“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the ban on gay personnel serving openly in the military, ended last September. Studies show the repeal has not had a lasting negative effect on the U.S. armed forces’ operations.
The policy was the product of a compromise between the Clinton administration and congressional Republicans in 1993. It kept gay and lesbian troops from revealing their sexual orientation due to possible discharge from service. The policy was repealed by the Obama administration in December 2010, and was fully repealed in September.
Capt. John Kirby, Pentagon spokesman, issued a press release saying any impact on Department of Defense operations is “negligible.”
G.I. Jobs magazine listed Texas State as one of the top military-friendly universities in the country in 2012. More than 1,000 veterans attend Texas State.
Carl (who requested to remain anonymous due to being enlisted as active duty), Texas State junior and National Guardsman, said he recalls his unit exhibiting acceptance toward a fellow gay service member. This occurred before DADT was repealed.
“Everyone sort of just knew, and no one really cared,” he said.
Carl said although off-color jokes about gays are sometimes cracked during day-to-day operations, this is expected in the “testosterone bath” that is the military.
“As far as real changes in morale, I can say there have been none,” Carl said.
A study done by Congressional Research Services released two weeks ago revealed the Department of Defense’s 3-tier plan of the old policy’s reversal.
In the report, David F. Burrelli, specialist in military manpower policy, said the military focused on outreach through chaplains and lawyers. It also required those in leadership positions to train and educate their troops.
Though the policy is defunct, gay service members’ families are not afforded all benefits received by their opposite-sex counterparts, reported Laurence Watts of the Huffington Post. This includes basic allowance for housing and separation allowance, a $250 monthly stipend.
The Defense Department sent out a press release October 2011 outlining rights newly afforded to the families of gay service members. Since the repeal, gay service members can now award a death gratuity of $100,000 to their partners in the event they are killed in action. Also among the provisions are the options to include their partners as veterans’ insurance beneficiaries and include them on their thrift savings plans.
According to Karl Johnson, TIME reporter, one of the greatest hurdles faced by families of gay service members is lack of support from the government. During a soldier’s permanent change of station, their spouses often have to make their own costly relocation arrangements.
A survey conducted by Military Times this past March reported 73 percent of straight troops regard serving with openly gay service members a non-issue. However, approximately 20 percent said members of their unit “coming out” negatively affected morale.
The survey also found that despite the newly tolerant climate of the military, only one in 25 soldiers decided to come out following DADT’s repeal.
Cid Standifer, writer for Military Times who specializes in military research, said enlisted soldiers are still afraid of being socially ostracized despite the open policy.
“There’s still a sense that it’s a culturally conservative place,” Standifer said. “They might feel there’s this unnecessary hostility that they don’t want to deal with.”
Standifer said the personal lives of military personnel are linked to their military involvement, and sometimes it’s impossible for them to separate the two.
David, (who requested he remain anonymous due to being enlisted as active duty), Texas State student and National Guard sergeant, said the initial repeal of DADT was a “culture shock” to troops. They had operated for so long in an environment where homosexuality was historically not tolerated.
“I won’t lie — it took adjusting to,” he said. “After going to training together, being out there for days, though, it doesn’t matter.”
The instruction technology and management senior said brotherhood and trust ultimately trump any personal objections towards homosexuality.
“Being a soldier, sexual preference doesn’t matter to me at all,” David said. “It’s all about protecting the person to your left or right.”