During the 1992 presidential campaign the previous Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton addressed the issue of gays in the military. “It became one of the first issues Clinton tackled as President, but when the White House attempt to unilaterally repeal the ban stumbled, Congress passed a law to keep openly gay men and women from serving” (Webley, 2010, p. 1). On September 20, 2011 President Obama lifted the ban on gays in the military. “The change will allow service members to be open about their sexual orientation” (Youssef & Tate, 2011, p.
1). Some limitations and apprehensions about gays in the armed forces center on military effectiveness, unit cohesion, and combat operations. There is a high probability for potential moral, legal and ethical challenges such as “housing allowances, health care for spouses and children, or support for their families during overseas deployments” (Youssef & Tate, 2011, p. 1). Married gay and lesbian couples will not be able to receive all traditional military benefits provided to heterosexual couples because of government regulations.
“Title 10 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, written 30 years ago, only recognizes spouses of the opposite sex. In the Defense of Marriage Act, which Clinton signed in 1996, which prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages” (Youssef & Tate, 2011, p. 1). Government policy dictates that gays and lesbians can serve in the military. Every person should be afforded the same equal rights and lifting the ban on gays and lesbians in the military is a step toward equality.
Gays and lesbians are part of the military community and are proud to serve the United States. The Los Angeles times published an article and quoted Petty Officer Virginia Hansen as saying ‘Being able to wear our uniforms shows that it’s not just straight people who serve their country, it’s all of us’ (Perry, 2012, p. 1). Serving in the armed forces may require individuals to deploy to support combat operations, depending on the type of operation, it may be necessary for service members to receive combat training in preparation for the deployment.
The Obama administration did not have any concerns pertaining to combat operations, unit cohesion or military effectiveness. “Obama, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, signed a certification to Congress that lifting the ban won’t jeopardize the military’s combat readiness” (Youssef & Tate). By ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” we no longer deny military service to thousands of Americans who were forced to leave the military because of sexual orientation.
This action also allows individuals who were denied enlistment because of sexual orientation to re-apply for military service. During our most recent wars in Iraq, and Afghanistan, British soldiers and American soldiers served side-by-side. The British government lifted their ban on homosexuals serving in the military in 2000. During the time our military members served with the British soldiers with no reported incidents of sexual harassment or indecent acts among our service members.
Although it is agreed that certain factors should disqualify individuals from serving, sexual orientation should not create a disadvantage. Homosexual’s serving openly in the military poses several challenges within the institution. One such challenge is the change in training objectives. The military is currently engaged in the Afghanistan conflict and training should be focused on preparation for combat operations but because of the repeal, several homosexual acceptance training modules must be completed by each individual serving in the military.
There are multiple challenges the military will face due to lifting the ban on homosexuals in the armed forces. The primary consideration must be military effectiveness (Owens, T. 2012). There probability of an increase in conflicts between military members because of religion, morals, and values is another issue of concern. There is also a “fear an exodus from the ranks” (Thomas & Washington, 2010, p. 1) which could lead to more discharges and separations in the armed forces.
Military effectiveness, combat readiness and mission accomplishment are the military’s priority. The team concept is an important element of the military’s structure. The new challenges that the military is facing jeopardizes the military organization. In summary being gay should not limit the opportunity to serve the country. Contrary to popular belief, it is impossible to know if someone is gay or not. Someone could be sitting next to a homosexual and there would be no way to tell. Simply put, the sexual orientation does not effect, or change anything about a person.
The fact that someone could be openly gay could create stress on individual teams and small units already at a high stress level. Although homosexuals are a minority, this does not mean it would make troops less efficient. An individual’s sexual orientation, when not acted on has no effect on unit readiness or the morale of the individuals assigned. A study by a United States think tank has found that lifting the ban on homosexuals in fact had no real impact on the unit readiness, cohesion, or morale in the armed forces, “The Canberra Times, 21 September 2000”
REFERENCES Brocco, M (2012). An international suggestion for LGB family benefits after the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”. National Lawyers Guild Review, 67(3), 156-180. EBSCOhost. Gays Can Serve Openly in the Military, LiveScience Staff, 18 December 2010 http://www. livescience. com/9151-senate-gays-serve-openly-military. html Gay in the Military Pro / Cons Resources http://debatepedia. idebate. org/en/index. php/Debate:_Gays_in_the_US_military Owens, T. (2012). The case against gays in the military.
Open homosexuality would threaten unit cohesion and military effectiveness. Retrieved October 6, 2012 from http://online. wsj. com/article/SB10001424052748703389004575033601528093416. html Perry, T. (2012). Los Angeles Times. Members of military march in San Diego gay pride parade. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 6, 2012 from http://articles. latimes. com/2012/jul/22/local/la-me-gay-military-20120722 Thompson, M. , Washington (2010). Congress resumes battle over gays in the military. Retrieved October 23, from http://www. time. com/time/politics/article/0,8599,1958253,00. html.