Studies Show Openly Gay Military Has No Negative Impact, Here or in Israel

Edge on the Net
By Jason St. Amand
September 13, 2012

It’s been a year since Congress repealed the much-detested Clinton Era “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” rule. No longer would LGBT members of America’s Armed Forces only be allowed to serve their country if they told no one their sexual orientation and no one found them out.

A year later, an academic study now shows what every industrialized nation from Israel to Great Britain to Argentina has already experienced: The repeal of the controversial policy has “no overall negative impact on military readiness or its component dimensions, including cohesion, recruitment, retention, assaults, harassment or morale,”

DADT went into effect in 1993 and finally came to an end on Sept. 20, 2011, with the support of President Barack Obama.

The Palm Center, a research branch of the Williams Institute at University of California Los Angeles Law School, published the study. The Palm Center is a think tank on matters of laws pertaining to sexual orientation and gender identity.

As reported on CNN, the study’s authors, scholars on gays in the military, included representatives from U.S. Military Academy, the Air Force Academy, the Naval Academy and the Marine Corps War College.

Professor Aaron Belkin, lead author of the study, and director of the center, said, “The report confirms what the research suggested all along.” The researchers followed up on a 2009 statement by 553 1,167 retired generals and admirals who signed a 2009 statement that claimed the repeal of DADT would “break the All-Volunteer Force.” Only 13 of the original signers responded. The report alleges that “they couldn’t point to any evidence that their concerns bore out.”

The researchers also spoke to right wing activists who opposed DADT repeal and with watchdog groups both for and against DADT repeal. The study also examined the extensive media coverage of repeal.

“Such organizations maintain large formal and informal networks of active-duty personnel and have considerable experience in ferreting out and reporting incidents of abuse and other disciplinary breakdowns,” the report noted.

The researchers spoke to active-duty LGBT service members from all branches of the Armed Forces. The report justified the interviews by noting that “no one is more qualified to comment on the impact of DADT repeal than active-duty service members, who live their lives and perform their duties in the context of the new policy of open service.”

A chief warrant officer in the Navy did complain that when DADT was first repealed she felt that there was “an increase of sneering jokes and stupid comments,” but that “they faded away fairly quickly.” An enlisted solider at a military university said that when DADT was in effect, other military members would use anti-gay terms “almost absent-mindedly and with little consequence.”

With repeal, he noted, “it was kind of a big deal for two weeks,” because soldiers considered how the language would impact fellow service members who were openly gay. That same student-soldier noted a new attitude, which he described as “Now that I know someone who is [gay], I’m talking about a real person. I’m not just using abstract insults [but words] that actually mean something.’”

Another recent study, also conducted by the Palm Center, found that openly gay service members did not negatively impact the Israel armed forces, widely considered the most best national military organization in the world. Palm scholars’ analysis of the Israel Defense Force found conclusively that the “presence of openly gay soldiers does not undermine unit cohesion.”

“As we reach the one year anniversary of repeal of the United States military’s ’Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy, this new study responds to the central concern that an integrated military would harm cohesion,” Aaron Belkin, director of the Palm Center, said.

Palm Center researchers surveyed 417 male Israeli soldiers from 22 military installations and “statistical analysis of responses to the survey indicated that for both combat and non-combat units, the presence of openly gay troops in a unit had no relationship to the cohesiveness of the unit.”

Israel has allowed gay men and women to openly service in the military since 1993.


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