Study condemns "don't ask, don't tell"
BY Advocate.com Editors
June 07 2003 12:00 AM ET
An article published in the summer issue of Parameters, a publication of the U.S. Army, concludes that the military's gay ban is "based on prejudice, not on military necessity." The article, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell: Is the Gay Ban Based on Military Necessity?" examines the experiences of foreign military allies who have lifted their ban on gay service members. It finds no detrimental impact on unit cohesion, morale, retention, or recruiting. In interviews with numerous military officers and scholars from the United Kingdom, Israel, Canada, and Australia, the study's author, Aaron Belkin of the University of California, Santa Barbara, found that lifting the gay ban was a "nonevent" for U.S. allies.
A group of retired military flag officers, all honorary board members of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, an advocacy group that provides legal assistance to gay and lesbian military personnel, endorsed the article's findings. "Originally the gay ban was justified by the unit cohesion rationale, the notion that lifting the gay ban would undermine military effectiveness," the officers said in a joint statement. "Over the past 10 years, however, a growing body of evidence has come to cast doubt on this idea." The group includes MG Vance Coleman, USA (Ret.), BG Evelyn "Pat" Foote, USA (Ret.), BG Keith Kerr, CSMR (Ret.), BG Virgil A. Richard, USA (Ret.) and RADM Alan M. Steinman, MD, MPH, USCG (Ret.).
Belkin applauded the Army for its willingness to publicize the article's findings. "For the first time, the Army has published academic evidence showing that gays do not undermine the military," Belkin said. "Clearly the lessons of our allies are not lost on our own armed forces."