Monday, June 08, 2009


The Supreme Court has decided against hearing a challenge to the Defense Department's "don't ask, don't tell" policy concerning homosexual men and women serving in the military. I have to say, even given the conservative make-up of the court right now, I find this really disappointing. I find it even more disturbing that the White House has said they won't stop the military from dismissing gays and lesbians from military service. I really like the President, and I think he and his administration are on track with most things. I really do not like the half-hearted stance he and his administration take on gay rights.


solon said...

It is probably best that the court does not here the case. I am not sure if the votes are there, espcially when there military is enganged in two armed conflicts.

As for Obama, this, like many other activities and policies, is a matter of kairos, knowing the moment. Once we know more about the economy and health care, and once he can build his credibility with the military, it will change. I soul expect bthis to occur in the third year or fifth year of his adminstration, if he gets reelected.

harrogate said...

Hmmm, one thing about the Don't Ask Don't Tell opposition that Harrogate wonders.

What is the answer to the argument that openly gay servicemen and women would create tension in the barracks? Who is in favor, for example, of putting heterosexual male and female soldiers in the same barracks, showering together, etc.

And, is Harrogate even spelling barracks right?

The Roof Almighty said...

If Starship Troopers is to be trusted, co-ed showers are AWESOME.

If Ally McBeal is to be trusted, then both genders have to smell Callista Flockhart vomit up her egg-whites and esophagus.

Would that be any more "tense" of a situation than having <10% of your fellow soldiers secretly gay?

Here are the things an American soldier can be tense about in the shower:
1) Anyone could be gay
2) Mortars
3) KBR built this shower and I smell ozone
4) Ted's gay

4) Seems reassuring, by comparison

harrogate said...

Roof, see, this all makes sense to Harrogate. But do not underestimate the power of option #4.

#4 is a bit different than #1, you must admit.

As for coed showers as well as "Ted" showering with Frank and Earl, Harrogate shares your sanguineness, but wonders if, as a matter of military policy (or even, say, at the local gym), it is really so simple as all that.

harrogate said...

More broadly speaking, m, harrogate could not disagree more adamantly with the following sentence:

"I really do not like the half-hearted stance he and his administration take on gay rights."

Harrogate, some of ye might remember, fought against this line vociferously during a primary capaign in which he didn't even support Obama. the idea that Obama is lackluster on the issue of gay rights is really bizarre when you consider the fact that his rhetoric concerning gay rights, when compared to all other Presidents and most federal officials combined, is nothing short of Revolutionary.

Here we have a President who speaks frequently about our "gay brothers and sisters," and who as an African American role model especially, has been really amazing in terms of calling out homophobia. His support of Civil Unions has been outspoken and steadfast, but somehow that isn't good enough for someone like Andrew Sullivan who (with no personal interest in the matter, of course) argues that the issue of Gay Marriage is the "core civil rights issue of our time." Well, it's an absurd argument of course, but Harrogate says that if you really buy the idea that we as a nation have progressed to the point that our most pressing civil rights issue is whether or not the government calls gay unions "marriage," and whether or not one can be openly gay and serve in the military, then we are in pretty damned good shape.

There are many things Harrogate taks issue with Obama on, but his unprecedented stance on gay rights is not one of them.

Ted said...

Regarding #4: I'm offended.

solon said...


If you conceive of the military as being a highly authoritarian structure, anything that would jeopardize that strict sense of structure would be "profane." The military creates a sense of "discipline" on its subjects. Love, or lust, breaks that discipline, which disrupts the channeling of desire and emotion necessary for the military (after all, it is hard to kill someone after sex.)

Another factor: because of the current demographics of the military, poor and less educated, mixed with Southern and Christian, these are not the groups that politically support same-sex rights let alone tolerate them. Just like the desegregation of the military, which occurred in the 1950s under Truman after WWII, it seems like it will take time to adjust the societal norms. This is occurring through the political process and, consequently, there is a better foundation to secure those rights through imposition through the presidency or the judiciary.

However, these are normative arguments and subject to empirical realty. But unless you change the hierarchy of the military, you will not change the norms of the military.

harrogate said...



M said...

Harrogate, this is one of the few issues we disagree on. If you read the entire article I linked to, I think you'll see that there are a number of gay men and women serving as openly as they can in the military at this very moment--even in Iraq and Afghanistan. By as openly as I can, I mean they are open to their fellow soldiers, if not to their commanding officers. From what I've read on this issue, it isn't much of an issue. What most soldiers seem to be concerned about is whether or not their comrades can do their jobs correctly--they want someone next to them who will protect them and are less concerned about that individual's sexuality than the soldiers of 50 or even 25 years ago.

But then, I also think comparing gay rights to the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 60s is an apt comparison, while you do not.

Solon, I actually agree with your first comment a lot. I did some more reading yesterday after I posted and I think that this is more of a legislative issue than a judicial issue. I am disappointed that the court won't hear the discrimination case of this one individual, but I don't think the court could make any major legislative issues based on hearing the case.

M said...

One more thing, Harrogate: having separate bathrooms hasn't exactly kept male and female soldiers in any branch of the military from fraternizing, as evidenced by the number of women who return home from a 6 month deployment on Navy ships pregnant.

harrogate said...

"I also think comparing gay rights to the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 60s is an apt comparison, while you do not."

Harrogate wants to qualify this a bit. The reason he does not find it an apt comparison is of course NOT because he thinks that rights for homosexuals are somehow less important than are rights for African Americans or any other Americans.

The reason Harrogate doesn;t find it apt is that the conditions surrounding these movemenets are soooo different.

Of course we continue to have rampant homophobia (as with racism and other bigotries) in the United States, but it is pretty damned manifestly true that the country has made great strides in this area over the decades.

We do not have widespread institutional violence against homosexuals in this country today. Most employers and ALL accredited universities have the disclaimer about not discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation.

_Lawrence v Texas_ was a landmark ruling that should be celebrated to the nines, and the fact that it was needed at all in the 21st century shows there is work to be done.

But, ye cannot persuade people who are not already Ideologues on the issue, by telling them that American homosexuals suffer institutional discrimination in a way that comes even close to what they endured at the beginning of Clinton's Presidency, let alone what African Americans suffered in the 1950s and 1960s.

Long qualifier done, your point that military people have sex with each other is of course well taken. And yours and Roofs' reminder that the soldiers ideally would be more worried about competence and avoiding mortar shells, than about whether or not Ted (sorry, Ted) is gay.

But solon's rejoinder, re the hierarchal and demographic makeup of the military is not to be brushed away with anecdote nor with humor.

The Roof Almighty said...

The wonder of the military: nobody gives a fuck what the demographic make-up wants. The demographic make-up didn't want women or blacks and they were to told to shut the fuck up and left face, HARCH, and they did what they were told.

The beauty of a true hierarchy is that, at the bottom, all complaints share the same weight: sweetfuckall.