, 2008 at 12:13 AM | PERMALINK

Congress should repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" law because the presence of gays in the military is unlikely to undermine the ability to fight and win, according to a new study released by a California-based research center.

The study...conducted by four retired military officers "shows that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly is unlikely to pose any significant risk to morale, good order, discipline or cohesion ...."

To support its contention, the panel points to the British and Israeli militaries, where it says gay people serve openly without hurting the effectiveness of combat operations.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/25575198/%3Cbr%20%3E%3C/a%3E

Posted by: yeah, it's homophobia on July 21, 2008 at 1:13 AM | PERMALINK

transhauler: Lots of other armies around the developed world now accept openly gay soldiers, including the British Army, which I think even the chickenhawks regard as a real combat force.

Why not find out how they handle those issues?

Posted by: Robert Merkel on July 21, 2008 at 1:22 AM | PERMALINK

Brave kids sign their posts. And why it matters, Zoe, is because if you didn't discuss things in such obviously elitist terms, you might actually get some of those votes PA has lost, and not repeatedly elect embarassments. But maybe you're feeling smart is more important than actually winning. By all means, continue to scold those who disagree with us.

Posted by: Pat on July 21, 2008 at 10:24 AM | PERMALINK

"The study...conducted by four retired military officers 'shows that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly is unlikely to pose any significant risk to morale, good order, discipline or cohesion ....'

To support its contention, the panel points to the British and Israeli militaries, where it says gay people serve openly without hurting the effectiveness of combat operations.
___________________

Well, I hadn't realized the University of California, Santa Clara had become such a hotbed of military sociology, but you learn something new every day. Not that it necessarily reflects on the study results,anyway. Without access to the study itself, it's hard to tell exactly how it "showed" anything, but it really doesn't matter. This issue will be decided on political grounds and in that arena any rationale will do, so long as it is politically powerful.

Two things come to mind about the foreign militaries approach. Neither the Brits nor the Israelis have faced a peer competitor in some time. For that matter, it wasn't so long ago in these spaces that some posters were crowing about how inept the Israeli military had become.

Posted by: trashhauler on July 21, 2008 at 10:41 AM | PERMALINK

"Why not find out how they (the British and Israeli militaries) handle those issue?
___________________

It is often difficult to penetrate behind the scenes in another country's military to discover how things are really done. The US has more contact with foreign militaries than anyone else. In our experience, the actual procedures and practices often differ quite a lot from the official policy. Hard information is often hard to come by. For example, in smaller militaries, the assignment process can be whickered in a number of ways without officially discriminating on any particular characteristic. Elite units are often "hand-picked" or screened in ways not readily apparent to outside observers.

That route will never be tolerated in the US military. If told to ignore sexual orientation, the US military will roger up, salute smartly, and make it happen, regardless of whatever train wrecks it might cause down the line.

Posted by: trashhauler on July 21, 2008 at 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

Well, I hadn't realized the University of California, Santa Clara had become such a hotbed of military sociology

Given your demonstrated lack of accurate knowledge about topical military affairs, your unfamiliarity in this instance is unsurprising.

it's hard to tell exactly how it "showed" anything

Unwilling to take the word of officers who don't agree with you? Petraeus is always correct but these guys are suspect?

Doesn't matter, you can read their detailed findings on the web, which are not inconclusive in the least.

but it really doesn't matter. This issue will be decided on political grounds and in that arena any rationale will do, so long as it is politically powerful.

Is that why you're so busy creating bogus political arguments against it, to ensure it isn't decided on empirical grounds that make you...uncomfortable?

Neither the Brits nor the Israelis have faced a peer competitor in some time.

Nor has the U.S.

For that matter, it wasn't so long ago in these spaces that some posters were crowing about how inept the Israeli military had become.

Take your lame-ass shit elsewhere. Red herrings about what some guy said on a blog have nothing to do with the actual state of the Israeli military, or the fact that 99% of the posters here would acknowledge they are an effective fighting force.

Posted by: trex on July 21, 2008 at 11:07 AM | PERMALINK

Actually, has anyone ever seen Pat and Jerry in the same room? Hmmmm.

Good morning, trex.

Posted by: shortstop on July 21, 2008 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

trex, your obvious personal animus is tiresome. Insulting me does nothing to improve the dialogue, nor does it enlighten anyone. It just shows you to be an obnoxious ass.

The point made what people think about foreign militaries is that opinions don't matter much when the fecal matter hits the rotary blades.

You either know that and are ignoring it, or you don't know it and are simply mouthing off. Either way, knee jerk rejection of my every point doesn't refute them.

Posted by: trashhauler on July 21, 2008 at 11:39 AM | PERMALINK

What do the people who actually know what they're talking about, such as those in the military, think?

They think that they should do what their civilian commanders tell them to do.

Posted by: Military Guy on July 21, 2008 at 11:48 AM | PERMALINK

trex, your obvious personal animus is tiresome

I think you'll find that it is not personal at all as I respond to all right-wing trolling the same way; particularly when it involves factual inaccuracy, casual dismissal of human suffering, or justification of lawbreaking in the furtherance of a political agenda.

The insults are your reward for doing all three of these in excess on this blog.

Posted by: trex on July 21, 2008 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

trex, the only one exhibiting troll-like behavior is you.

Posted by: trashhauler on July 21, 2008 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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