The Palm Center at USC-Santa Barbara commissioned a study on the effect of repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell that included assessment of the policy, as well as interviews with a bipartisan group of military leaders. The results should rock the establishment homophobes, because the perspective was clear at the outset that unit cohesion, the oft-mentioned reason for keeping the ban, was a guiding principle in the research.

The Study Group emphasized that any changes to existing personnel policy must not create an unacceptable risk to the armed forces’ high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion that are the essence of military capability.

What were the findings? Let’s just say the Republican tactic of pulling out the homo straw man just doesn’t seem like a winner when you have military officers making these findings like these:

First, the findings:

Finding one: The law locks the military’s position into stasis and does not accord any trust to the Pentagon to adapt policy to changing circumstances

Finding two: Existing military laws and regulations provide commanders with sufficient means to discipline inappropriate conduct

Finding three: “Don’t ask, don’t tell” has forced some commanders to choose between breaking the law and undermining the cohesion of their units

Finding four: “Don’t ask, don’t tell” has prevented some gay, lesbian, and bisexual service members from obtaining psychological and medical care as well as religious counseling

Finding five: “Don’t ask, don’t tell” has caused the military to lose some talented service members

Finding six: “Don’t ask, don’t tell” has compelled some gay, lesbian, and bisexual service members to lie about their identity

Finding seven: Many gays, lesbians, and bisexuals are serving openly

And make no mistake – the recommendations go against the position of every top tier GOP candidate in 2008. Does that mean they know more than senior officers in the military?

Recommendations are below the fold.

Recommendation 1. Congress should repeal 10 USC § 654 and return authority for personnel policy under this law to the Department of Defense.

Recommendation 2. The Department of Defense should eliminate “don’t tell” while maintaining current authority under the Uniform Code of Military Justice and service regulations to preclude misconduct prejudicial to good order and discipline and unit cohesion. The prerogative to disclose sexual orientation should be considered a personal and private matter.

Recommendation 3. Remove from Department of Defense directives all references to “bisexual,” “homosexual,” “homosexual conduct,” “homosexual acts,” and “propensity.” Establish in their place uniform standards that are neutral with respect to sexual orientation, such as prohibitions against any inappropriate public bodily contact for the purpose of satisfying sexual desires.

Recommendation 4. Immediately establish and reinforce safeguards for the confidentiality of all conversations between service members and chaplains, doctors, and mental health professionals.

If senior military officers don’t have issues with gays and lesbians openly serving, what is John (“intolerable risk“) McCain’s problem?


Also, the 60 Minutes piece featuring recently discharged Army medic and decorated service member Darren Manzella will re-air this Sunday. SLDN:

Originally broadcast in December 2007, the story includes an interview with Sericemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) client and openly gay Army Sergeant Darren Manzella and an update noting that he has since been discharged under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law.  Manzella, who served tours of duty in Iraq and Kuwait, spoke with Stahl about the overwhelming support he received from both his fellow soldiers and superiors after coming out last year.  Stahl’s report also looks at SLDN’s work in assisting service personnel such as Manzella, and the organization’s campaign to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”  

…”Sergeant Manzella’s story illustrates the arbitrary and uneven enforcement of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.  Manzella’s dismissal has nothing to do with the fact that he is gay, and everything to do with the fact that he spoke to Leslie Stahl and CBS,” said SLDN executive director Aubrey Sarvis.  “The Pentagon doesn’t want America to know that military commanders think ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is obsolete.  Had 60 Minutes not aired this story, all evidence indicates that Darren would still be serving in the Army as an openly gay soldier and American troops in a war zone would continue to be bravely served by a skilled medic.”

Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding