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Argument: Military gay ban is analogous to ban on blacks and women

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Anna Quindlen. "The End Of An Error". Newsweek. April 4, 2009 - The rationale behind keeping gays out of the military has always been a moving target, since there is not a scintilla of data or evidence to support it. First there were claims of security risks, then the spread of disease. Eventually there was something called unit cohesion, an argument that soldiers did not want to serve with gay service members and therefore would not perform properly if forced to do so.

There is an equivalent to all this in our recent past, in the argument against letting black soldiers serve alongside whites. In 1942 a vice admiral insisted that "the minute the negro is introduced in to the general service," the quality of soldiers would plummet. Esprit de corps, even disease—the same arguments that were used against black Americans, arguments that seem shameful today, have been used against gay ones. (In a breathtaking factoid, Frank's meticulously reported book notes that during World War II the Red Cross was ordered to maintain racially separate blood banks.) In both cases, opponents bolstered their arguments with polls showing resistance in the ranks, as if service members were required to do only that which they approved. So much for the much-vaunted chain of command.


Om Prakash. "The Efficacy of Don't Ask Don't Tell." Winning essay of the 2009 Secretary of Defense National Security Essay Competition: "In the case of integration of the sexes, the U.S. military found lack of sexual privacy, as well as sex between males and females, undermined order, discipline, and morale.40 These concerns were solved by segregated living quarters. Here the issue becomes complicated. Those opposed to lifting the ban point out that the living conditions of the military would at times make it impossible to guarantee privacy throughout the spectrum of sexual orientation. But would such measures actually be necessary? Considering that estimates put 65,000 as the number of homosexuals serving in the military,41 would revealing their identities lead to a collapse of morale and discipline? Many top military officials do not believe it would. For example, Representative Joe Sestak (D–PA), a retired Navy vice admiral, currently supports lifting the ban. He stated that he was convinced by witnessing firsthand the integration of women on board ships as he commanded an aircraft carrier group. There were similar concerns about privacy and unit cohesion that proved unwarranted.42 Paul Rieckhoff, executive director of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and former Army platoon leader, illustrates an additional point: “Just like in the general population, there is a generational shift within the military. The average 18-yearold has been around gay people, has seen gay people in popular culture, and they’re not this boogeyman in the same way they were to Pete Pace’s generation.”43

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