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28 November 2011

Praise: Marine Corps Implementation of Repeal of DADT

It was not long ago that many religious and social conservatives were hysterical that the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT) would result in harm to the military.  My prediction was far more optimisitic.
The repeal of DADT and subsequent adjustments of military policy will end up strengthening the United States military.  When soldiers do not need to hide who they are, they will be more confident fighters.  When soldiers are not making assumptions about their fellow soldiers, they will be more confident fighters.  The necessary social bonding of our soldiers and sailors will enhance performance in the long run.
Today's Marine Corps Times has an interview of Marine Corps Commandant Jim Amos, who once opposed the repeal of DADT.
“I’m very pleased with how it has gone,” Amos said in an Associated Press interview during a week-long trip that included four days in Afghanistan, where he held more than a dozen town hall-style meetings with Marines of virtually every rank.
More of the article.
The apparent absence of angst about gays serving openly in the Marines seemed to confirm Amos’ view that the change has been taken in stride, without hurting the war effort.
In the AP interview, he offered an anecdote to make his point. He said that at the annual ball in Washington earlier this month celebrating the birth of the Marine Corps, a female Marine approached Amos’s wife, Bonnie, and introduced herself and her lesbian partner.
“Bonnie just looked at them and said, ‘Happy birthday ball. This is great. Nice to meet you,’ ” Amos said. “That is happening throughout the Marine Corps.”
Amos said he is aware of only one reported incident in Afghanistan thus far, and that turned out to be a false alarm. He said a blogger had written of a gay Marine being harassed by fellow Marines for his sexual orientation. In an ensuing investigation, the gay Marine denied he had been harassed.
A Defense Department spokeswoman, Cynthia O. Smith, said implementation of the repeal of the gay ban is proceeding smoothly across the military.
“We attribute this success to our comprehensive pre-repeal training program, combined with the continued close monitoring and enforcement of standards by our military leaders at all levels,” Smith said.
Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen all know the importance of unit cohesion.  The United States has the best trained military on the planet.  General Amos says later in the article that he does not regret opposing the repeal of DADT, but he is a patriotic American soldier.  Like his men, the General rises to the call of duty.  Kudos to General Amos and his brave men and women.

The work now needs to go on for full equality.  Harvard University recently hosted a discussion of the repeal of DADT.  They discussed some of the ongoing concerns.
One continued problem has been that potential employers often ask dismissed veterans for their discharge papers, which reflect the servicemembers’ sexual orientation.
Additionally, the panelists said that many servicemembers who were dismissed for their sexual orientation do not receive full severance pay and veteran benefits, including medical care.
The treatment of partners of gay soldiers is also a continuing problem, according to the panelists. [military veteran Travis] Hengen said he has decided not to go back into the military because his partner would not receive the same benefits as a heterosexual spouse, including access to military bases.
They also discussed the denial of service to transgender individuals.  The road to equality is bumpy, but it does appear to be the good road that we are slowly moving on.

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