No Opting Out of the Military for Opponents of DADT

During his farewell tour of Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Robert Gates was queried by a Marine sergeant who wanted to know whether soldiers who had enlisted in the military before the controversial “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy was repealed would be able to opt out of their enlistment.  Gates’ answer was a blunt “no.”

“You’ll have to complete your … enlistment just like everybody else,” he said.

The repeal of DADT has been forcefully opposed by the Marines, more so than other branches of the military, especially by a leader who said that the policy should not be repealed during wartime.  In a survey conducted last fall, misconceptions and hostility toward gay servicemen and women were strongest among the Marines.  This was clear in the Marine sergeant’s question.  He asked Gates:

“Sir, we joined the Marine Corps because the Marine Corps has a set of standards and values that is better than that of the civilian sector. And we have gone and changed those values and repealed the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy.  We have not given the Marines a chance to decide whether they wish to continue serving under that. Is there going to be an option for those Marines that no longer wish to serve due to the fact their moral values have not changed?”

Gates, quite reasonably, pointed out that Marines found it possible to work together, despite differences in religious and political backgrounds and beliefs.  “You still serve together,” he said. “And you work together. And you look out for each other. And that’s all that matters.”

The repeal of DADT will go into effect 60 days after servicemembers have been trained about the policy, so that the change will not affect the military’s readiness.  This will hopefully be relatively soon.  And while Gates’ response is encouraging, in that he categorically refused to take this objection into account, the question itself is troubling, because it signals potential difficulties in integrating openly gay soldiers into the military, particularly more conservative and change-averse branches like the Marines.


Photo from Wikimedia Commons.


Brenda Gilbert
Brenda Gilbert6 years ago

I send compassion to all those who find it impossible to accept that someone who is openly gay is suddenly unfit to do the job he/she has already been doing for some time. Their own pain is getting in the way of their capacity to love, accept and appreciate others and that is so sad!

Darcy H.
Darcy H6 years ago

Michael Frost, I couldn't agree more.

Tracey D.
Tracey D6 years ago

I've had several friends in the military. Despite DADT, they knew who was gay and it didn't matter to them, all that mattered is they were team members and fellow soldiers.

Teckla Wattman
Teckla Wattman6 years ago

The Few. The Proud. The Narrow minded. The Marines.
I've always had a lot of respect for the Marines up until now. Grow up!

gary f.
gary felder6 years ago

There are those that think of selves as the warrior class. what i don't get is none of us get to pick our parents or our sexuality what makes this first group think that they are so special ,with the exception of several genes we are the same.

Tom Y.
Tom Y6 years ago

Ah, Glenna! Glenna Jones-kachtik says to me, "so what you are saying is if you have served in a unit with a guy for years... you would all of a sudden decide that all the actions of many years - all the times he had saved your worthless hide - were now negated because he was gay???"

Well, Glenna, it wouldn't much matter once he/she's out of uniform. Civie life's a change in the ground game.

"You wouldn't consider him fit to be a Marine any longer because of whom he loved?"

Let's get real here: the loudest element of the gay movement is overwhelmingly narcissistic, and the only love is love of SELF!! That's what makes it sufficiently objectionable to society at large, and it's why a considerable number of gays don't support it. I would say the fitness of the individual is proved by the actions of the individual. If he proved himself a Marine, his sex life doesn't negate the fact; it just creates health problems for him.

"If this is the case - perhaps he shouldn't have saved you & maybe YOU need to do some soul searching about just what your values really ARE. Because they don't look too good to me."

Of course they don't, Glenna, and that's because you're demonstrably narrow and judgmental of the worth of others -- and how enthusiastically you attack people you oppose. Not the ideas, but people. You've appointed yourself judge over a man you never met, and he finds you haughty. Start with your own soul, Glenna. Check to see if it's still there.

Glen P.
Glen P6 years ago

Awww poor thing.

His reprehensible religious 'morals' based off the writings of ancient ignorant tribal desert barbarians is no longer going to be indulged by the U.S. Military and now he wants out.

Maybe the Marines can give him forward cleanup duty to find roadside bombs, and if he's lucky he can soon find himself at the right hand of Jesus where he won't have to be exposed to any nasty people who are JUST like him.

Of course in all likelihood he'd find himself in a MUCH hotter place than the Middle-east.

Michael Frost

If they wish to withdraw from the military because their values are now contrary to what the military allows, then let them, but let them receive a dishonorable discharge.

John D.
John D.6 years ago

I say no don't let them drop out. The best way to clear this matter up is for people to learn from one another. Let these people work along side gays.

I've known quite a few people who once it hit them I was gay were like wow.. changed my whole mind on gays. Its generally about ignorance. And the only way to combat that is through education and life experience.

Tish L.
Tish Levee6 years ago