Thursday, June 26, 2008

DADT: does it still creep into quasi-military civilian areas?


Can the military “don’t ask don’t tell” apply to "quasi-military" civilian jobs? The presence of a federal law (passed in 1993) designed for the military but partially predicated on the idea of “privacy” in situations of same-sex forced intimacy does sound like it could generate a malignant potential in civilian life.

SLDN’s Survival Guide (PDF) does give some hints on pages 14-15.

SLDN does warn that DADT applies to the reserves and could be applied to members of the individual ready reserves even for behavior in civilian settings, even if these cases are very rare. While the national guard is often federalized, state defense forces cannot.

State and municipal police departments often used to exclude gays (and “ask”, particularly about sodomy law violations), but these problems have become much less frequent since Lawrence v Texas and were coming under disrepute even in the 1990s (such as policies that used to be in place with the Dallas Police Department and Fairfax County Police Department). In some cities, police departments have LGBT liaison units.

Legally. DADT need not be applied to “uniformed services” if they are not “armed services”. So uniformed services in the NOAA and PHS (public health service) do not have to follow DADT unless their officers are deployed with military units. So far, officers in these services have been able to decline such assignments. The PHS was militarized during the Korean War but has not been since. The pressure for manpower in Iraq (if it does not abate in the current political and international situation) could eventually pose a problem, however, particularly for the PHS. There are no known cases involving these services so far.

For example, DADT does not apply to the Merchant Marine. However, graduates of the Merchant Marine academy have reserve commissions in the Navy or NOAA. If they enter the Navy, DADT applies.

The Civil Air Patrol is a civilian auxiliary of the Air Force and DADT is not supposed to apply.

DADT would not apply to junior ROTC members (as in high school) until they are actually enrolled in the military. However, ROTC scholarship students in college are considered members of the military and subject to DADT. Because many colleges and universities have gay and lesbian groups and have a social climate sympathetic to gay issues, this is a particularly egregious problem and has led some schools not to want to accept ROTC on campus, running into the Solomon amendment, discussed elsewhere on my websites. (I’ve cover that more soon.) In practice, on many campuses, gay students in ROTC may not actually run into any difficulties participating in campus organizations on their own, and would have considerable First Amendment claims. The whole legal climate around ROTC and DADT still sounds confounding and litigation-prone to me.

As discussed in other sites, the services have sought recoupments from active duty persons discharged from service academies or from the services when discharged before serving out commitments made for tuition assistance (as for medical school).

SLDN writes that there are no known examples of where DADT has applied to retirees, although there are theoretical scenarios where retirees can be recalled to active duty and prosecuted under the UCMJ. As a practical matter, the services have had no interest in trying to apply DADT in such scenarios, and would be challenged in court if they did.

DADT does not apply to civilian employees of the Defense Department. The treatment of civil service employees and of security clearances has steadily improved since the early 1970s and some additional protections regarding clearances were put into play during the Clinton administration. It is true that this has been a big problem in the past (as it was for me). There have been some concerns, already discussed earlier on this blog in relation to GLOBE, that the current Bush administration could have weakened these protections. (I discussed this on this blog on May 7.)

The FBI Academy at Quantico VA would have some close-in situations resembling the military, yet the FBI maintains that it does not discriminate based on sexual orientation. See this USAJObs listing.
This observation perhaps provides some ammunition for challenging the idea that the presence of gays by definition is invades the “privacy” of military members in other circumstances (like service academies).

There would be other situations in intelligence services (like the CIA) where quasi-military environments occur, but the CIA apparently does not have any formal policy in this area.

Participants in NASA space missions are often military officers, but some civilians (like teachers) have been selected, and there seems to be no policy regarding sexual orientation. It’s easy to imagine that a question like this would come up in the future with long manned space voyages (as in the 2001 Space Odyssey movie).

Back in the 1970s, New York City debated an ENDA-style anti-discrimination ordinance, and the New York Daily News ran doomsday scenarios of what would happen in firehouses, where firemen bunk together. Ironically, the GAA headquarters at 99 Wooster in those days was called "The Firehouse."

Civilians sometimes work in close quarters. NBC Nightly News (June 26) showed the employee bunks on oil rigs offshore in the Gulf (and these would include support personnel), and employment like this is likely to increase since the spike in oil prices probably will lead to increased drilling offshore and in remote, primitive areas like the arctic. The movie “Armageddon” also showed these living circumstances.

Civilians also might work in difficult situations overseas, such as contractors in Islamic countries. The media have not reported any problems with sexual orientation. In fact, gay reporters are known to have traveled with military units without incident. However, it would sound that in countries with intrusive local religious authorities (Saudi Arabia) there could be risks for openly gay contractors.

When I was substitute teaching, I found myself in situations where I might have suddenly been asked to provide custodial care to disabled persons not capable of consent. I was not comfortable with the idea of doing that when I knew there was a federal law on the books that was predicated on the problems of “forced intimacy,” and wrote such on an older website. This comment was found and contributed to my eventually leaving. However, with certain kinds of students I also found it problematical to perform as a “male role model” when the federal government says as a matter of law that someone “like me” may not share the responsibility of defending the country. Becoming a teacher with a “career switch” also means investing in tuition and time, and investment I did not want to make in the current political climate. The military DADT policy is based on old chestnuts from the past (Dick Cheney even called the military ban such) that still provide many practical difficulties today. Perhaps, call it the law of “unintended consequences.”

Update: August 18, 2008

Britain's top spy agency M15 is supposedly trying to recruit gays. I can imagine why (that's a pretext of my own "unpublished" novel). The AP story today is by Jennifer Quinn and appears here.

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