March 29, 2006

If you had to accept gay marriage or gays in the military...

Which would you pick?

(A question aimed, obviously, at readers who are opposed to both.)

Explain your reasons.

ADDED: Feel free to comment if you're in favor of both or one but not the other. Feel free to talk about the relative importance of the two goals, as well as the relative damage -- if that's the way you see it.

94 comments:

luagha said...

I'll take gays in the military. We already have female bomber pilots kicking Islamofascist scum butt, now we can have gays get in on the fun. Really, confronting them with their own inadequacy at every turn is the only hope we have of getting them to face reality.

Abraham said...

I'm really much more concerned with process than outcome. That said, gays in the military is less likely to be imposed by judicial fiat.

bearing said...

Military.

There's nothing inherently paradoxical about "gay person" and "soldier" being the same person. All objections that can be raised are, in the end, pragmatic-type reasons, not existential ones.

But "man's spouse" and "man" being the same person doesn't compute. Sorry.

JimNtexas said...

The living quarters issue is to me the main objection to allowing openly gay persons in the military.

Unlike the civilian world, military people are often compelled to live in crowded communal dwellings of one sort or another. It's complicated enough keeping the straight boys and girls segregated. Throwing openly gay people in the mix seems really undesirable to me. And please, don't compare the military living situation to college dorms. There is no comparison.

I suppose the military could just throw up their hands and let everyone live together in one barracks building or tent. Just the ulimate in Big Love, but with guns. That'll work well...NOT.

Gay marriage will come, but it must come through votes of elected officials, not judicial fiat.

Ehud Blade said...

I'd rather see an all-gay-married military.

Save money. Contraception and child care costs would cost the U.S. military budget -- nothing. We wouldn't need money for JAG intel officers investigating allegations of ho-ho homo humping in the barracks. Incorporate hip-chic principles in, "Open Marriage," anything goes. More dough for bombs. Our biggest war would be, "honey, who gets the remote tonight?" Or, "can we watch Bird Cage, again?"

It's a forced-false question. Blog-addition and too much wine before asking a question can have that effect. Butt, fun.

Uncle Jimbo said...

Dear Ann,

We had an extensive discussion about gays in the military among a large military-focused audience. It seems there is not considerable resistance to removing the Don't ask, Don't tell.

Gay marriage ups the ante extensively and has a much greater impact on society, I think this one goes the same way many other civil rights initiatives and starts with the military, with a compromise on civil unions in the future.

Cordially,

Uncle J

chezDiva said...

luagha wrote:
"Really, confronting them with their own inadequacy at every turn is the only hope we have of getting them to face reality."

That sounds like the ridiculous arguments that I heard in the 80's about women in the military. What makes you think gays aren't up to the task? Do you think they all run around talking about hair, fashion and home decorating? I have worked with gay men who would die fighting for this country just as their heterosexual counterparts would.

Now that I got that off my chest.
I think I would accept gays in the military over gay marriage. Would it be cheating for me to say that I support gay civil unions? I just don't support the marriage bit specially if it's forced on me via the judicial system. It should be left up to the electorate.

Palladian said...

"But "man's spouse" and "man" being the same person doesn't compute. Sorry."

So what about the "explain your reasons" part? I don't think "doesn't compute" is an adequate explanation.

"Unlike the civilian world, military people are often compelled to live in crowded communal dwellings of one sort or another. It's complicated enough keeping the straight boys and girls segregated. Throwing openly gay people in the mix seems really undesirable to me."

But what about the non-openly gay people who are already in the military, living in these conditions? What about bisexuals (or other people not on either clear end of a binary spectrum)?

"And please, don't compare the military living situation to college dorms. There is no comparison."

Why is there no comparison? Surely you can admit some comparison?

Israel has allowed openly gay people to serve in their military for quite some time (kind of hard not to when service is compulsory). How do they deal with this supposed barracks problem? Anyone know? How do police and fire units in the US deal with their gay officers and firefighters?

Bad Penny said...

I'd choose gays in the military because the military is a job, so excluding gays is employment discrimination.

As for gay marriage, I'm in favor of getting governement out of marraige all together and having the gov't regulate civil unions, which would be open to any two persons. Marriage would be a religious rite only. (I'm an atheist, and it irks me that if I want to get hitched I have to do it within a religious framemwork.)

Jacob said...

Gay people make up a couple of percent of the population vs. the one half that is female. If they can manage women in the army they should be able to manage gays.

But even accepting your point, what's your argument about why we should kick out gay linguists or gay WMD analysts and the like.

The Cranky Insomniac said...

Personally, I accept both of them, but then again I'm one of those libertarian weirdos who thinks that if it doesn't harm me it ain't really my business to tell someone they can't do something. (This, by the way, is wholly different from telling someone they "shouldn't" do something. But that doesn't apply here: I'm just sayin'.)

As to what some other commenters said: Jimntexas is correct in pointing out that the barracks issue is the main difficulty in allowing openly gay people to serve in the military. It is not analogous to a college dorm situation for the simple reason that you don't get the same kind of choice in the military as you do in college. (At least you didn't back in the early 90s, when I was a soldier.) And while I, personally, wouldn't have had a problem living with a gay man in either situation (I don't flatter myself that he'd be checking me out all the time), I can see why some people would. I don't think you have to be homophobic to be uncomfortable living with someone of a different sexual orientation.

downtownlad said...

As if the majority of the women in the military aren't lesbians . . .

Gays are already in the military. The question is when will stop telling them to lie.

Sloanasaurus said...

There is a lot of historical precedent for gays in the Military. For example, the Thebean sacred band was a unit of gay lovers who were fanatic fighters and were partly responsible in defeating mighty Sparta. The Sacred Band was eventually defeated by Philip and Alexander the Great. Gays can be as good as fighters as straights!

In contrast, there is no historical precedent for gay marriage.

downtownlad said...

Also - American soldiers are serving side by side with openly gay soldiers.

Except those soldiers are British.

Also, gays in the military hasn't hurt the Israeli army at all. And man for man - the Israeli military is the most effective military in the world.

Balfegor said...

I don't think "doesn't compute" is an adequate explanation.

And I think it encapsulates the point nicely, but that is neither here nor there -- we've been over this ground several times in other comment threads.

On topic, now -- I actually come out more in favour of gay marriage than gays in the military. As a practical matter, I don't think there is much opposition to gays in the military -- Uncle Jimbo saith so, so it must be true (and it comports with the general sense I pick up from milblogs and the like). On the other hand, to the extent integration of gays into the military does still produce discomfort and reduce group cohesion among the soldiery, then I think it's reasonable to resist that -- or more realistically, to ask people to continue to keep it under wraps.

On the other hand, because gay marriage seems to me as though it will be so marginal--the gay/lesbian population is already tiny and tends towards self-marginalisation through concentration in regional enclaves--and because I think gay marriage will essentially disappear from the public eye within a few generations, I really don't see any significant impact to anyone but gays and lesbians coming from gay marriage. There's just not enough of them to matter to whatever we have left of a shared societal conception of marriage.

chezDiva said...

andy wrote:
"I don't think you have to be homophobic to be uncomfortable living with someone of a different sexual orientation."

That could be true but how would people feel if someone said they were uncomfortable living with a person of another race/ethnic group? Just curious.

MadisonMan said...

luagha wrote:
"Really, confronting them with their own inadequacy at every turn is the only hope we have of getting them to face reality."


An interesting concept. But is the 'they' gays, or is it Islamofascist scum? I can parse it either way.

If I had to choose one (I'm in favor of both), I'd take gays in the military. Just like blacks in the military in WWII, it would precipitate a sea change.

MadisonMan said...

I don't think you have to be homophobic to be uncomfortable living with someone of a different sexual orientation.

I would venture to guess that for the vast majority of straight gay-uncomfortable soldiers, having gay compatriots would be eye-opening as they learn that not all gays will be hitting on straights and indeed that the similarities between gays and straights outweigh by far the differences.

Eli Blake said...

One of the most delicious moments of my life-- I exposed a conservative hypocrisy for what it is:

Here is a question I once asked my Congressman at a barbecque and he turned purple trying to answer it-- and I've never yet met anyone against gays in the military who could:

I asked if he supports registration for the draft. He said yes.

I asked why. He answered in case it was necessary.

I asked him if he supports openly gay people in the military. He said he does not.

So then I sprang the question on him:


You support a draft in case it becomes necessary. But what is to prevent anyone who wants to dodge the draft from writing a letter to the draft board saying they are openly gay? Then they get kicked out for free.

Then Congressman Rick hemmed and hawed, and finally said, 'The recruiter can tell if you're telling the truth.'

I asked him how a recruiter would know that, and then pointed out that in a draft, there is no recruiter.

His response was to stammer that he would hook them up to a polygraph and they could do it at boot camp.

So I asked him, if he meant that all these young recruits would show up and boot camp, and their introduction to the military would be to be hooked up to a machine and asked questions about their sex life and who they were sleeping with.

That really got him flustered, and after that it was pretty much incoherent.


Bottom line is, that as long as the gays in the military policy is what it currently is, they CAN'T ever implement a draft unless they want to leave a hole the size of a Mack truck for anyone who wants to dodge the draft to drive through (or course, gays in the military wasn't an issue that people thought about during the last draft, during Vietnam).

The Cranky Insomniac said...

I wondered how long it would be before someone compared being uncomfortable living with someone of a different sexual orientation to being uncomfortable living with someone of a different race or ethnicity. Unsurprisingly, the answer is, "not long."

This straw man has got to go, and remember, I say this as someone who favors gay marriage and gays in the military. There IS a difference, and it's time we stopped pretending there isn't. The difference between gay and straight is behavioral, not cultural or pigmental (yeah, I may have just made that up.)

Sorry, I was gonna write more but I'm too busy laughing at South Park... Maybe someone else can run with this...

Aspasia M. said...

In contrast, there is no historical precedent for gay marriage.

Yes, there is. The Native American berdache.

Balfegor said...

Yes, there is. The Native American berdache.

I think that interpretation doesn't really fully engage with what (at least from the links Amba put up in an earlier thread) the berdache concept seems to involve -- namely, different gendered spirits/souls inhabiting a single fleshly form. There may be a true "homo"-sexuality here, but there may not. The gender duality/intermediacy issue here makes this an imperfect analogue, at best, for modern homosexual marriage, which involves two men as men, or two women as women, without one partner's social identity being constructed as partially other-gendered.

Robert said...

Great blog conversation starter.

I'll have to go with the military. The reason is simple: reversibility.

If gays are allowed to openly serve, and it turns out to be a horrible, horrible, horrible disaster (which I wouldn't expect, but the possibility of which forms one reason for my tepid opposition), then it could be reversed.

Marriages are a lot harder to undo than new hires.

chezDiva said...

andy wrote: "The difference between gay and straight is behavioral, not cultural or pigmental (yeah, I may have just made that up.) "

Don't gay right's groups argue that being gay is a fact of nature for them? If that is to be believed then one can argue that they have no choice in their sexual orientation.

So if it is as you write behavior based, and we all know behaviors can be modified to some degree or another, then it would lead to the argument that gay right's opponents espouse; change the behavior.

hokuto said...

Disclaimer: I am a young man living in Hong Kong and I am not a lawyer, so I know just a little about Hong Kong laws and virtually nothing about US laws.

I am not opposed to gay marriages. It's something between the two individuals and I do not think we have the freedom to restrict their civil rights, such as tax benefits as married couples. If we legally allow gay marriages will we also have to adjust lots of various laws? In Hong Kong the law against rape is (or was) specifically targetted to the female sex, so to speak.

Military would be a bit different. As a female you probably will not want to sleep on the battlefield right next to a man. The same feelings will appear to me if the guy is gay. What happens when a gay person's friendly touch was misinterpreted by his comrades army, where there are 999 straight guys with combat knowledge? However it would be impossible to exclude individuals with a different sexual appetite in the military, otherwise some may seek to avoid being drafted into the military by listing a false statement.

Michael Farris said...

Bad penny: "As for gay marriage, I'm in favor of getting governement out of marraige all together and having the gov't regulate civil unions, which would be open to any two persons."

This is effectively the situation now. There is no such thing as a 'religious marriage' that has any legal standing in the US (or any other industrial nation).
True, religious leaders can perform civil marriage (civil unions, if you prefer), but if they don't do the state mandated paperwork then you're not legally married (or unioned to coin a term).


"Marriage would be a religious rite only."

See above.

"I'm an atheist, and it irks me that if I want to get hitched I have to do it within a religious framemwork."

See above.

I keep seeing this argument, what is the source if this persistent misunderstanding?

Marghlar said...

I think that this is Ann's ingenious attempt to get another huge thread going -- she's clearly noticed that the gay marriage thing is a big draw, and she's thrown in the military stuff to just make the mix all the richer...diabolical, Ann, diabolical.

As to the question posed: my gut says to go with military. It's the more overt form of discrimination, and the one harder to work around while honestly expressing your identity. Gays can have a private committment ceremony and pay a lawyer a lot of money to draw up contracts etc. that will simulate some (though not all) of the benefits of marriage. And meanwhile, they can continue to advocate for equal marriage rights.

By contrast, in order to be gay and in the military, you have to pretend to be something you're not. You can't even have an open relationship. It's a lot more restrictive. And illogical -- lots of militaries are solving this problem fine. Lots of historical militaries have included homosexuals without a problem. Hell, the Iliad is the greatest war story ever told, and it is also gayer than the day is long.

Michael Farris said...

Now I'm thinking (in light of the widespread consistent, willful (?) misunderstandings of the issues) that religious personnel should no longer have the right to perform civil marriages.

Let's go the route in some countries: If you want to get married, then you have to have a civil ceremony at a government office. This may be supplemented by a religious ceremony afterward (or before, but then the couple isn't legally married until they go through with the civil ceremony).

Synova said...

Eli, what the esteemed Congress-critter should have said was, "A simple demonstration will suffice." ;-)

And I'd just like to say that I never met another female in the Air Force that I knew or suspected of being a lesbian. Maybe they are all in the Navy?

As to the question, I'm in favor of both but with, um, nuance.

I'd like to see marriage separated from the state. The state should require civil unions that are available to anyone, and religions should be free to join people in marriage according to their own traditions. So we all have to get married twice, unless we don't care about the religious part. (And several churches already marry gays so no problem there.)

Since this is a major change rather than just adding the right to marry to the present situation, it wouldn't be easy to implement. The end result, though, I think would be the best long term and the most fair and the most respecting of religious conviction and expression.

I'm in favor of allowing gays to serve openly in the military but I'm not of the opinion that it would be easy to do. Limits on PDA and fraternization need to be strengthened for a variety of reasons, and some attitudes about privacy will have to be adjusted. I don't think that they've done a very good job with women so far, and it's NOT like being in a dorm.

In the end, if I had to chose one or the other? Probably military service would be easier to do, but it's probably more important to end the entanglement of state and religion represented by the way we do marriage today. That said, what are the chances of it getting worked out in a way that I'd agree with?

Synova said...

"Now I'm thinking (in light of the widespread consistent, willful (?) misunderstandings of the issues) that religious personnel should no longer have the right to perform civil marriages."

That would do it.

I don't think that the misunderstanding is willful, or even really a misunderstanding, though. Because religious weddings *are* recognized by the state. I mean... who performs a wedding and considers themselves married and *doesn't* fill out the paperwork?

CatoRenasci said...

I wonder how many of the folks who's "take gays in the military" have actually served and have even a remote clue about how military units function, especially under combat stress. There may be capacities in which gays who want to avoid being open about their sexuality can serve -- I'm not in favor of hounding gays -- but I know very few combat vets who would want gays in their foxholes.

I really see no point in asking which one prefers. There is no necessary connection between the two alternatives. Scylla and Charybdis.

Belongum said...

Ex-military fella myself... and whilst we hear the same old argument in Australia, it's just that - an old argument here. I was serving when gay people where 'legalised' in our defence forces in the early nineties.

What a load of paranoid garbage though... I have served along all kinds of people - white, black or brindle; male, female; gay, straight, lesbian and bi; short, tall; fat, skinny... really when does all this rediculousness stop? I don't care WHO or WHAT the person is beside me in the job (any job for that matter), as long as that person can DO their job without putting me in danger and can keep me safe - hey isn't this what we're all chasing?

Most defence force people who have served in active postings 'on the pointy end' - know this already for a fact... all 'men' are equal in times of war! Bullets and explosives don't give a toss (Damn) what colour you are, what religion, what your sexual orientation is, or how you have your coffee in the morning for that matter!

It's a shame weapons of war aren't a darn sight less bigotted when it comes to killing or maiming our defence force personnel - we'd have a few more of them safe and well at home at least (no irony lost there I hope). These types of fears are the fears of 'men'... and it's sad to see this become such a big political bat to wave around for political party 'points'. None of this political rhetoric helps to keep our troops safe!

Cheers for the yarn!

John in Nashville said...

What is this Rovian obsession with who sticks what into whom? Is a gay soldier or spouse more or less likely than his straight counterpart to leave his buddies behind?

Craig Ranapia said...

I find it more interesting to tease out why, at heart, the so-called "queer radical" left oppose both gays in the military and same-sex civil marriage. (And I think it's important to put the 'civil' qualifier in there. I'm not interested in the state dictating what forms of marriage any church, synagogue or mosque choose to sanctify on private property, or as a matter of doctrine.)

Marriage and the military, the argument goes, are "conservative" institutions - they are the pillars of heterosexist hegemony, and "queers" should be smashing them not choosing to live within them. The irony is that both the loony left and the rabid right are quite happy to view homosexuals in exactly the same way: the freakshow in life's rich pageant. Well, sorry, if the state is happy to take my taxes, demand my obedience to the rule of law, and require me to accept all the obligations of citizenship it's time to send a bit of traffic the other way.

I'm not willing to be told my solemn, monogamous committment to ONE adult of eleven years (i.e. around 4,500 days longer than Britney Spears' infamous Vegas quickie) is unworthy of recognition by the state.

And in time of war, when my life and freedom is equally worthless in the eyes of Islamofascism, to tell me I can't defend my country isn't only bigotry - it's a security risk.

The Cranky Insomniac said...

Amen to everything belongum said. Doing the job is all that matters. And amen to what Craig Canapia said, too.

When I was active duty US Army (1990 - 1993), I knew several soldiers who were gay, and I'm sure there were plenty more I didn't know about. It was an open secret and as far as I know, no-one really gave a damn. And this was in an infantry unit, arguably the most "macho" of regular Army branches.

"Don't ask, don't tell" has always been a silly fiction to those of us who are straight, and I'm sure it's a painful fiction for my gay brothers in arms.

Figure out a barracks policy, let gays serve openly, and I guarantee that within six months to a year it'll be old news. Soldiers in the field are much more adaptable than the brass in the rear.

As for gay marriage, I must say that I simply don't understand the opposition. What difference does it make to me if two men or two women want to screw up their lives? (The bitter single guy said.)

Squiggler said...

Gay Marriage - it is a private choice by two consenting adults.

Gays in the Military - absolutely not. The military is made up of men and women from all social cultures and backgrounds and requires a cohesive unit within a command structure. The servicemember does not have much choice as to who he serves with and it would be disasterous to force someone to accept an alternative lifestyle into a unit or on a ship with very small communal living spaces.

It isn't that anyone thinks being gay makes it impossible to be a very good military person ... that isn't the argument.

I was a military spouse for 30 years and I can tell you from experience that the young men coming into boot camp are not ready to accept a gay bunk and shower mate. And I don't think anyone is ready to add a third gender-type to the mix. As it stands now, men and women serve together, but they don't share (as a general rule) common facilities and living quarters. How can you expect young straight guys and gals to share living quarters with gays and lesbians? It just isn't fair to either side. It sets up too much friction. If you had all gay units, that would be fine, but who would go for that? We don't segregate people like that, nor should we, but it would be the only way it could work in the military.

So no on gays in the military.

And, an "I don't care what 2 consenting adults want to do" as to gay marriage.

Michael Farris said...

"Because religious weddings *are* recognized by the state."

No, those are civil weddings performed by a religious authority acting on behalf of the state, that's a subtle but very important distinction.

"I mean... who performs a wedding and considers themselves married and *doesn't* fill out the paperwork?"

Exactly, but if the priest or pastor doesn't do the state paperwork, as far as the state is concerned you're not married, no matter how pretty the wedding.

Seven Machos said...

What a loaded question.

Gay marriage can be had by anyone willing to draw up a contract and have a ceremony. The state has no interest in condoning or not condoning gay marriage. The only reason it has an interest in straight marriage is for ensuring order and predicatbility in the the transfer of property between generations.

The military has chosen not to accept openly gay people. This means you can't be openly gay in the military. You must also wear a certain uniform and complete boot camp and salute your superiors. It's merely a regulation. Why does the Left have such a problem with this regulation and not have a problem with, say, zoning laws? This is a serious question.

The law manifestly does not say that gay people cannot join the military. And if you think there aren't plenty of gays in the U.S. military, you are delusional.

Hence, the answer is: gays can make marriage contracts, or at lesat quasi-marriage contracts, and gays can be in the military all they want.

Pete Hallman said...

Andy: "Figure out a barracks policy, let gays serve openly...."

My question: If (hetero) males and females are billeted separately to discourage sexual activity, how do you billet openly gay soldiers? Certainly not all together, right? Wouldn't that be the equivalent of housing hetero males and females together? Would the openly gay males be housed only with females? Would this be enough to have some hetero males declare themselves gay in order to hang with hot hetero females?

It's early here, and I'm still on coffee #1, but the more I think about this, the more questions I get.

Michael Farris said...

It's my understanding (correct me if I'm mistaken) that let's say a man has several sexual relationships with other men and then joins the army but is celibate during that entire time he's in the military.
Nonetheless, he _still_ must be discharged if his previous same-sex relationships become known to the military. Is that the current situation?

Craig Ranapia said...

Squiggler wrote:
The military is made up of men and women from all social cultures and backgrounds and requires a cohesive unit within a command structure.

I reply:
That's right, Squiggler - including, dare I say it, some folks who've never had to treat blacks or Hispanics as an equal in their lives, let alone take orders from them. I don't notice the armed forces being re-segregated to pander to their delicate sensibilities.

And with all due respect, Squiggler, any recruit who can't take a shower without freaking out that someone might be sneaking a peak at his lunchbox really needs to get his mind out of the gutter, find a more reliable source of information that gay pron, and either grow up or find another vocation. Contrary to popular opinion, homosexuals aren't genetically hardwired for priapism at the sight of a shower head or a bunk room.

Seven Machos said...

Craig -- Is that really all that it's about? Or is the argument that an army of even a small percentage of openly gay men cannot make an effective killing machine.

Armies kill people and break things. They are corporations of the most disgusting violence. There is substantially less space for CIVIL rights in a military setting. You will observe this in fact rather quickly if you are ever unlucky enough to be court-martialed or live under martial law.

me said...

If you switched gay in the above comments to black, or mixed marriages, one could readily see how bigoted most of the above comments are. Why are so many people threatened by gays? If you are a heterosexual male, and expect your wife to perform oral sex on you, from a biblical standpoint, you are as much a sinner as someone who is gay, and from a physical standpoint there is absolutely zero difference between a female and male mouth, and hence zero difference from getting oral sex from a man or a woman.

I personally choose to be heterosexual, simply because I am not very attracted to men, and actually question how women can be all that attracted to the majority of men (anyone who has been in a men's locker room will agree).

Maybe one day people will quit being so hung up on sexual activity between consenting adults and move on to a more important topic.

Yeah, for gays in the military. Yeah, for gay marriage!!!!

Seven Machos said...

And me, if you switched people in the above comments to "blacks," you would sound really racist.

Does that make you a racist? If it doesn't, your argument fails.

downtownlad said...

I think people need to answer the question as to why they think this country is safer when we kicked 50 Gay Arabic Translators out of the army after 9/11.

Seven Machos said...

That does sound a bit awful, downtown. However, I doesn't the number 50 seem a little high for Arabic-speaking gay translators in the U.S. military who were openly gay?

Perhaps either you exaggerate or something else was afoot.

MadisonMan said...

if you switched people in the above comments to "blacks," you would sound really racist.

Does that make you a racist? If it doesn't, your argument fails.


Not quite. me did not argue that the people were bigots, but that the argument was bigoted. Changing people to blacks doesn't make me racist, it makes his argument racist.

And I think he makes a valid point. Turn the clock back 65 years, and discuss interracial armies and anti-miscengenation laws. Would the argument sound any different?

MadisonMan said...

doesn't the number 50 seem a little high for Arabic-speaking gay translators in the U.S. military who were openly gay?

A quick google search will yield many links.

Here is a link to a report on a WaPo story saying 37 in the past 2 years (2001-2003).

Here is one that says 20 Arabic/6 Farsi released since 1998.

I don't see much info on post-2003 discharges -- I'm not sure there's a reason to expect them to have decreased in number, however.

Bruce Hayden said...

I think that gays in the military is inevitable. They are already there, just mostly under cover.

The big complaint is unit cohesion and sharing a fox hole. Well, most of the military any more is not "combat" arms. So, keep overtly gay males out of the infantry, armor, airborne, and special forces type units. In short, limit don't ask / don't tell to those areas, and not for the rest. This pretty much already applies to women, so the precedent has been set. (In other words, gays would have the choice of being openly gay or being in "combat" units).

Part of this is that fraternization in units in the field in Iraq and Afganistan is already apparently a problem, since women are routinely serving on the front lines there, just not in those "combat" specialities. There was a recent book out about this, by a woman who had been there.

We first saw women in combat in Panama, when all those female MPs got into a firefight. By now, women are throughout the military, and are routinely getting deployed with men to areas where they are getting shot at, even if they aren't in those designated combat units.

Even from a point of unit cohesion, what is wrong with gay JAG officers? Or even gay interpreters? Except on the TV show, JAG officers don't get into fox holes.

I do worry a bit about the navy, esp. deployed. The quarters on board ships at sea for the enlisted ranks are apparently fairly tight, and you might end up with the sex / fraternization problem. But I do think that open gays in non-combat units in the army and air force would probably work just fine, most likely as well, if not better, than women there.

Then, maybe after DA/DT for the combat arms, the situation can be reevaluated after awhile, maybe a decade, to see how well it is working, and then maybe open up those units to open gays too.

Bruce Hayden said...

I still wonder whether those 50 gay translators were all actually gay, or if some of them used that as a way out, under the military's DA/DT policy. I could see how some Arabic translators might question fighting in Iraq, esp. if they were Moslem, and maybe even Arabs, as many most likely were. Of course, with DA/DT, we will probably never know.

Marghlar said...

I know very few combat vets who would want gays in their foxholes.

Intentional pun or no? But don't knock it till you try it...you might suprise yourself.

Balfegor said...

I still wonder whether those 50 gay translators were all actually gay, or if some of them used that as a way out, under the military's DA/DT policy. I could see how some Arabic translators might question fighting in Iraq, esp. if they were Moslem, and maybe even Arabs, as many most likely were. Of course, with DA/DT, we will probably never know.

50 sounded a bit high to me, when it was just out there, but when I think about it, it's not unreasonable to suppose we'd have a much higher proportion of homosexual Arabs (and hence Arabic-speakers) in our population and so in our military translator pool than one might otherwise expect from the incidence of homosexuality in the population at large. The Arabic principalities are, by and large, extremely hostile to homosexuals and homosexual activity. It follows then that Arab homosexuals would be more likely to want to leave their homelands than the average Arab. Possibly much more likely.

Craig Ranapia said...

Bruce Hayden wrote:
I do worry a bit about the navy, esp. deployed. The quarters on board ships at sea for the enlisted ranks are apparently fairly tight, and you might end up with the sex / fraternization problem.

I reply:
To be perfectly frank, I worry a lot about folks who seem to get all their ideas about homosexuals and homosexuality from pornography - where King Priapus rules supreme. Sorry, but this whole line of argument seems to say more about pandering to the insecurities (and dare I say it, sexual vanity) of heterosexual men than any real operational or security issue.

Oddly enough, it seems in a straight man's army there's an assumption that soliders aren't so sexually unhinged they need to be kept away from women, period, for the sake of unit cohesion and military discipline. Anyone care to explain that chain of reasoning to me?

quietnorth said...

It needs to be said: Unless things have changed since 79, There are many gay people in the military. They are out to people they trust. They don't go around "hitting" on straight guys. It is easier to believe the military kicked out 50 gay men than it is to believe 50 people would pretend to be gay to get out.

J said...

"The military has chosen not to accept openly gay people."

Just to clarify, the military has been barred by law from accepting openly gay people - there's no choice invloved here. Though I'm sure you can find quotes from some senior officers who sincerely believe openly gay soldiers are a bad idea, I doubt that most soldiers care about this issue at all. That was certainly true when I got out well over a decade ago.

"But what is to prevent anyone who wants to dodge the draft from writing a letter to the draft board saying they are openly gay?"

Though I've always opposed affirmative action, I've been ambivalent towards if not slightly in favor of affirmative action for homosexuals, for the very reason that it would create a category anyone can claim to be part of.

How exactly did this question expose any hypocrisy, conservative or otherwise?

Balfegor said...

To be perfectly frank, I worry a lot about folks who seem to get all their ideas about homosexuals and homosexuality from pornography - where King Priapus rules supreme.

I'm sorry, is there a widespread tradition, in the US, of straight people viewing gay porn? I hadn't thought so, but then, I am generally a bit out of the loop on American popular culture.

W/ respect to the concern Bruce Hayden enunciated there, I think it has rather less to do with "pornography," than with . . . well, look. People have been thinking sailors tend towards sodomy for centuries. See, e.g. Churchill's remark on the traditions of the Royal Navy. It's not that they're homosexual, it's that when you stick a lot of men together in close quarters, with no women available (or with the women absolutely off limits), the strong impression we get from history is that the men will start having sex with each other. Which we think is a bad thing, in those circumstances. So the military says: "Don't even think about it!" More or less.

I may be reading a rather cruder line of argument in than Bruce intends. But I certainly don't think we're getting this from porn. And I don't see where heterosexual vanity comes in.

Eli Blake said...

As for Arabs disapproving of gays, they already disapprove of us (for being Christians and Jews, for being heathen westerners from a decadent society, for women who don't wear veils and speak their minds, for listening to pop music, you name it.) Heck, bin Laden's primary cause was to drive westerners (especially Americans) out of Arab countries, and just on that point alone he was able to build his organization of terrorists. So I don't think sending gay interpreters to muslim lands is going to make much of a difference.

Other than a facetious comment by synova, no one has answered the question about telling the military you are gay as a tool to dodge the draft that I made last night at 11:13 and that hokuto sort of touched on at the end of his post an hour later. That's because there is no answer to it that won't force people who are opposed to gays in the military to have to change and support it if there is a draft.

As to the 'unit cohesion' argument, I would only suggest that if this is an issue, wouldn't it be better to integrate units during peace time or relatively low level warfare than in the middle of some future conflict if it is so dire that it requires a draft?

And as to the suggestion that gays be excluded from combat units and serve openly otherwise, this still goes back to the draft-dodger dilemma because someone who is just an old-fashioned coward would still be able to pretend to be gay in order to avoid being sent into the most dangerous situations.

And here is a dirty little secret: Although the military's rules on gays were never publicized in the past, during serious times of war, the military has NOT kicked out even the most openly gay of soldiers (and in those pre-stonewall days being openly gay was rare and considered a mental disease). That's why it wasn't a dodge during WWII or Vietnam. But now that this is such a public issue, they won't be able to just 'not publicize' it and keep it off the table next time there is a draft.

I'm still waiting, this little problem is the big white elephant in the middle of the room that no conservative is willing to touch.

Eli Blake said...

j was answering my question (sort of) as I was reposting it.

Here is the hypocrisy:

If you favor draft registration, you acknowledge that a draft is possible.

Given that you acknowledge that a draft is possible, if you oppose gays in the military, then you in effect negate the draft by giving people an easy way out.

If you want anyone who gets drafted to be able to effectively decide whether to accept it, then you are back to the all-volunteer force we have now, in which case draft registration is a useless waste of money and record keeping.

This is conservative hypocrisy because liberals either 1) oppose draft registration and/or 2) favor gays in the military. It is only when these two are in contradiction with each other that it is hypocrisy.

Balfegor said...

Given that you acknowledge that a draft is possible, if you oppose gays in the military, then you in effect negate the draft by giving people an easy way out.

Look, your supposed contradiction is, as I argued above, largely imaginary. And besides, the problem is just as, if not more pronounced with conscientious objectors. I'm not seeing the hypocrisy here.

tjl said...

Why do opponents of gays in the military obsess about shared living quarters to the extent that they do? Do they imagine that gay people lack the will or ability to limit sexual behavior to appropriate settings? If that were the case, the results would be visible in civiian life, where gays are present with straights in recreational or workplace environments that may have little more privacy than a barracks. Consider health clubs as a prime example. Most urban health clubs have a substantial gay membership, but this does not lead to a gay sexual bacchanalia in the locker room.
Gay people have the same ability as straight people to conform their behavior to appropriate social standards. If the contrary belief is the only basis for denying gays the right to serve in the military, it is flimsy indeed.

Edward said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Edward said...

Balfegor:

You’re wrong that the conscientious objector issue is as big a problem for a future draft as the gay ban would be. The gay ban would throw any future draft into chaos, particularly if that draft were as unpopular as it almost surely will be.

Conscientious objection claims have always been carefully scrutinized by the authorities administering a draft.

A young person who has been drafted can’t wake up the next morning, decide that he’s a conscientious objector, and then successfully evade the draft with that excuse. I believe that to obtain conscientious objector status, a person has to document a long history of (usually religious) conviction that makes fighting in the military morally impossible.

In other words, to succeed in being classified a conscientious objector, a person has to work really hard to prove that he deserves it based upon longstanding personal conviction. One way to do this would be to provide evidence of longstanding participation in a religious tradition that prohibits fighting in a military force.

The gay ban has always been administered very differently by the military. The actual administration of the gay ban has always been as (irrationally) homophobic as the exclusion that it sets in place for gay military service.

Let me explain what I mean.

DADT (Don’t Ask Don’t Tell) is extremely homophobic in the way it is enforced, which means that – contrary to conscientious objector status – VERY little evidence is required to get someone excluded from the U.S. military on grounds of homosexuality, or to get them kicked out for this reason if they are already in the military.

I’ve heard of cases where a soldier or sailor simply walks into his superior’s office one morning and says “I’m gay, and I don’t want to deny it anymore.” The discharge papers are then drawn up in a heartbeat.

That’s all it takes to be excluded from the military under DADT, the two magic words “I’m gay.” No official bothers to take the time to figure out if this person really is gay or exactly what his motivation is for declaring himself gay. No evidence of longstanding gay sexual orientation is needed to be excluded from the military.

Just say “I’m gay,” and the deed is done.

Of course, in today’s all volunteer force, the exclusion is usually against the wishes of the gay soldiers and sailors who genuinely want to serve their country, but often not at the price of staying in the closet.

With a draft, however, the situation would be very different. Tens of thousands of drafted young people would rush to draft boards to say the magic words “I’m gay,” and the entire draft process would be thrown into chaos.

The social acceptance of gay people has exploded in the past fifteen years, so any straight young man or woman who declared homosexuality just to get out of the draft would pay no social price among their circle of friends.

In fact, getting out of an unpopular draft in this way would be looked upon as the “cool” thing to do.

DADT is as insane as it its unjust. It should be repealed right away. [Gay marriage should be legalized, too.]

Balfegor said...

In other words, to succeed in being classified a conscientious objector, a person has to work really hard to prove that he deserves it based upon longstanding personal conviction. One way to do this would be to provide evidence of longstanding participation in a religious tradition that prohibits fighting in a military force.

The gay ban has always been administered very differently by the military. The actual administration of the gay ban has always been as (irrationally) homophobic as the exclusion that it sets in place for gay military service.


It has always been administered differently, I think, because homosexuality has been (and, actually, generally is) so widely despised that a man has historically had to be pretty desperate to claim he's gay, just to get out. If it turns out that the current crop of draftees have no problem lying that they're gay in public, then I expect we'll see more scrutiny in those cases as well, just as with conscientious objection.

Tens of thousands of drafted young people would rush to draft boards to say the magic words “I’m gay,” and the entire draft process would be thrown into chaos.

This assumes, essentially, that the draft procedure would be exactly the same as it was the last time we had the draft, what, some decades ago? I don't think that's a reasonable assumption.

You're also shifting from the argument Eli Blake has been attempting. You're trying to leverage an historical practice (re: the draft), and current non-draft administration of DADT into a putative contradiction. But he has been contrasting a draft and opposition to gays in the military, and claiming there is some contradiction there. There's not.

I think you're wrong too, but not as blatantly as Eli.

Ann Althouse said...

I don't buy the argument that DADT is inconsistent with a draft. It's true that a lot of draft evaders would want to just say "I'm gay," but if we were at the point where we needed a draft, the military would adjust their factfinding and reject mere assertions. That would be completely easy to do. It's just a question of what level of proof they would demand and a policy of preventing draft evasion would lead them to raise the standard. They wouldn't have to abandon DADT. Nice try, but stop congratulating yourself over that superficially clever argument.

Tara said...

I think this is very much a generational thing too. Even the (somewhat extreme/inaccurate) comparision to housing men and women together fails. The fact is that in my generation and below, straight men and woman often choose to share living quarters in a completely platonic way, and it's normal and acceptable. I believe that the teenagers who sued Yale to not be compelled to live in coed dorms lost. They chose to attend Yale, they chose to accept that housing situation. Nowadays people choose to join the military, and they choose to accept a lot of things they might not choose for themselves otherwise.

I also think that others in this thread are totally correct about the draft hypothesis. Once upon a time, homosexuality was so stigmatized than many men who desperately did not want to serve in the military would still not 'admit' to homosexuality, but that's not the case any more, for either men or women, for the most part.

To answer the question, I am for both gay marriage and inclusion of gays in the military. If I were forced to pick one, it would be a matter if which I think will be more conducive to the other and to egalitarianism in general - a strategic choice. I think I would lean towards gays in the military.

Edward said...

Balfegor:

Don’t think I didn’t fully anticipate the reply that you just made to my comments about the draft. I did, and completely.

My short answer to you is this: Just imagine for a moment the U.S. military trying to determine who is and who isn’t really gay among a large group of young people, all of whom are attempting to evade the draft by claiming homosexuality.

Exactly how would the military proceed in trying to separate the liars from those telling the truth?

I would love to see what kind of standards you think the military should apply in this situation.

Any such standards would be ludicrous and would be ridiculed constantly all around the country.

Furthermore, the creation of such standards would be an instant death-knell for DADT, because the minute such standards are created, the military will de admitting that mere self-identification as gay no longer is grounds for exclusion from military service.

DADT would die right then and there, because what DADT targets more than anything else is self-identification as gay.

me said...

How would it be easy to tell if someone is lying about being gay???

All one has to do after receiving a draft notice is sleep with a guy. Not a big chore if you want to avoid going to war.

Edward said...

To all those who oppose the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell:

Those of us who believe that DADT should be repealed are not saying ANY openly gay person should be allowed to serve in the military. We’re merely saying that those gay people who are capable of meeting every other requirement of military service, without exception, should be allowed to serve, and without being forced to deny or keep silent about their sexual orientation.

I would love to hear from an honest, intelligent supporter of DADT who really believes that there does not exist a single young, openly gay person who wants to in serve in the military, who is capable of meeting all the current requirements, and who is also capable of avoiding sexual entanglements with his straight colleagues.

Any sincere person will admit that at least some gay people are capable of meeting each and every regulation and requirement of military service – including regulations against fraternization and sexual harassment.

Those are the only gay people that most serious supporters of a repeal of DADT want serving in the military. And the case for allowing them to serve openly is overwhelming.

And the mere existence of such gay people shreds the entire rationale for DADT.

Balfegor said...

Re: Edward --

Let's look at the statutory requirement. (Hopefully this will come through right.) The statute is found at 10 USC 654. The DADT element is as follows:

(2) That the member has stated that he or she is a homosexual or bisexual, or words to that effect, unless there is a further finding, made and approved in accordance with procedures set forth in the regulations, that the member has demonstrated that he or she is not a person who engages in, attempts to engage in, has a propensity to engage in, or intends to engage in homosexual acts.

In general parlance, "demonstrated" requires an active effort on the part of the person investigated. On the other hand, a reading tending towards "demonstrated [by his past actions and course of conduct]" is not foreclosed by the language, and is an equally reasonable reading of "demonstrated." So a more involved investigation is not incompatible with DADT. The precise regulations would have to be changed, but the DOD can do that unilaterally (is my understanding).

What precise inquiries would be involved? Well, I'm not sure. But I don't imagine it would be as difficult as you suggest to come up with a reasonable procedure to weed out the most obvious falsehoods.

I also don't know whether draft boards count as federal agents, but it's a felony to lie to a federal agent (18 USC 1001), and it doesn't seem unreasonable to consider them so. District Attorneys could be instructed to keep up a regular pace of investigations and then prosecutions, carrying sentences of imprisonment (up to 5 years), in cases where they think false statements may have been made, and the deterrent effect would not be, I think, negligible.

And the mere existence of such gay people shreds the entire rationale for DADT.

Most of our laws are not narrowly tailored. Many bright-line rules that we set (e.g. voting rights at 18, drinking at 21, etc.) are only imperfectly connected to the underlying problems the law is there to remedy.

So?

Goesh said...

Penis + vagina = tax break for fornication that produces future citizens. No Adam and Steve unions or Adama and Eve unions sanctioned by Law in the form of marriage.

I was in the Marines and I was in Viet Nam. We had two homos who openly expressed their affections and nobody gave a rat's ass because these guys were absolutely lethal when it came to killing gooks. My rough and common language pretty much sums it up. Sexual preference has no bearing on the ability to use force or threat of force in the defense of our nation. If Bill keeps a picture of Henry in his jet and kisses if before a mission, I don't care as long as he accurately drops his bombs. Our enemies certainly don't either now do they? I admit I've ogled too many women in my day, but maybe much of this debate boils down to feelings of personal security and one's own sexual identity. What the hell do I know? I'm more worried about one of granddaughters flunking math.

Edward said...

Balfegor:

I could give a very long reply to your last post, but I don’t have the time right now.

At a minimum, the existence of some openly gay people who are “capable of meeting each and every regulation and requirement of military service” shreds DADT from the standpoint of justice, fairness, and equality.

To the extent that all laws in a constitutional democracy are supposed to promote justice, fairness, and equality, the existence of such openly gay people shreds the rational for DADT.

I’m not a lawyer, and my use of a few of these terms may not be exactly the appropriate parlance for a legal case against DADT, but I think I make myself abundantly clear.

Military service and voting are simply not the same.

Military service is just a job – admittedly a special kind of job under special circumstances. But that’s all it is -- a job – with precise expectations and standards.

Being heterosexual (or a closeted gay person) is not related in any way at all to the ability to meet those expectations and standards of job performance in the military.

Voting, on the other hand, is partly a right and partly a privilege. There is no one “correct way” to vote. There are no clearly defined “expectations and standards” about the way someone actually votes to determine who should be allowed to vote and who shouldn’t.

37383938393839383938383 said...

Anyone who says they prefer gays in the military to gays marrying is a homophobe who just wants more gay people to die. Yes, this is ironic.

Edward said...

Balfegor:

One or two more thoughts about age limits for voting, driving, and drinking alcohol:

These age limits are defensible on the grounds of equality, because they apply equally to each and every American. Every American citizen, upon reaching the required minimum age, is allowed to vote, drive, and drink alcohol.

DADT, on the other hand, is indefensible on equality grounds, because it places an extreme burden of concealment on one group only, gay people. And this concealment is in no way related to actual job performance in the military.

Also, unlike military service and voting, driving a car and drinking alcohol are not integral to what it means to be a citizen of a democracy.

Being allowed to defend one’s country through military service approaches very closely the basic concept of citizenship in a democracy.

That’s another reason why the discrimination enforced by DADT is so invidious and harmful to gay people.

JimNtexas said...

I reject this bogus analogy between concern about gays in the military and race. We long ago did away with racial segregation in the military, but we still have separate quarters for women. That's not because be we are anti-women.

The living quarters situation. is the heart of the problem.

First, there are NO military jobs that are somehow immune from having to live check-by-jowl with the other members of their unit for long periods of time. None. One visit to the sandbox will show you that.

I would like the folks who just wave there hands and say that the quartering issue isn't real to tell me with a straight face that we could quarter 20 year old men with 20 year old women and not expect problems.

Is the military anti-female or anti-male because it segregates women from men in sleeping and bathing facilitates? Is gender segregation for living quarters a bad policy that should be changed? How is quartering gay men with straight men different from quartering straight men with straight women?

Balfegor said...

Edward -- you're getting unduly hung up on the particular examples I gave. I gave them because they're the most obvious examples (examples familiar to everyone) demonstrating plainly that our laws are not narrowly tailored to their objectives. You propose that a single exception destroys the foundation for the rule. That's not the way our system works.

Edward said...

Balfegor:

You say, “That's not the way our system works.”

I say that’s the way our system is SUPPOSED to work, when our founding principles are put into practice correctly.

Look, European (and I think Canadian) courts have already held that excluding gay people (closeted or not) from military service is a violation of fundamental human and civil rights.

I can’t say exactly when, but it’s only a matter of time before the courts and Congress in this country reach the same conclusion.

Even if the repeal of DADT doesn’t happen for another fifty years, the obnoxiousness of the current policy and its complete inconsistency with the principles that this country stands for remain undiminished.

AND, what I’m really proposing is not “a single exception,” because we both know that there are quite a few openly gay people who could meet the military standards that we’ve been discussing here.

MadisonMan said...

I would like the folks who just wave there hands and say that the quartering issue isn't real to tell me with a straight face that we could quarter 20 year old men with 20 year old women and not expect problems.

Aren't there fraternizing policies to address this very issue? I have no qualms about kicking out gay men, or straight men, or any man or woman, for making unwanted sexual advances.

I think you've raised a point that is not a problem.

JAL said...

When you're in a foxhole and someone's trying to shoot you, trust me, the sexual orientation of the soldier sharing that hole is not on your mind.

I have no doubt that over the course of 30 years in the military, that some of the soldiers I served with must have been gay. I never noticed that it made any difference whatsoever.

Wasn't it Barry Goldwater, Maj. Gen., USAF (ret.) that said "It's more important that a soldier shoot straight reather than be straight.

JimNtexas said...

"I think you've raised a point that is not a problem."

Then you haven't been responsible for young GIs before or you wouldn't say that.

Do you >really< think that putting young women and young men in the same bedrooms and showers would not be a problem?

The military isn't the Clinton Whitehouse.

jeff said...

(note, I've been in the military, in one form or another, for over 20 years)

If forced to choose, I'd take gays in the military.

I figure the other soldiers can take care of themselves. Might be a few extra "accidental deaths" to watch out for though. Some people just won't take very kindly to be propositioned by the guy under the next showerhead over.

Can't blame 'em, either.

Tony said...

The living quarters issue is to me the main objection to allowing openly gay persons in the military.

Bunk them with the women.

I'd rather have gays in the military.

Edward said...

Ann Althouse:

Are you going to let that last post by Jeff pass without any comment on your part?

He’s condoning murder, after all. Show some responsibility as the moderator of this thread.

Tony said...

Why do opponents of gays in the military obsess about shared living quarters to the extent that they do?

It's not about the gay person being able to control themselves. It's about the other people not wanting to take the possibility of being another man's object of desire (which is probably the same reason that women object to showering and being bunked with men.)

Edward said...

Tony:

Most of the "object of desire" stuff is going to be merely imagined or highly exaggerated by heterosexual soldiers.

LOTS of other militaries have already worked through these issues successfully.

The list includes the armed forces of our closest ally ever, Great Britain.

If they can get this to work, the United States can, too.

Ann Althouse said...

Edward said..."Ann Althouse: Are you going to let that last post by Jeff pass without any comment on your part? He’s condoning murder, after all. Show some responsibility as the moderator of this thread."

NINE minutes after a post goes up you're berating me for not doing anything? What, do you think I sit here constantly observing each new post? You need to calm down. You sound hysterical about me and about Jeff, who only predicted that others would react with violence. I'm not deleting posts like that. If you want to argue with Jeff, argue with Jeff, but don't act all aghast and outraged as if we're all going to accept your characterization of things. I don't fall for that.

Edward said...

Ann Althouse:

I realize you must be extremely busy. I didn’t set a time limit on when I expected you to do something about Jeff’s post.

Nevertheless, I stand by original complaint. The last part of his post seems to me beyond the limits of acceptable discourse for a thread like this.

On the other hand, I do want to thank you for creating a forum for us to debate these issues.

MadisonMan said...

Do you >really< think that putting young women and young men in the same bedrooms and showers would not be a problem?

Go back and read what I said. Aren't there rules in place to deal with things like this?

And really, please be a little more subtle in your strawmen. Women and Men showering together. What's next?
Riots in the Streets! Dogs and cats , living together! Mass Hysteria!

You asked what the difference is between men/women living in the same barracks vs. straights/gays. Here's a clue: women are not gay men. Or vice versa. Are all people in your universe simply sex drives attached to life support systems?

Given clear guidelines, a professional soldier can adapt to many orders. They've done it all across the world.

Things might be different with a draft, but as others have correctly noted, DADT is pretty much incongruent with a successful draft.

luagha said...

Answer to chezDiva:

I am totally for gays in the military. The 'they' in my original post refers to the Islamofascist scum, who deserve to get beaten up by women, by gays, by straights, by blacks, by hispanics, by Basques, by Belgians, by Dutch, by australian aborigines, really by anyone and anything you can come up with including gravy and very small rocks.
I have read wonderful stories about women running down terrorist insurgent fighters and bashing them down from behind with their rifle butts, and tanks moving forwards after the bombers have passed by with loudspeakers blaring, "You just got bombed by a woman," playing in arabic.

It only gets better if you add in homosexuals.

luagha said...

That's the sound of us winning hearts and minds, Mary.

akashawn said...

Openly gay persons in are allowed to serve in the military in Israel, Britain, and Australia. Theres NO DOUBT that we can make it work in the USA.
Moreover, we are experiencing recruitment shortfalls. It is STUPID not to let people serve who want to, based on a non military reason like homosexuality.
I would implement gays in the military at once.

now gay marriage is a tougher proposition. It could be done, but civil unions are a better bet

Eli Blake said...

Balfegor:

No, I made the same argument as Edward. The contradiction is that a draft would become ineffective.

The fact is, unless you are willing to investigate someone's sex life, you can't tell if they are telling the truth about being gay. And it's a lot harder to investigate than their religion for a lot of reasons. Are you going to have a government investigator hook them up to a polygraph like the congressman I quizzed suggested? Or are you going to have someone from the government talk to their parents (clueless-- I know of quite a few parents who thought that their little angels were virgins until their belly grew out of proportion to their boobs. How many of them would think their kids were gay?)

Or alternatively, how many moms would lie and say, 'oh, yes, he looks at pictures of guys all the time?'

And if you are 18 and subject to the draft, and so is your best pal, what is to keep the two of you from agreeing to give each other's name to the investigators and covering for each other? So, maybe they even hear you have a girlfriend, but then you just say you are bisexual. Prove it ain't true.

sarah said...

Synova: Who has a wedding, considers themselves married, but doesn't fill out the paperwork? Gay couples! Because they are not allowed to make it legal. Except here in Massachusetts. There was a nice story in my small town newspaper when the law was changed about two gay couples in town who finally made their marriages legal. In both cases they had been together for decades. They were very moving stories.

Michael Farris: I, too, was shocked that Bad Penny didn't realize that legal marriage is a civil matter. Weird. Why is there this persistent misunderstanding? Really good question.

There seems to be an odd situation in our culture. There is a lot of bias against religion (for example, many people openly mock someone, including the President, who considers himself born again) and it wouldn't be tough to make the case that various secular entities and ideas are religions to those who hold with them. And yet there still seems to be a strong taboo against atheism.

For some reason people go along with the cultural flow of religious = good, one indication of which is the practice you mention, having a minister officiate at your wedding even if you don't go to church. As long as that's considered more appropriate or real, this type of action perpetuates this cultural view, as you have implied.

David Frum made an argument a while back against gay marriage in which he coined the term "the basic grammar of marriage." Great term, but highly offensive, to me. I think he was implying not just that marriage is between a man and a woman but something about gender roles as well (he didn't write back to my to confirm or deny when I emailed him this, so I can't speak for his intention).

Indeed, the civil marriage vows that were standard in New Hampshire when I married in a civil ceremony (a friend of mine was a justice-of-the-peace in that neighboring state) reflect some of this grammar. The husband's vow was to love, honor, and cherish, and the wife's was to love, honor, and obey.

Well, I edited my vows. We both promised to love, honor, and cherish. In a civil marriage, one is allowed to choose. Personally I think it is a much more civilized grammar to define marriage as a bond between two loving human beings who intend to grow old together. Although I can certainly appreciate and respect many religious traditions.

I agree that it is odd that more people don't know what legal marriage is, or think about their marriage vows as something to be chosen rather than something to be conformed to.

Balfegor said...

And if you are 18 and subject to the draft, and so is your best pal, what is to keep the two of you from agreeing to give each other's name to the investigators and covering for each other? So, maybe they even hear you have a girlfriend, but then you just say you are bisexual. Prove it ain't true.

Well, that would be something to consider during discovery. I suspect most sexual offenses would involve a fact investigation pattern analogous to this (e.g. proving sexual history, remarks made in private, etc.), as well as a hefty amount of electronic discovery. I'm only familiar with civil discovery procedures (and that in a commercial context), but if criminal discovery is anything like civil, your whole life can and will be thrown open to government investigation. And remember -- they don't even need to catch you in the main lie (i.e. that you are homosexual or bisexual). They just need to catch you in a lie, like what happened to Martha Stewart.

Further, if the two people cooperate to lie in a federal investigation, I suspect that's conspiracy, and would carry heavier penalties under some statute or other (though I don't know what that would be off the top of my head).

Hunter said...

False dichotomy. The real question is "Do you accept gays as full citizens with equal rights and responsibilities?"

Israel, Britain, Canada, and several other countries have integrated open gays into their militaries with nary a ripple. Who would have thought that American servicemen and women were so delicate as to not be able to deal with it? Charles Moskos, the military sociologist who was so influential in garnering support for DADT, is now using the same arguments -- unit cohesion and morale -- against it. Tell you anything?

A bridge anecdote: The Canadian military celebrated its first same-sex marriage last fall. The world has not ended.

I'm sort of tired of the arguments from history and tradition on the marriage issue: if this country were so enamored of tradition, we'd still be a string of settlements along the Atlantic seaboard owing fealty to the British Crown.

(I'm also tired of the "judicial fiat" arguments -- what a crock. Suggest you all bone up on the concepts of "limited popular sovereignty" and "judicial review.")