Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

An insider's view of DADT

This is my first diary, but I’ve been lurking around. I joined not only to be part of this community, but also to post this diary…because I was sick of getting in tussles with some egotistic self-absorbed poster over at MyDD, but nevermind that.

I had a conversation this weekend with a friend of my father’s who works at the Pentagon. My father is a former Major in the US Army. I chatted up my dad’s friend about DADT and got some interesting scoop as to what’s going on with it and why is it difficult to repeal

It had been clear in talking to my dad’s old Army buddies, some of whom are still in the Army and have high rankings, that the military brass opposes any repeal of DADT. They had fired warning shots about it to Democratic Presidential candidates last year and what makes it exceptionally difficult is the lack of respect among the brass for the President, who is not “one of them.” That respect is lessened by the fact that he defeated “one of them” (It’s worse in the Navy, where McCain had been idolized)

The brass essentially warned Obama to move slowly on DADT.

Now as for what my dad’s friend tells me…DADT is enforced only selectively…before the Bush administration it had been enforced very strongly. It was during Rumsfeld’s tenure that enforcement lapsed and now it is being used not for it’s original intention.

DADT is being enforced only by those who are true believers, in attempts to find ways to expel more liberal members of the military (don’t forget, LGBT soldiers are likely more liberal than your average soldier), and commonly used on soldiers who are either in a relationship, been caught have relations, or had gone public outside the military about it (“embarassing the institution”). Dad’s friend told of a well known example of the boyfriend of a Real World roommate who’s sexuality was well known around Fort Bragg, but the higher ups tried to find him and out him and get him out of the military…he eventually left the military anyway.

He also points out that it has been used almost exclusively on men, with some exceptions, because the higher ups don’t mind lesbians. “There’s more lesbian porn in Fort Bragg than in all of California” said my dad’s friend.

A final reason is that higher ups tend to use “gay intimidation” on their subordinates…when yelling at their troops, they tend to use language offensive to gays, such as the dredded F word and offensive remarks about gays not being manly…men raping other men, anal sex, oral sex and so on. I won’t use the phrases he did here, but you can imagine them.

and so on…and they fear harrassment lawsuits from gays. (They just want to feel comfortable using the inflammatory language).

Interesting fact I learned is that the Bush Administration considered rescinding DADT if they had to reinstate a draft because they feared men would “fake gay” to dodge the draft. I found friends of mine saying they would do that back in the day. Even dad’s friend admits that among younger soldiers, jokes and insinuations of being gay don’t rub them the wrong way.

While it’s true the President can stop DADT with an executive order…the order could easily be overturned by a future president and is not something I favor (neither does my dad’s friend, who, up until now, is the only Army person in my dad’s circle I met who favors a repeal).

The reason is simple…Congress, who ultimately has to permanently repeal DADT, has not moved on this…if Obama rescinds DADT by executive order, Congress will IMO wash their hands of it and move on. I want to see Congressional legislation…should that fail, an executive order needs to be the backup plan.

So what do we do?

Push Congress…this is probably not something they’ll take up in the middle of healthcare, but one thing to do, and I’ve done this, is write to your elected representatives and move to get others writing to them, asking them to co-sponsor, push for, and speak on the floor in favor of, a repeal of DADT. In the end it has to come from Congress to really be permanent.

Dad’s friend is almost certain DADT will be repealed by the next Presidential election and “is willing to bet” by the midterms.

For the Record: I wanted to join the Army (In August 2001, so dodged a bullet there) but dehabilitating Asthma kept me from taking the APFT…I would have probably died during the 2 mile run or one of the alternatives, but almost certainly would not have finished it in under 20 minutes. Anyway, dad didn’t want me to join, I’m an only son, and everything turned out great anyway.  


  1. and very well stated entre.

    What you say makes a lot of sense.  The basic truism that “just because you are President all the sudden doesn’t mean you can do anything you want” holds true as much for Obama as any president.  There are enormous forces and inertias at play and it is at least not surprising that this is going to be a more than ten day effort.

    Welcome to the Moose and I hope we see more of you!

  2. i saw that exchange.  im pretty sure that particular poster is famous for these types of tussles.


    Dad’s friend is almost certain DADT will be repealed by the next Presidential election and “is willing to bet” by the midterms.


  3. Thanks for posting it. The timing was a bit unlucky. We are kind of focused on Iran right now, as you’ve probably noticed. Usually comment thread for a diary about DADT would be fairly busy on the Moose.

  4. HappyinVT

    I was discharged from the Navy in November 1992 for “admitting to having a homosexual relationship while on active duty.”  This was before DADT was enacted but was certainly during the discussions as to what to do with LGBT serving.  I will also say I was confronted by my command master chief while I was in the hospital recovering from a (obviously) failed suicide attempt and while battling anorexia; my discharge was delayed until I was healthy enough to be released from the hospital.  I had mistakenly confided in a male co-worker about the relationship; he apparently went to the CMC who then gave me the option of an honorable discharge if I confessed to the relationship or an investigation into the allegations if I did not confess.  I did not want to put my friends at risk so I decided to take the discharge.

    Anyway, I vascillate between trying to be patient with the repeal of DADT and wanting quick action.  Ideally, I’d like Congress to make the move, but someone over at Daily Kos posted a link to an interview with Harry Reid in which he said that the Senate doesn’t have the votes to overturn it and he wants the president to deal with it administratively.  Barney Frank, during the transition I believe, said that DADT would be repealed this year.  Rep. Ellen Tauscher introduced legislation in March but so far it appears to be sitting there in the hopper.

    I truly believe that Obama, rightly or wrongly, isn’t going to let anything detract from getting healthcare reform passed this year.  My own personal timeline is to see action either this year or some sign of future action stated in the State of the Union.  That does not mean, however, that those who support DADT need to sit idly by.  I’m sending my DNC donation request back with a note that expresses my opinion about this issue.

    Lastly and equally important, welcome to the Moose.  I appreciate the insight; it doesn’t sound far-fetched.  I am hopeful, though, with Gates as SecDef who without any public fanfare, ended the practice of asking job applicants in lie-detector tests about their sexual orientation. He also halted investigations of whether employees were gay as part of the process for renewing security clearances. And the agency made it known that sexual orientation by itself would not be an employment barrier. we’ll see a repeal sooner rather than later.

  5. Kysen

    Good to see ya here….hope ya stick around.  😉

    I do disagree on one thing in particular from your diary, though, the bit ’bout those in the Navy being particularly dissatisfied with Obama’s election. I am a Navy brat (father is retired Captain), I live in a HUGE Navy town (Virginia Beach), and I socialize regularly with Navy personnel of all rank…there was, and is, HUGE support for Obama. There was a very strong Veterans for Obama group that worked tirelessly for his election, most of whom were retired Navy (LOTS of retired Navy in Virginia Beach). McCain did not have a particularly strong presence of support in this area…Navy or no. I’m not saying that everyone in teh Navy loves Obama….but, there is certainly no distinct majority bias against him that I have encountered.

    I do hope to see DADT repealed sooner rather than later. It is, I believe, not a matter of if…just a matter of when.


  6. nrafter530

    is some of the insulting posting some gay bloggers have made about the President.

    Calling him Barry Prejean, calling him a homophobe, a coward, a bastard, you name it.

    and then they said “we need to pressure the President”

    Pressure him? After you just demonized the man, you think you’re going to have any sway over him?

    This is what my fellow gay community leaders do, burn their bridges, demonize people who are their only hope.  

  7. mostly

    but the cliche “there are already gays in the military” has probably been true forever.

    My father was in the army in the early 60s – stationed in Germany.  He says that in the mess hall there was a “gay table”.  They all hung out together.  Everybody knew who they were.

    I’m sure the same thing is true today.  Thanks for the diary – it never occurred to me that DADT would be used to selectively kick out people the brass doesn’t like, but of course it’s obvious.

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