Study Shows Repeal Of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Not The Downfall Of The US Military

The first academic study on the effects of repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has revealed that open service has had no negative impact on the military and has actually improved relations among troops.

The Palm Center conducted the study three years after over 1,000 retired generals and admirals signed a statement predicting that DADT’s repeal would “break the All-Volunteer Force.” In addition to performing on-site field observations of military units and survey analysis, lead author on the study Dr. Aaron Belkin and his colleagues conducted interviews with over half of those riled-up retirees as well as with activists both for and against the repeal.

The study’s main findings include:

(1) Only two service members, both chaplains, were identified as having left the military as a result of DADT repeal; (2) A Pentagon spokesperson told the study’s co-authors that she was not aware of a single episode of violence associated with repeal; (3) Pentagon data show that recruitment and retention remained robust after repeal; (4) Survey data revealed that service-wide, the troops reported the same level of morale after repeal as they did prior to repeal; (5) Survey data revealed that service-wide, the troops reported the same level of readiness after repeal as they did prior to repeal.

The authors also found evidence that DADT’s repeal improved trust among troops, facilitated problem resolution and has led to more frank discussions that debunk preconceived notions about gay people. So it seems, after all, that asking and telling leads to sharing…and caring.

The study can be found in its entirety here.

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  • Cam

    No shock here. Isreal’s military has had gays for ages and even the most homophobic evangelicals wouldn’t criticize it.

    But then again, they don’t care about what is actually good for the country or military, they just want to be bigots.

  • tatararabuga

    Does Israeli army have a pro-gay policy? Didn’t seem like it in ‘Yossi and jagger’ although it’s over ten years old i think…

  • Cam

    @tatararabuga: From Google/Wiki

    “Israel was one of the first countries to abolish restrictions on openly gay soldiers serving in the military. In 1993 the country adopted a law that prohibits discrimination against gay forces, nearly 20 years ahead of the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” in the United States.”

    This is a link to an article about a photo of two male soldiers holding hands that the ISreali Army posted on it’s website in honor of gay pride.


    Funny how the evangellicals never like to mention that. ;)

  • Michael Bedwell

    First, where the hell did you get the impression that they “conducted interviews with over half of those riled-up retirees”??? THIS is a direct quote from Palm’s report: “We began our research by contacting 553 of the 1,167 retired generals and admirals who signed a 2009 statement claiming that DADT repeal would ‘break the All-Volunteer Force’. We sent a letter to the 553 signatories for whom we could locate contact information and received responses from 13 officers, including six brigadier generals, three major generals, three lieutenant generals and one general. We interviewed 11 of those who responded, and we received a written statement from two, both of whom declined our request for additional commentary.”

    ELEVEN….they interviewed ELEVEN. Note, however, numbers aside, the fact that they bothered to poll the foxes about what should be done with the chickens was ridiculous.

    Still, I applaud the good intentions of the study, but am less concerned about confirming the obvious that the military would not be worse off post repeal than examining the question of how much life in the military is empirically better for LGB service members.

    The authors’ answer is incomplete—and questionable given, dubious outsider perspectives aside, they only conducted in-depth interviews with 37—repeat THIRTY-SEVEN—currently serving LGB troops out of the tens of thousands serving around the world—and the fact that they neither acknowledge nor apparently took into consideration that current policy discourages, if not outright bans, TRACKING of incidents as is done routinely under the Military Equal Opportunity Program [MEO] when they involve race, gender, ethnicity, etc., as well as barring LGB troops from access to any recourse but the most unreliable and institution-protecting—”chain of command.” Quote: “The policy change appears to have enabled some LGB service members to resolve disputes around harassment and bias in ways that were not possible prior to repeal.” Emphasis mine.

    BUT also: “HARASSMENT, DISCRIMINATION AND BIAS REMAIN PROBLEMS IN THE WAKE OF DADT REPEAL. . … With respect to non-violent harassment and other expressions of bias, conclusively determining whether DADT repeal has produced a change in their frequency would require comparing pre- and post-repeal incidence rates, a task which is not possible given available data. … Lawyer and researcher Sharon Terman has argued that organizations that discriminate against particular minority groups cannot eliminate harassment of those groups as long as discriminatory laws and policies remain in effect.”

    ENOUGH playing defense of the obvious regarding the effect of open service on the military. The real issue is the effect of the military upon open service. Since the release of the Pentagon report in November 2010—even before the repeal bill had passed in both houses of Congress—we have known that, whenever actual repeal did come, they intended to refuse, in their own words, to include “sexual orientation alongside race, color, religion, sex, and national origin, as a class eligible for various diversity programs, tracking initiatives, and complaint resolution processes under the Military Equal Opportunity Program.”

    Too few remember that there was a so-called “Don’t Harass” policy for over a decade pre-repeal, and, yet, because the military was not FORCED to take it seriously it repeatedly failed as evidenced most recently in the revelation in June that the senior enlisted officer on a nuclear submarine, the USS Florida, was fired for failure to end and inform his commanding officer of a series of homophobic verbal and physical harassing incidents last year that led the [apparently straight] victim to consider suicide, and five of his harassers to face disciplinary action, including loss of rank and pay. According to the “Navy Times,” the investigation: “revealed that over the eight months of harassment, which includes the four-month deployment when Florida fired cruise missiles into Libya, this behavior flourished and went unreported among the crew.”

    Even without the recent violent assault on a gay man in Long Beach by four Marines, it’s long past time that we stop pretending that over 200 year of institutionalized homophobia by the military would be wiped away by a few pretty words and PowerPoint slides—and for everyone with influence to stop worrying about rocking the boat in the repeal battle that has already been won, and to seriously go on the offense about our challenges today. We don’t have to wait for a future Republican administration or Congress to institute discrimination against LGB service members. It exists, by Pentagon policy, NOW, and there is no mission-relative excuse for it—or for our community and professional LGB advocate organizations tolerating it. Enough with the polite letters to the Secretary of Defense and Commander-in-Chief that have only been met with silence. It is time to demand that they order the Pentagon to include LGBs under the Military Equal Opportunity Program.

    As Anu Bhagwati, Marine veteran and Executive Director of Service Women’s Action Network, wrote last year:

    “The military’s simplistic rhetoric that ‘leadership’ will resolve cases of homophobic harassment and discrimination assumes that all commanders are good leaders and that no commanders are homophobic, which is a naïve notion at best. …. MEO policy exists precisely because the military acknowledges that leadership is imperfect, training is inadequate, and that the military itself is not free of bigotry. MEO policy exists so that victims of harassment or discrimination have a means of formally filing a grievance. … repealing DADT is only half the battle Allowing gays to openly serve while leaving them open to unfettered abuse and discrimination by disgruntled service members and irresponsible commanders will not improve military culture or hold bigots accountable. The least we can do now is finish what we started.”

  • ShowMeGuy

    But, the Right-Wing-Nuts promised. They promised that if Gays and Lesbians were allowed to serve honestly in the military that America would implode. But they promised.

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