Thursday, November 05, 2009
The US Army does have a document stating the official version of "don't ask don't tell" for recruiters
In researching a story related to the general lowering of fitness of recruits into the US military, I tracked down the US Army’s own statements about its requirements for eligibility to enlist, and I did find this link. This leads to a dynamic PDF file load whose URL cannot be saved, but the file can be converted to text and saved on one’s home or office computer.
Section 8 (that sounds like a pun, doesn’t it) in this PDF file (or as converted to text) does discuss the issue of homosexuals in the military. The wording of the policy is clever and bears repeating here in a long quote. (Yup, it’s in the public domain, so it’s not copyright infringement to reproduce it.) Notice that the policy (written in early 1994, after Congress codified “don’t ask don’t tell” into law in late November 1993 as part of a Defense Authorization bill; much of the language comes directly from the statute) tries to have it both ways. Sexual orientation as an abstract matter has no effect on service entry or retention, but the occurrence of “homosexual conduct” does normally lead to denial of entry or to discharge, even if the conduct occurs “off duty” with consenting adult civilians. (A soldier is “on duty” at “all times and all places”, even according to President Clinton (1993 speech), despite Barney Frank’s suggestion to the contrary.) Notice that the wording here makes a lot of the word “propensity” which it says is more than an abstract interest, it is a credible likelihood that acts will occur. The best comparison to “propensity” would be an insurance concept called “anti-selection”. Certain behaviors or statements, to an insurance company, lead to the concern that an unfavorable event is really likely to occur. “Volunteering” one’s orientation in a military setting is normally regarded by the military as such a statement. Unfortunately, some commanders have interpreted this concept as an excuse to go out on witch-hunts, which the policy, as written, seems to discourage.
The other curious feature of the policy is the mention of gay marriage, all the way back in 1993, before it was legal anywhere (it was started to get litigated in Hawaii then, and later Vermont would have a civil union law).
Still one other curious sequence of words , near the end, where a statement will not result in discharge if it is made for the “purpose of avoiding military service.” That could refer to an attempt to get out of an enlistment contract, but it also could anticipate a political environment where the draft (conscription) has been reinstated by Congress—the environment in which my own service took place in the late 1960s. There is also a “queen for a day” rule, where discharge does not occur if the conduct is not part of a person’s usual deportment.
It's useful to review the Army's own words and keep them as a reference. Here follows the quotation of the policy as in the Army PDF:
"8. Provision Related to Homosexual Conduct :
a. Sexual orientation is considered a personal and private matter, and homosexual orientation is not a bar to service entry or continued service unless manifested by homosexual conduct. Applicants for enlistment, appointment, or induction shall not be asked or required to reveal their sexual orientation. Applicants also will not be asked or required to reveal whether they have engaged in homosexual conduct, unless independent evidence is received indicating that an applicant engaged in such conduct or unless the applicant volunteers a statement that he or she is a homosexual or bisexual, or words to that effect. Applicants will be informed of separation policy. (Section 654 of reference (a)).
b. Homosexual conduct may be grounds for barring entry into the Armed Forces. Homosexual conduct is a homosexual act, a statement by the applicant that demonstrates a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts, or a homosexual marriage or attempted marriage. Propensity to engage in acts means more than an abstract preference or desire to engage in homosexual acts; it indicates a likelihood that a Person engages in or will engage in homosexual acts.
(1) An applicant shall be rejected for entry into the Armed Forces if, in the course of the accession process, evidence is received demonstrating that the applicant engaged in, attempted to engage in, or solicited another to engage in a homosexual act or acts, unless there is a further determination that:
(a) Such acts are a departure from the applicant's usual and customary behavior;
(b) Such acts, under all the circumstances, are unlikely to recur;
(c) Such acts were not accomplished by use of force, coercion, or intimidation, and;
(d) The applicant does not have a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts.
Such a determination will be made in the course of the normal accession process. A homosexual act means (i) any bodily contact, actively undertaken or passively permitted, between members of the same sex for the purpose of satisfying sexual desires, and (ii) any bodily contact that a reasonable person would understand to demonstrate a propensity or intent to engage in an act described in subparagraph (i).
(2) An applicant shall be rejected for entry if he or she makes a statement that he or she is a homosexual or bisexual, or words effect, unless there is a further determination that the applicant has demonstrated that he or she is not a person who engages in, attempts to engage in, has a propensity to engage in, or intends to engage in homosexual acts. Such a determination will be made in the course of the normal accession process.
(3) An applicant shall be rejected for entry if, in the course of the accession process, evidence is received demonstrating that an applicant has married or attempted to marry a person known to be of the same biological sex (as evidenced by the external anatomy of the persons involved).
c. Nothing in thes
e procedures requires rejection for entry into the Armed Forces when the relevant Military Service Command authority determines:
(1) That an applicant or inductee made a statement, engaged in acts, or married or attempted to marry a person of the same sex for the purpose of avoiding military service, and
(2) Rejection of the applicant or inductee would not be in the best interest of the Armed Forces."