WBEZ | gays in the military http://www.wbez.org/tags/gays-military Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Marine general who opposed 'Don't Ask' repeal says ending ban was 'a non-event' http://www.wbez.org/story/marine-general-who-opposed-dont-ask-repeal-says-ending-ban-was-non-event-94400 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-November/2011-11-28/AP101203038183.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Marine Gen. James F. Amos, the face of opposition in the military to lifting the ban on gays serving openly, now acknowledges his concern has proven unfounded that repeal would undermine the war effort. In fact, he says, Marines have embraced the change.</p><p>In an Associated Press interview, Amos called the repeal in September "a non-event."</p><p>That is in contrast to his cautionary words to Congress in December 2010, shortly before President Barack Obama signed the repeal legislation. The ban was not lifted until this year to allow the Pentagon to prepare troops for the change.</p><p>"Successfully implementing repeal and assimilating openly homosexual Marines into the tightly woven fabric of our combat units has strong potential for disruption at the small unit level as it will no doubt divert leadership attention away from an almost singular focus on preparing units for combat," Amos testified. Still, he said at the time that if the law were changed, it would be faithfully followed by Marines.</p><p>He now sees no sign of disruption in the ranks — even on the front lines.</p><p>"I'm very pleased with how it has gone," Amos said during a weeklong trip that included four days in Afghanistan, where he heard nary a word of worry about gays. During give-and-take sessions with Marines serving on in Helmand province, he was asked about a range of issues, including the future of the Corps — but not one about gays.</p><p>In the interview, he also offered an anecdote from the home front to make his point that the change has been taken in stride.</p><p>He said that at the annual ball in Washington this month celebrating the birth of the Marine Corps, a female Marine approached Amos' wife, Bonnie, and introduced herself and her lesbian partner.</p><p>"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."</p><p>Looking back, Amos said he had no regrets about publicly opposing repeal during wartime. He said he had felt obliged, as commandant of the Corps, to set aside his personal opinions and represent the views of the 56 percent of combat Marines who told a Defense Department survey last year that repeal could make them less effective and cohesive in combat.</p><p>"I think I did exactly what I should have done," Amos said. "I've never looked back on it and said it (his concern) was misplaced."</p><p>Not only did Amos hear no talk about the repeal's impact during his visit to Afghanistan, the subject also did not arise when he fielded questions from Marines on board the USS Bataan warship in the Gulf of Aden on Saturday.</p><p>In Bahrain on Sunday, one Marine broached the topic gently. He asked Amos whether he planned to change the Marines' policy of leaving it to the discretion of local commanders to decide how to handle complaints about "homosexual remarks or actions." Amos said no.</p><p>He 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.</p><p>A Defense Department spokeswoman, Cynthia O. Smith, said implementation of the repeal of the gay ban is proceeding smoothly across the military.</p><p>"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.</p><p>In the months leading up to Congress' repeal, there were indications that the change might not be embraced so readily.</p><p>During a visit to a Marine combat outpost in southern Afghanistan in June, then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates was confronted by an enlisted Marine who clearly objected to the repeal. He told Gates that the Marine Corps had "a set of standards and values that is better than that of the civilian sector," and that repeal of the gay ban had "changed those values."</p><p>He asked Gates whether Marines who object to serving with gays would be allowed to opt out of their enlistment. Gates said no and predicted that if pre-repeal training was done right, "nothing will change" with regard to rules of behavior and discipline.</p><p>That Marine was not alone in making known his doubts about the wisdom of allowing gays to serve openly in uniform. In a survey of military members last year, 45 percent of Marines viewed repeal negatively in terms of how it could affect combat readiness, effectiveness and cohesion. Among those Marines who serve in combat roles, 56 percent expressed that view.</p><p>The issue split the military. Gates and other senior military leaders supported lifting the restrictions, pointing to a Pentagon study showing that most people in uniform don't object to serving with gays.</p><p>But Amos and his Army counterpart bucked their bosses to recommend against lifting the ban during wartime.</p><p>"I don't want to lose any Marines to the distraction," Amos said then.</p></p> Mon, 28 Nov 2011 20:58:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/marine-general-who-opposed-dont-ask-repeal-says-ending-ban-was-non-event-94400 Report on 'don’t Ask, don’t tell' effects released http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/report-don%E2%80%99t-ask-don%E2%80%99t-tell-effects-released <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//Gays_Military_Lea_s640x535_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Tuesday the U.S. Department of Defense released its long-awaited <a target="_blank" href="http://www.defense.gov/home/features/2010/0610_gatesdadt/">study</a> on the impact of repealing the military policy &quot;don&rsquo;t ask, don&rsquo;t tell.&quot; The goal of the report was to understand how allowing openly gay soldiers to serve would affect the military, particularly in terms of its readiness for combat.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>The group tasked with the report surveyed active and former members, both gay and straight. Over two-thirds of respondents said lifting the ban would have positive, mixed or no effect on the military.</p><p>To analyze the results and what the report means moving forward, Eight Forty-Eight spoke to <a target="_blank" href="http://www.history.northwestern.edu/people/lynn.html">John Lynn</a>. Lynn is a distinguished professor of military history at Northwestern University.</p></p> Wed, 01 Dec 2010 13:53:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/report-don%E2%80%99t-ask-don%E2%80%99t-tell-effects-released "Don't Ask, Don't Tell": Don't even think it'll pass in lame duck session http://www.wbez.org/blog/achy-obejas/dont-ask-dont-tell-dont-even-think-itll-pass-lame-duck-session <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//obama_dont_ask_dont_tell_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>As I write this, Congress is gearing to come back to work for its lame duck session &ndash; a last chance Texaco before the new, more conservative class takes over as midterm victors.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img width="500" height="308" alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/sites/default/files/obama_dont_ask_dont_tell.jpg" /></p><p>And Harry Reid, Democratic majority leader on his last hurrah, has already indicated that his top priority bills are a stopgap economic measure and the Bush tax cuts, which everyone suddenly seems to agree on in principle but which no doubt will consume the entire two weeks before Thanksgiving in hashing out just exactly how much they disagree in fact.</p><p>Off that legislative list? The defense budget authorization bill. And even if it were to somehow miraculously re-appear on the agenda, it&rsquo;s quite likely it would be without the amendment to repeal &quot;Don&rsquo;t Ask, Don&rsquo;t Tell,&quot; the odious policy which bars openly gay people, no matter how qualified or committed, from serving in the U.S. military.</p><p>Jason Linkins at the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/11/08/dems-to-cave-on-dadt-repe_n_780371.html">Huffington Post</a> detailed the complete Democratic cave-in on the issue.</p><p>In the last few days, between his mojo-less dance in India and the visit to his childhood home in Indonesia, the mainstream media has let President Obama go on the record with how much he and his administration oppose any efforts to stop repeal of DADT. You&rsquo;ll notice no one actually asks the president what he plans to do about it.</p><p>Is there anybody left that really thinks Obama gives a crap about queer people? Or that, if he did, he could actually take decisive action?</p><p>Because I, for one, am just having an Alice-in-Wonderland hard time reconciling how committed Barack says he is to our civil rights with the obstinate legal strategy he insists on using to defend DADT in the courts and which he arrogantly refuses to explain. (Yeah, I know he says it&rsquo;s Congress who should overturn DADT &ndash; can we hear why? Can somebody from the administration tell us how defending DADT is really all about killing it?)</p><p>And is there anybody who thinks the GOPers, particularly the rabidly anti-gay new members of Congress and their emboldened brethren, care one whit about the president&rsquo;s position?</p><p>Of course not. And it&rsquo;s not just because they Republicans are still high from &ldquo;shellacking&rdquo; the president and the Dems. It&rsquo;s because Obama has proven to be the easiest commander-in-chief to bring to his knees, even on signature legislation such as healthcare. Does anyone believe that even the pale version of healthcare that passed would have ever gotten a presidential signature without Nancy Pelosi? Hell no.</p><p>Ain&rsquo;t nobody even a little bit scared of Barack, within or without his party.</p><p>Cobble this sad little fact with the Republicans&rsquo; almost completely unanswered use of same sex marriage as a scare tactic for the last 20+ years, and it seems a good guess that, unless pro-gay Democratic congressmen want to do some freelance heavy lifting, DADT is dead in the water.</p></p> Wed, 10 Nov 2010 14:15:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/achy-obejas/dont-ask-dont-tell-dont-even-think-itll-pass-lame-duck-session Film shows human side of 'don’t ask, don’t tell' debate http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/film-shows-human-side-don%E2%80%99t-ask-don%E2%80%99t-tell-debate <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//marine story movie resize.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Last week&rsquo;s election results cast doubt on what once seemed close to a mission accomplished: The repeal of &quot;don&rsquo;t ask, don&rsquo;t tell.&quot;<br /><br />The military policy bans gay soldiers from serving openly. Since taking office, President Obama has repeatedly called for its repeal but under a new Congress that&rsquo;s unlikely to happen anytime soon.</p><p>A new film attempts to take the debate over &quot;don&rsquo;t ask, don&rsquo;t tell.&quot; out of the political arena and into everyday life. &quot;<a href="http://www.amarinestorymovie.com/#" target="_blank">A Marine Story</a>&quot; follows Alexandra Everett as she returns home after being discharged under the policy.</p><p>The film screens tonight as part of <a target="_blank" href="http://www.reelingfilmfestival.org/">Reeling: The Chicago Lesbian &amp; Gay International Film Festival</a>. The protagonist is played by <a target="_blank" href="http://www.dreyaweber.com/bio.html">Dreya Weber</a>. She and her husband, the film&rsquo;s director, <a target="_blank" href="http://www.nedfarr.com/">Ned Farr</a>, joined Eight Forty-Eight to discuss the film and its commentary on the controversial policy.</p></p> Tue, 09 Nov 2010 15:19:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/film-shows-human-side-don%E2%80%99t-ask-don%E2%80%99t-tell-debate