The Complexities of Repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Welcome to Politics Bites, where every afternoon at It's a Free Country we bring you the unmissable quotes from the morning's political conversations on WNYC. This morning on the Brian Lehrer Show, Kevin Baron, Pentagon reporter for Stars and Stripes, joins Michelle McCluer, executive director of the National Institute of Military Justice at American University Washington College of Law, to discuss the implementation and possible complications that will arise around the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

On November 30th, the Defense Department published their report on the issues associated with a repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," and on Saturday, it was repealed. But there are still plenty of unknowns to talk about around dropping DADT.

For instance, when it comes to harassment, Michelle McCluer says that what already happens in the military to manage this will likely continue. Among the measures, for example, are yearly trainings on harassment issues.

There is already built into that, a component of not harassing people because you think that they're homosexual.. I think that would be beefed up quite a bit under the new policy, but ... I think that the response from the military is going to be, deal with it.

The responsiblity of this transition lies with the military leadership, McCluer says. Kevin Baron agrees and adds that this isn't a completely unfamiliar time for the military. During racial integration, and when women were first permitted to serve, there was always talk of soldiers refusing to re-enlist as a result. This time around will some soldiers not re-enlist with the integration of openly-gay service members in the military?

The Pentagon thinks, based on the report that no, there's not going to be a wave of people exiting rather than re-enlisting... the report says, historically this just didn't happen and they're not afriad that it's going to happen despite the statements of Congressmen and others who say they've heard the same thing by some of their commanders, so we'll have to just wait and see.

McCluer also sees the similarity between the upcoming integration and previous integrations in the military, but also sees one big difference.

When you talk about integrating females or integrating the races, that was something that was visible...and I submit that it may actually be less of a disruptance, less upheaval in the military with this change because unless an individual basically outs themselves, it's not as if everyone can go around, even if the policy changes, and say, who do you want to sleep with... so I really think there's going to be less of a problem, less of an issue than the historical context we brought up.

According to McCluer, another unknown is for the group of discharged individuals who were involuntarily separated because of DADT who now, after its' repeal, want to re-enlist. These folks may still have a hurdle to jump.

They usually have a code that will not permit them to re-enlist in the military... but getting that code changed, and whether that's going to be, if the Pentagon is going to say that needs to be a case by case basis or whether it's going to be a blanket, we're going to change everybody's re-enlistment code who was kicked out under the policy. That's all up in the air at this point.

Baron says there's also a handful of legal opportunities ahead.

Everything from on base housing, when a couple, married couple, a gay couple will not get any of these benefits because...can they list their partner as next of kin if they get injured or killed? What will happen when the first transgendered person walks onto the recruiting site? You know, there are a lot of issues like that that people have really kicked the can on and we'll see how many of them the advocacy groups want to test.



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Comments [25]


Bring back the draft!

Dec. 22 2010 12:36 AM
cwebba1 from Astoria

Since the Bush administration there has been a concerted effort to infiltrate and enlarge the contingent of chaplains in the U.S. military by evangelical activists. These chaplains are not representative of an American ideology. The very fact that they are ideologically driven exemplifies why they do not belong in the military of the United States of America. These ideologues, embedded in the American industrial military complex, will be difficult to dislodge, but dislodge we must. Chaplains are in the military to support the troops. No tears need to be shed over their ideological conflicts to serve. Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out, I say.

Dec. 21 2010 10:34 AM
Montoya from Queens

The art of distracting the media is alive and well....

Dec. 21 2010 10:29 AM
Ken from office

Ken, this is a non issue.

Dec. 21 2010 10:29 AM
Montoya from Queens

The art of distracting the media is alive and well....

Dec. 21 2010 10:28 AM
Dashiell Eaves from NYC

Regarding the chaplains and the sin of homosexuality -- as my wife said this morning, "you know what else is a sin? Killing people."

Dec. 21 2010 10:28 AM
Kat from Brooklyn

What happens when these guys who claim they won't reenlist find out that one of their best buddies in the military is gay? I hope ultimately that people will acclimate but that in the meantime the military will work hard to make sure that gays aren't treated violently while enlistees make the transition.

Dec. 21 2010 10:28 AM
Alex from NYC

About the type of military troop who threatens not to re-enlist in the face of the repeal of DADT: this kind of person clearly lacks the necessary self-awareness and courage even to see and face his or her own fears and bigotry: we don't need this kind of individual to "serve." This kind of ethical and moral flat-footedness is a liability to both our culture and our military. Period.

Dec. 21 2010 10:26 AM
The Truth from Becky

Why are we talking about what happens now? Should of thought of that beforehand...whatever happens...happens now.

Dec. 21 2010 10:24 AM
Alex from NYC

About the type of military troop who so lacks the necessary self-awareness and courage even to see and face his or her own fears and bigotry: we don't need this kind of person to "serve." This kind of ethical and moral flat-footedness is a danger to both our culture and our military. Period.

Dec. 21 2010 10:24 AM
Alan from Jersey City

The fear of pushback and harassment of GLBT service members is fair, and while it's true that there may be some initial surge in anti-gay behavior, that doesn't take into account the positive effect of soldiers coming out. As people are able to speak openly about their sexuality with their peers, this will undoubtedly have a mitigating effect and allow those with conservative views to work through and potentially reevaluate their beliefs.

Dec. 21 2010 10:24 AM
Tom from Upper West Side

If homophobes won't re-enlist, the military will be better - and stronger!

Dec. 21 2010 10:24 AM
bernie from bklyn

so the status of 14,000 potential americans in the military out of 308 million americans in this country is dominating the media coverage right now. this is another case of those in the news media dictating and being "tastemakers" for the american people. ratings are of the utmost importance , not providing information and knowledge that is MOST RELEVANT to the american people.
this is such a non-issue but it sparks debate so therefore the media will saturate the airwaves with it.
brian- you and most of your colleagues should be ashamed of yourselves. hopefully the art of journalism will make a comeback one of these days. who will be the next bill moyers or is he the last of a great line of journalists?

Dec. 21 2010 10:22 AM

Along with implementing DADT - how does the military address troop cohesion when some of the soldiers are not US citizens? And how does a non US citizen enlist?

Dec. 21 2010 10:21 AM
Rick from Connecticut Coast

People are asking what to tell soldiers who are upset or have religious qualms about the new policy? Tell them that when the enemy fires on them and you are bleeding to death, the gay man on your left may be the one putting on a turnequet on your gushing wound.

Dec. 21 2010 10:21 AM
John from Inwood

Repeal of DADT is a great accomplishment, maybe now the Christians against it can get to work on the "thou shalt not kill" idea.

Dec. 21 2010 10:20 AM

what is the military's stance on open homosexuality in countries where it is very taboo, even illegal?

Dec. 21 2010 10:16 AM
Ken from Little Neck

John from office - I hope the answer would be he'll stop once gays are given the same rights and privileges as everybody else. As long as they are a minority being denied basic civil rights, it's a subject well worth talking about.

Dec. 21 2010 10:15 AM

Wow, even more don't ask don't tell coverage. Can we possibly move off of this relatively unimportant issue? I honestly think that most people (including your listeners) really don't care about this.

Dec. 21 2010 10:13 AM
Arnold from Brooklyn

Can a serviceperson cut his service short honorably on the grounds that he never volunteered to sign up for this regime?

Dec. 21 2010 10:13 AM
Latilla W from Brooklyn

Please not again, there are so many pressing issues facing the nation of which this is not even on the top 100.

Dec. 21 2010 10:12 AM
John from Office

Brian, to compare blacks being integrated into the armed forces to Gays being allowed to openly serve is comparing apples and Oranges. The gays have always been there, just not openly serving.

Brian, read the papers there are other things happening in the world, not gay oriented.

Dec. 21 2010 10:12 AM
Jim Crutchfield from Long Island City

Ask the Dutch! They dealt with this years ago.

Dec. 21 2010 10:11 AM
John from office

Brian, another segment on this. Are you kidding. When are you going to stop pushing the Gay agenda. I am glad this was repealed, but another day on this. You have such a Gay agenda, if not same sex marriage, its gay rights, I and I believe alot of your fans, and I am a fan, are tired of your single subject fixation. Jesus, bring back Wilileaks and do another 100 shows on that.

Dec. 21 2010 08:45 AM
John from office

Brian since you care soooo much about the armed forces, lets have some segments with American heros who have served with distinction. Did you know or care that the first death in the Iraq war was a Dominican American, did you do a show on that. NO, you did not. But if it was a homosexual you would have done several shows on that. Let this go please. If you respect the military soooo much, have some true American heros on that served their country with distinction, not with another agenda.

Dec. 21 2010 08:45 AM

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