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Should we really Not Ask and Don’t Tell?

January 3, 2011

One of the greatness of our country is that it prides itself on inclusive equality. We like to look at those who we feel are being left out of the American Dream and make modifications to make them feel the dream is achievable. However, at what cost? I am a strong believer that the private life of an individual should have no bearing on their professional potential but as far as the military goes, I find passing “Don’t Ask-Don’t Tell” to be filled with potential havoc.

As a military veteran, I know first-hand that the lives of soldiers cannot be clearly separated by private or professional. In other words, soldiers do not have such a thing as privacy. A soldier’s “private” home that he shares with his family, whether on or off base, can be inspected, a soldier can be legally punished for cheating on their spouse and they can be disciplined for obtaining a tattoo under “Damage to Government Property” policies. Keep this in mind, the military’s policy was not against gays serving in the military. It was against them being able to serve openly in the military, as this may draw duty, service and mission complications. Let’s face it. The recruitment of soldiers is down and Congress is scrambling to find ways to increase recruitment so they can have more “resources” to play with. Rather than re-institute the “draft” creating massive hysteria, this was the more plausible direction to go into. After all, these are a group of individuals completely willing to serve. U.S. Senator John McCain even said, “Now (wartime) isn’t the time to force such legislation.” But he’s wrong! In the eyes of those who would like to quickly and effortlessly replace our over 4,000 fallen soldiers, it is actually the perfect time.

But here are the distinct problems. First, many individuals who are advocating for the repeal of this policy never personally served in the military a day in their life; not understanding complexities that are not in a manual. Second, our soldiers work, eat, and sleep in intimate proximities. This means that our soldiers will be forced to, not ONLY, work with a soldier with an affinity orientation they disagree with, they will be forced into domestic settings with them. In the military, soldiers are regularly scantily clad around each other and having to share intimate spaces together. Forcing a straight male to be subject to shower with a homosexual male is the same as forcing a straight female soldier to shower with a straight male soldier. Though the male may have no attraction to the female, it still subjects the female to visual violations by the male. So do we secure the rights of individuals by violating the rights of others? Will straight soldiers be forced to remain fully dressed even in, what used to be, the privacy of his or her barracks? Thirdly, during wartime soldiers are expected to abstain from sex. Previously, enforcing this was pretty simple; separate the males from the females. This is done, or monitored, during basic training and wartime environments. How will the military now address this? Will showering and sleeping accommodations be made for gay female soldiers and gay male soldiers? If there will be, expect tax costs and spending to increase; but will individuals who disagree with this policy be allowed to not pay the increased tax burden if accommodations will be made? This is not an attack on the insatiability of the gay sexual hormones. Let’s be honest, straight soldiers have been known to sneak a tryst or two in during war and battle training. It is about being able to monitor the behavior effectively.

There is a term called non-rivalry in economics. It says there are certain elements of public policy or public goods that people can benefit from without taking away benefits from another person. Prime example would be a beach. Individuals can enjoy the beach equally without the use of the water being taken away from others as they swim. I believe as we evolve as a country we must be careful not to take away the serenity of some in order to add it to others. Honestly, I see the reckless implementation of this policy as the foundation to get full state participation on same-sex marriage. Be on the lookout for this across the states. While I do not disagree with allowing anyone to serve in the military or homosexuals having the same benefits in legal unions as heterosexuals, I sternly disagree with the shortsightedness we have taken to bring Don’t Ask – Don’t Tell to life. There are simply certain careers that all persons should not participate due to the intricate dynamics of the job; i.e. allowing senior citizens to become police officers or a schizophrenic to become a commercial airline pilot. Implementing this policy without clearly defined parameters to make everyone “at ease” can cause more harm than good.

To the naked eye it may seem that soldiers are not that concerned with this policy. However, while on active duty they are forbidden to speak out on Government issues, which, by the way, further alienate their opinions from the missions they are ordered to perform. Furthermore, if the implementation of DADT is not well thought out and has to be reversed for whatever reason, it will be more draining on America’s emotions and a grave disservice to homosexuals.

We must learn not to be backseat drivers, band wagoneers, Monday morning quarterbacks, and arena spectators when we form our judgment and put action behind it. We must be sensitive to those that will be mandated to live closer under the votes we cast, meanwhile we remain unaffected. The proposed accommodations for the soldiers affected by this policy should be the focus first made to the American people, not the passing of the policy. Government loves to work backwards and it’s why we can’t seem to dig out of our deficit. My basic question remains, if your private sex life shouldn’t matter in order to serve in the military, then why bother separate males from females in their living and sleeping quarters altogether? But hey, since less than 15% of our country ever seeks education beyond high school, yet we live as a “majority rules” society, we should actually expect our country to continuously be moving in an undereducated direction.

Devin Robinson is a business and economics professor in Atlanta, Georgia and author of Rebuilding the Black Infrastructure: Making America a Colorless Nation. He can be reached at

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Robert permalink
    January 3, 2011 5:12 pm

    Good insight. Intestering comments.

  2. January 3, 2011 6:17 pm

    Those are some of the same points made against blacks joining the service and working side by side with whites.

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