The Culture War Within: Reconciling Policy Change and Military Culture After DADT
Armed Forces Journal, pp. 28-31, January/February 2011
4 Pages Posted: 23 Feb 2011
Date Written: February 1, 2011
On December 15, 2010 by a vote of 250-175, the US House of Representatives passed a bill to repeal the 17-year old law banning homosexuals from serving openly in the US armed forces. Three days later, the bill passed a US Senate vote with a 65-31 majority, and on December 22, President Barack Obama signed the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010 into law.
This is not the first time the US military has faced a monumental integration of a previously banned class of Americans. President Truman integrated blacks into the military with the stroke of a pen in 1948, and Congress began nominating women to US service academies in 1976. As was the case with race and gender, the further expansion of the military social aperture to accept homosexuals had the predominant impact of making the military more inclusive and giving equal social status to a previously disadvantaged class of citizens.
Yet, there are reasons for concern in the United States. First, the integration of Blacks and women into the military was not accomplished without difficulty and remains unfinished today. While the military deserves credit for today’s relatively healthy racial climate, the full integration of women remains a struggle. Second, the gap between the social and political values of the officer corps and those of the general population has widened to a disturbing extent, a fact aggravated by the belief that the military culture is not only separate but also superior. Finally, the extent to which this gap manifests itself in devoutly held religious beliefs that sometimes contradict emerging law and policy on sexual orientation presents a special problem because of faith’s claim to the whole person. This article addresses the possible impact of these three challenges on a successful transition to a military that respects openly homosexual service members.
Keywords: Homosexuality, Military, DADT, Gay, Lesbian, Culture, Martial Masculinity, Gender
JEL Classification: Z10
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation