Thursday, May 22, 2008

Gays and the military

The 9th Court of Appeals has reversed a lower court and this issue is going back to court. I am cross posting this comment I made on TalkLeft.

Before I start let me note that I have commented many times on gay rights, including marriage and I am uncomfortable with the current "don't ask don't tell." Now to some thoughts.

Having spent 10 years in naval aviation long before "don't ask don't tell," I can tell you that no one cared what the sexual orientation of the other person outside of a few individuals. The issue was: Can the person do the job.

Believe it or not, the military is composed of fairly small units responding to orders of larger units. Squad to platoon to company, etc., in the army, similar in the Navy, Marines and Navy. This structure has not changed. The success or failure of these "fighting units" depend on many variables. But chief among them is absolute confidence in each other. I have seen crew members who could do the job rejected by the crew as a whole for, in some cases, no visible reasons. In the end, the person either becomes part of the group or must leave. Strangely enough, in many cases the individual recognizes this and asks for a change, and goes on to another group and many times succeeds.

In the ten years of my service I knew of about 11 individuals who I felt were gay. Of the 11, 2 were arrested off base for solicitation of homosexual sex, and two on base for consensual homosexual sex. All received undesirable discharges.

Of the other 7, and I would say there were others, there were no problems. Simply put, the standard was "don't ask, don't tell and don't get caught."

In reality that has not changed.

And in reality the issue is not a military problem but a societal problem. When gays are accepted with no exceptions as civilians, no problems will exist in the military. Unfortunately we aren't there yet.

Will forcing the issue in the military correct the problem?

I confess that I do not know. But I do know that if you take a group that is performing well and insert someone that the group doesn't accept then you have a group that will start to be less effective. This is not good in the civilian world. It is a formula for disaster in a military. And the reason does not matter.

In this life we all become engaged in trade offs. We join teams that demand we practice at certain times in certain places and that we do certain things as team members.

When you join the military you accept the rules. You have no "right" to join. Perhaps the individual should accept the rules and go forward with their life.

Perhaps it is time to the tell military that their rule is wrong. But let us understand something.

If you do you will not know what the results are until the next time the results must be equal to are better than they are now.

The current rules are hard on the individual, but the results are an outstanding military. Be careful what you ask for. You may not like what you get.