November 30, 2010

(Don't Ask and Don't) Tell it to the Marines

So the long-awaited survey of military personnel shows that for the most part there is little concern about gay and lesbian persons serving in the military without keeping their sexual orientation a secret. About seventy percent of those in the survey (and at over 100,000 it was a large sample!) said changing the present rules which require such military folk to conceal their secret identity, would either be positive or neutral. That leaves about thirty percent who are concerned about negative effects.

Perhaps the most interesting statistic, since this is about a "known known" that would come about by reversing DADT — that is, it is not about sexuality or sexual activity, but the knowledge that a gay or lesbian person is serving with you — reveals that of the 79,385 troops who believe they have already worked with a gay or lesbian colleague (that's 69% of the total) 73,035 said the experience was positive or neutral — 92%. So almost all of the people who think they know either approve or don't care. Perhaps we should call it "Don't Care, Do Tell."

Isn't that almost always the way with things one fears? Knowledge casts out fear. Getting to know a gay or lesbian person, realizing they are good and effective soldiers, sailors, warriors and citizens is the most effective way to break down the irrational fear that goes by the name homophobia. If a dude saves your life, you won't mind that he's gay.

Of course, there's the Marines. A larger proportion of them have problems with this "known unknown." This is not unexpected. Lord knows they fear being labeled "Semper Fay." Still, such unreasonable prejudice should not be tolerated. Since when is the military a democracy? Marines, suck it up! The gays won't hurt you. Why, some of you are already there.

Here's to hoping Congress makes a positive move towards a more just, truthful, and representative military. Lying is not good for unit cohesion.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG


James said...

I find it interesting that 58 percent of the USMC are against the repeal. That's more homophobic than the civilian population.

Of the 100s of military personnel I know, I know more gay Marines than all the other branches put together.

Brother David said...

Perhaps the fact that the majority of US Marines are against the repeal is because their commanders have been so vocally opposed to it, even while the survey was taking place.

The rank and file reflect the caliber/prejudice/cowardice of their leadership.

Paul said...

It is my understanding that the survey was very biased and pushed for an anti-gay response. This makes the response all the more remarkable.

JCF said...

Neither of your statements surprise me, James (Marines are disproportionately phobes, Marines are disproportionately gay . . . perhaps some of the Marine phobes are gay!)

Paul said...

I think the approximately 70% who did not care enough to respond is also significant. It would seem those most disturbed by the issue would have taken the time to complete the survey. It is going too far to say that 70% simply yawned but I suspect there is some truth to such a characterization.

WSJM said...

Back In The Day, before DADT when it was simply NQ Period!, the rationale (as I understood it) was that you don't want somebody in the foxhole with you who is hitting on you. Well, I guess that's fair enough, although it's pretty difficult to imagine that actually happening under combat conditions. But did women in the services -- BITD mostly nurses and clerks -- get hit on by male colleagues? (I'll let them speak for themselves.) Now that there are significant numbers of women in the armed forces, including in actually if not technically combat roles, the real issue may be getting clearer. Sexual harassment in the workplace is absolutely not acceptable -- whether it's M/F, M/M, F/F, or whatever. It's not acceptable in the military, it's not acceptable in the Church, it's not acceptable in the office, it's not acceptable in the factory, it's not acceptable in the shop. Not anywhere. Perhaps someone might like to do a study of military personnel who are vigorously in favor of DADT (and would really prefer NQ), and their relationships with colleagues of the opposite sex.

This is a good posting, Tobias. Thanks.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Thanks, IT. I've cited that paper in my thesis on liturgical theology for same-sex blessings.

Here is the correct link to the articles itself. Groundbreaking work.

And thanks to all for your cogent comments!