Martin C. Evans

Don’t ask, Don’t tell? Don’t laugh.

In Uncategorized on March 26, 2010 at 11:17 pm

Anti-gay attitudes that have characterized the U.S. military may be changing among younger GIs.

How would you feel about sharing a motel room with a business colleague if you knew your colleague were gay?

Marine Commandant General James Conway apparently believes it would give most Marines the creeps.

Conway says if the prohibition against gays serving openly in the military is dropped, he would move toward eliminating the current practice of barracking unmarried Marines two to a room.

“We want to continue [two-person rooms], but I would not ask our Marines to live with someone who is homosexual if we can possibly avoid it,” the Commandant said in an interview published by the website Military.com.

But some current and former military leaders say segregating gay and straight troops could undermine the military cohesion Conway says he is trying to preserve.

According to the Palm Center, a University of California, Santa Barbara social research institute, retired Marine General Carl Mundy, one of Conway’s predecessors as Commandant of the U.S Marine Corps, opposes openly gay service. But Mundy has said that if repeal is going to happen, “The last thing you even want to think about is creating separate facilities or separate groups or separate meeting places or having four kinds of showers — one of straight women, lesbians, straight men and gay men. That would be absolutely disastrous in the armed forces. It would destroy any sense of cohesion or teamwork or good order and discipline.”

Conway’s comments come as controversy continues to roil efforts by President Barack Obama to end the current “don’t ask – don’t tell” policy that allows gays to serve in the military only if they do not openly acknowledge their sexual orientation.

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs on Friday urged the Army’s Pacific Commander to consider resigning after the Commander, Lt. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, urged servicemembers and civilians to write letters to Congress opposing repeal of don’t ask don’t tell. Mixon made his views known in a March 8 letter to the editor published in “Stars and Stripes.”

The Commandant’s feelings notwithstanding, attitudes may be shifting toward greater acceptance of gay colleagues by military personnel.

A poll released two weeks ago by the Vet Voice Foundation found that more than seven in ten Iraq and Afghanistan veterans say it would be acceptable to them personally if gays served openly in the military. The poll said younger personnel are more likely to indicate acceptance than older GIs, who by a small margin oppose allowing gays to serve openly.

On Friday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced new rules making it more difficult to dismiss gays from the service should their orientation become known. The new rules include moving the power to oust service members for “being out” from the level of colonels and captains to flag and general officers only. Gates also barred the use of hearsay evidence, or confidential statements a service member may make to a clergy, doctor or therapist, in ouster proceedings.

Although the Pentagon chief has shown a determination to implement Obama’s promise to make the military more tolerant of gay personnel, only Congress has the power to repeal Don’t Ask-Don’t Tell.

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  1. I honestly don’t see the problem with gays serving openly in the military. They have been quietly serving their country for many, many years. I have a relative whose daughter is gay. She was a soldier in the Iraqi war. And a fine soldier she was (she is home safe and sound now)… I don’t understand why it is acceptable to be so prejudiced against gays in this country. They are American citizens too. I would be proud to serve my country standing beside a gay American…

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