Don’t Ask, Don’t Hear

Timothy Kincaid

December 13th, 2007

mazilla.JPGThis Sunday’s 60 Minutes will feature a gay soldier who told, and told, and told.

[Sgt. Darren] Manzella, a medic who served in Iraq for a year, currently serves as medical liaison for the 1st Cavalry Division stationed in Kuwait, where he says he is “out” to his entire chain of command, including a three-star general.

And no one heard.

He then says his commander reported him, as he was obliged to do, and then “I had to go see my battalion commander, who read me my rights,” he says. He turned over pictures of him and his boyfriend, including video of a passionate kiss, to aid the investigation. But to his surprise, “I was told to go back to work. There was no evidence of homosexuality,” says Manzella. “‘You’re not gay,'” he says his superiors told him. This response confused him and, he says, the closest a superior officer came to addressing his sexuality was to say “I don’t care if you’re gay or not.”

Although many of the Republican candidates for President think that servicemen and women are too conservative to bond with a gay fighter, I suspect that when it comes to fellow warriors, our soldiers are more interested in conserving their skin than conserving their prejudices.

For more information on how you can make an impact in changing this discriminatory and freedom-threatening policy, visit the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network website. (Photo curtesy of SLDN)

Patrick

December 13th, 2007

I once heard that they only care if you try to hide it. If you try to hide it and they find out you’ll get kicked out. If you don’t try to hide it they won’t do anything.

I can’t support this with evidence, it’s just what someone in the military told me.

grantdale

December 13th, 2007

Well, there is a war on you know.

When it’s over and we no longer require your services, then we’ll believe you’re gay.

Until then, little buddy, the firing line is over there…

Jason

December 14th, 2007

What I also think is interesting, is the 3rd part of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. The full policy is “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Pursue”. In other words if you suspect a soldier is gay, you can’t follow him around gathering evidence. So theoretically, hiding it is supposed to be your best and only option.

How well they adhere to the “don’t pursue” part is anyone’s guess.

John

December 14th, 2007

Compare what this fellow has to say…

“U.S. Army Maj. Daniel Davis, speaking to Stahl out of uniform to emphasize that he does not speak for the U.S. military, says don’t ask, don’t tell is necessary to achieve cohesion among soldiers, especially those in combat. Most service members are conservative, he says, and won’t readily accept gays. ‘If you have a moral or religious issue, you cannot order me to [bond] with that [gay] person,’ says Davis, a specialist in battlefield tactics. ‘Our purpose in the military is not social engineering….It’s about fighting and winning the nation’s wars.'”

…with this from testimony by Kenneth C. Royall, Secretary of the Army, before the President’s Committee on Equality of Treatment and Opportunity In The Armed Forces on March 28, 1949:

“At the outset I want to make it clear that in my opinion the policies which should be applied to the use of all Army personnel, regardless of race, are those policies which best promote a sound national defense. Our basic mission is to win battles and to establish an organization capable of winning battles.

Specifically the Army is not an instrument for social evolution. It is not the Army’s job either to favor or to impede the social doctrines, no matter how progressive they may be – it is not for us to lead or to lag behind the civilian procession except to the extent that the national defense is affected…

Another – and an important – factor to be considered on the question of segregation is the morale of the troops as a whole – their satisfaction with Army life, and the spirit with which they perform Army tasks. In war, when the chips are down, this morale factor may well be the difference between victory and defeat.

We must remember that soldiers are not mere bodies that can be moved and handled as trucks and guns. They are individuals who came from civilian life and often return thereto. They are subject to all the emotions, prejudices, ideals, ambitions and inhibitions that encumber our civil population throughout the country.

Solders live and work closely together. They are not only on the same drill field also in the same living and eating quarters. From the standpoint both of morale and of efficiency it is important in peace and in war that the barracks and the unit areas be so attractive to them that they will devote not only their duty time but a reasonable part of their optional time at the post – that they will not be watching the clock for a chance to get away.

In war it is even more important that they have confidence both in their leaders and in the men that are to fight by their sides. Effective comradeship in battle calls for a warm and close personal relationship within a unit…

In this connection we must remember that a large part of the volunteers in the Army are Southerners – usually a larger proportion than from any other part of the country. Whether properly or not, it is a well known fact that close personal association with Negroes is distasteful to large percentage of Southern whites.

A total abandonment of – or a substantial and sudden change in – the Army’s partial segregation policy would in my opinion adversely affect enlistments and reenlistments not only in the South but in many other parts of the country, probably making peacetime selective service necessary. And a change in our policy would adversely affect the morale of many Southern soldiers and other soldiers now serving…

[I]n my opinion – and I believe in the opinion of a great majority of the experienced Army men and officers – it would be most difficult – and unwise from the standpoint of national defense – to require any substantial proportion of white soldiers – whether from the South or from other sections of the country – to serve under Negro officers or particularly under Negro non-commissioned officers.”

Sound familiar? Hmm…

Jason

December 14th, 2007

shouldn’t this work both ways, though?

‘If you have a moral or religious issue, you cannot order me to [bond] with that [gay] person,’ says Davis, a specialist in battlefield tactics. ‘Our purpose in the military is not social engineering….It’s about fighting and winning the nation’s wars.’”

in other words…”If you have a moral or religious issue, you cannot refuse to [bond] with that [gay] person…our purpose in the military is not about keeping the status quo…it’s about fighting and winning the nation’s wars.”

Seems to me, a former Marine brat, that part of the military is taking orders, and that the servicepeople don’t get to pick which wars they fight in, which combat zones they are in, who the enemy is, what they eat, or when they get to leave, —but they do get to dictate who they will work with? That it’s reasonable to expect someone to fight and die for whatever reasons the Commander in Chief chooses, but it’s unreasonable to expect them to work with someone gay? You can order someone to march until they’re in crippling pain, but you can’t order them to be a professional and work with someone different? Huh? What logic is that?

Steve Schalchlin

December 18th, 2007

I loved the story and thought that the pics of him and his boyfriend were beautiful. I loved seeing them together. I also like his comment that the soldiers themselves, the people of the “Will & Grace” generation, don’t care one whit if someone is gay.

It’s the leadership that has fallen behind.

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