Archive for the ‘Gays in the Military’ Category
From Marriage Equality USA, here’s a table showing each 2012 presidential candidate’s plans on 12 issues that affect America’s estimated 31 million LGBT voters. The issues are grouped into four categories: marriage, job discrimination, military LGBs, and justice.
Prakash concludes that “it is not time for the administration to re-examine the issue.” Instead, he writes, “it is time for the administration to examine how to implement the repeal of the ban.”
Good for Prakash. Let’s have an end to foot-dragging and the Bush-style “needs-more-study” excuse. The time to repeal the ban is now.
The article reports that the ban has resulted in the loss of approximately 12,500 personnel since 1993, when it took effect. The rationale behind the law was that the presence of gays and lesbians in the ranks would undermine group cohesion and might even cause a “mass exodus” of servicemembers. But Prakash claims group cohesion has suffered significantly from the loss of so many trained personnel.
The current law, he writes, “forces a compromise in integrity, conflicts with the American creed of ‘equality for all,’ places commanders in difficult moral dilemmas, and is ultimately more damaging to the unit cohesion its stated purpose is to preserve.”
Prakash researched the gay-inclusive policies of military services in Australia, Canada, and Britain for his article. He found no evidence of any impact on military performance and reports that no “mass exodus” occurred in these countries.
Though Prakash’s article carries no official weight, it may contribute to the pressure that President Obama is now under to fulfill his campaign pledge of ending the ban on gays in the military.
The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, representing gay and lesbian soldiers who have been discharged, has hailed the article. Meanwhile, the conservative Center for Military Readiness continues to insist that lifting the ban will have negative effects on recruitment, morale, and unit cohesion.
In the current issue of Free Inquiry (October-November 2009), a 22-year-old U.S. Navy sailor writing under the name of N. Bonaparte describes his encounter with military chaplains and psychologists after his homosexual identity was revealed to his superiors. Bonaparte was an outstanding sailor, had received a Navy Achievement Medal and other awards, and aspired to serve in public office after a successful tour of duty with the Navy. When his homosexuality was discovered, Bonaparte went into a deep depression and was referred to a chaplain—a fundamentalist Christian with no credentials in counseling who tried to force his religious beliefs about homosexuality on Bonaparte.
Bonaparte was not only gay but atheist, and so his sessions with the chaplain were doubly inappropriate and left him even more depressed than before, even suicidal. He was eventually referred to a military psychologist, who helped him get back on track and deal confidently with the charges against him. But, writes Bonaparte, the military routinely stigmatizes soldiers who seek psychological counseling and thereby imposes an extra burden on those who, quite understandably, become depressed over their treatment under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.
Bonaparte questions the military’s practice of referring troubled servicepersons to chaplains first, regardless of the serviceperson’s religious background. Often, chaplains are neither trained nor licensed as counselors and are ideologically ill-suited to dealing with non-believers or homosexuals. Bonaparte writes, “I don’t think someone who breaks with the American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association by refusing to recognize homosexuality as nonpathological is qualified to assess, counsel, or treat someone for anything other than religious or spiritual problems.”
Bonaparte blames the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy for creating a culture of secrecy, lies, and double lives, and he blames the pervasive “Christianization” of the military for filling the chaplaincy ranks with ministers from fundamentalist or evangelical traditions.
“The policy of turning to chaplains first,” he concludes, “…fails desperately to meet the needs of members who are gay, nonreligious, or who may have serious mental health issues.” The predictable outcome of this misguided policy is that America’s armed forces regularly lose highly-trained personnel to suicides, psychological breakdowns, and premature withdrawals from duty.