Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

Monday, March 23, 2009

The "don't ask, don't tell" policy has been part of the military for 15 years now and Pres. Obama has said it’s time to repeal it. Drawing on more than a decade of research and hundreds of interviews, Nathaniel Frank claims "don’t ask, don’t tell" is damaging, not only to the gays and lesbians it targets, but to the military as a whole. His book is called Unfriendly Fire.

Event: Nathaniel Frank will be talking and signing books
Wednesday, March 25th, at 7:00 pm
NYC LGBT Community Center
208 West 13th Street
For more information, call 212-620-7310.


Nathaniel Frank

Comments [22]

Martina Sternberg from Indiana

I am a heterosexual that served 20 years in the military before retiring. My dad, brothers, brothers and sisters-n-law served, I have 5 nephews and a daughter who are currently serving. I think I can say I know A LOT about military culture. I have served with gay comrades for many years and just as heterosexuals, they have served with honor, integrity and professionalism. I would trust them with my life and give my life for them. In my earliest days in the military my room mate in the dorm was lesbian and it didn't bother me - she was a great person. We would rather lower standards and allow rapists and others into the military instead of letting gay people serve. My daughter was recently sexually assaulted by someone in her battalion because we are allowing rapists to serve. Not only is my daughter going to Iraq in August to fight the enemy, the enemy for her also wears the same uniform as she does. Over 23 countries allow gay people to serve without incident. Canada recently allowed gay people to serve openly and in so doing, the number of sexual assault cases on females in the military declined by over 40%. Allowing gay people to serve openly would allow us to again increase the requirements for military people to join and decrease sexual harassment and assault on females who are serving.
As for the person above who said enlisted people are less educated. I take offense to that. I was enlisted and have a doctorate (that means a PhD). Enlisted people are just as educated and professional as officers - thank you very much!

Apr. 05 2009 07:25 PM

so then let ask a question. what exactly do you have to do to be outed as a gay soldier, besides coming out and telling your superiors?

Apr. 03 2009 12:05 AM
Coty May from Ohio

I am a gay member in the US Army. I live single and I am SO afraid of finding love these days. I live in depree and some shame. I worry everyday about losing my job and the way the command looks at a gay military personal after the fact is known sickens me. I can not understand why the US keeps trying to keep us under raps. Most of the world's Armies are open to gay even countries like China. We are a "free" country some would say but to be 100% honest. I am looking into leaving this country and joining another countries Army. I have served with gays in other Armies and they had no issues at all. They worked together and worked VERY hard. Why must America be so different? When are we as people going to finally truely be free?

Mar. 30 2009 09:17 AM

VOICE OF REASON!!! I have met many heterosexual officers who have talked about how the people that made them into who they are today were gay. I'm guessing that you are enlisted because you sound a little uneducated and sound like you have no basis other than religion for your opinion which is fine. I wonder how you would feel if your Lt or higher someone that always was there for you and someone you looked up to turned out to be gay. I wonder how you would feel after that. Would you turn your back on that same person who had your back? Probably right? Because thats what a marine does? You need to look up the definition of a US Marine... You're not even supposed to have an opinion on this matter. You serve this country first and foremost not your own personal views. I hope you get out of the Corps with that IRRATIONAL opinion. For you to bring up religion as your argument isn't a basis. There are many gay people who are religious. Being religious doesn't mean you have to AGREE with everything thing written in the bible. And to be quite honest, just because you are around someone gay does not mean they want YOU!!!
Do you like it when people believe everything about the marines due to what they see in the movies? NO!!! Because half that stuff is untrue!! SOOOOO don't believe that all gay people are trying to do you or whatever you think they are trying to do. Did you choose to join the military? yes!!! Did you choose to be born whatever race you are? no!! Thats exactly how it is being gay... And furthermore, how can you comment on something and how people think when you aren't them and you don't live their life ( and that goes for anything)? Think about what you say or write before you say or write it!!! And try to have more facts and research before you form an opinion.. I promise you might get a lot further in life..

Mar. 26 2009 05:02 AM

Are you in the military Mike ( the first comment)? If you were then you would be quite aware of FRATERNIZATION. People in the same unit may NOT date!! Maybe you should do some fact checking before you make dumb comments. Also, look at it in this context. Maybe black people should be separate from white people in the military and maybe black people should hide being black in the military as well after all they were born that way right? Forget Civil Rights in the Military. Forget that the military fights for you to have all the rights you want, but then again those soldiers who are fighting in the wars shouldn't have any rights because this "free" country is only for those who aren't gay, right?!! Try to put yourself in a gay persons shoes. Get over the sex part and look at the true love. Not all gay people are the same just like all white people aren't the same neither are all black people. Heterosexuals are averaging 50% in divorce rates... I could guarantee that Gay marriage divorce rates would be in the 80-90% rate. Let the world and society evolve and get out of the times when black people were punished because of the color of skin they were born with and women not being able to vote and now gays can't get married or have civil unions that will give the same rights as a heterosexual. This is just a modern day DISCRIMINATION!!!!

Mar. 26 2009 04:46 AM
Richard Pierce from Brooklyn

On today's show, Leonard Lopate used the term "sexual preference". This is not a matter of being PC or overly sensitive, but it's crucial that this term not be used when referring to GLBT people. The instant you use the word preference, you, unintentionally or not, support the argument that blacks and other minorites have civil rights because they were born that way, whereas gay people don't deserve these rights because they choose or "prefer" to be gay. Disabusing people of this notion is fundamental to achieving equal rights for GLBT people. When I heard Mr.Lopate say "sexual preference" the first time, I thought it was a slip of the tongue. The second time I cringed. That term is damaging and inaccurate. Sexual orientation. Please.

Mar. 23 2009 09:44 PM
Eric from New Jersey

I meant 'it's *not* for fun'... but I think you guys get the point.

Mar. 23 2009 02:22 PM
Eric from New Jersey

Excuse me, but how exactly is 'gayness' irrational? Who's the judge who's declared this irrationality? Last I remembered, I never 'chose' to be gay.

Unlike what some of the posters have written, it isn't *hip* to be gay. Quite the contrary. Why would anyone in their right mind willingly choose to live as part of subculture that's at odds with their families and threatens to rip relationships apart.

You're born gay. End of story. I was born like this, it's not a lifestyle, it's not a choice, it's for fun.

I see no reason why gays should have to have the extra burden of hiding their identities while serving in the military. It's who you are.

Are we next to hide the fact that we're left-handed or have green eyes? Talk about absurdity. Especially from the some the comments written in this section.

Mar. 23 2009 02:21 PM
voiceofreason from Columbia

Do gay people go boasting about their sexual preference on regular job applications? No. Then why should they do that in the military? The military is not a place to sexually express yourself. If gays can't handle that they should not even toy with the idea of serving. After all, it is about your country, not you. I would certainly not be comfortable taking showers with gays. Also, I find it hard to imagine that I, or any of my friends in the USMC could give due respect to an officer knowing that he is gay.
Gayness is interently irrational. As much as you liberals pride yourself on tolerance, you cannot deny that two men having sex with each other is irrational and goes against God/nature (whatever oders the universe). If an officer cannot even control his/her urges to have sex with something unnatural, I could hardly trust their judgement on life or death decisions.

Mar. 23 2009 02:11 PM
the truth from Atlanta/New York

I think some people think that if allowed to "tell", that some soldiers will start to behave differently.

I think most fear the "mannerisms" of the openly gay.

Mar. 23 2009 01:58 PM

The bottomline:

For a gay person to go through all of this garbage to serve his/her country for low pay and, to put his/her life on the line is far more of a patriot than me. I have never had any desire to join. My view, is you care that much about your country to go through this nonesense then you deserve all the help in getting into the military and staying in the military

Mar. 23 2009 01:53 PM
the truth from Atlanta/New York

Wow, do we really need a law ordering the military not to ask and for the gay person not to tell. What are the consequences of the ask? the tell?

You gay men and women should be focused on one thing besides your safety over there (especially friendly fire) and that is fighting for your Country and coming home safely. Not trying to hook up!

Mar. 23 2009 01:53 PM


Mar. 23 2009 01:50 PM
NJTom from Bayonne, NJ

Isn't it possible that what conservative military personnel fear is confronting their own homo-erotic feelings? “No gays” could be their way of suppressing their own feelings.

Mar. 23 2009 01:50 PM
Dubai-Boy from UK

Mr. Franks presumptive language and promulgated book (this interview notwithstanding) presuppose homosexuality is real science. There is no scientific consensus that homosexual behaviour is any kind of science. It anything but. I am indifferent to the lifestyle - but I know a party when I see one! ;)

It is clearly a disproportionately christian-rebellious, European male LED subculture. So be it. Go have sex! But don't purport that any other society (especially the totalitarian organisation of the military!) agrees with this mythology. Its bloody boring.

Stop with all this philistine rubbish.

Mar. 23 2009 01:48 PM
Paulo from Paterson

Listening to this criteria for being officially classified as "gay" goes to show our absurd attitudes towards homosexuality as a society. Enjoying or participating in things that are deemed to be culturally "gay" like fashion, musicals, or Anne Rice novels apparently don't make you gay. You are only gay if you are attracted to people of the same sex and engage in sex with people of the same sex. That's it.

Mar. 23 2009 01:37 PM
CG from Manhattan

Some of your guest's comments seem to suggest that the policy allows one to engage in gay conduct in secret. Am I mistaken in the understanding that the policy requires celibacy in addition to silence?

Mar. 23 2009 01:37 PM
Ben Spatz from Murray Hill

Please connect this conversation to the incredibly high levels of rape and sexual abuse against female soldiers in the US armed forces. The fear of gays in the military is related to the massively heterosexist and hyper-masculine culture of the military. Part of the urgency of this topic is not merely about stopping discrimination against gays and lesbians, but also about reforming military culture so that women are safe when they are serving their country.

Mar. 23 2009 01:37 PM
Erin from Brooklyn

Your guest seems to be using exclusively male pronouns, and I wonder if he has any comments on the difference of treatment between gay and lesbian people who serve in the military?

Mar. 23 2009 01:36 PM
Jonathan from Washington Hgts

I just got back from my year in Iraq on active duty with Army. Irony of DADT is that we go through extensive quarterly Equal Opportunity training and focus on respect as an Army Value. Sadly, however, this doesn't include respect for who people actually are, which kind of limits the use of "respect" as a core value.

Mar. 23 2009 01:34 PM

I got it!

Have lesbians serve with men. And have gays serve with women. Then its the same thing as having same sex units.

Mar. 23 2009 12:38 PM

Would having gay and lesbians bunk and live seperately alleviate the problem? This way the heterosexual soldiers won't have any issues showering or undressing in front of them.

Plus what if you have two gays who have a relationship and they serve together? If there is a problem in the battlefield, won't the gay soldier be under pressure to (since he maybe in love) jeopardize the mission on behalf of a loved one?

Isn't similar to men and women serving together, creating a relationship and causing issues in the battlefield?

Mar. 23 2009 11:58 AM

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