DADT Repeal: We’re Still Unsure What the F*ck is Happening


I bet the people in charge of the DADT “review process” thought they would be able to avoid negative media attention just because they gave us virtually no information about their plans and developments on the repeal, huh? Unfortunately they did not realize how obsessive and prone to speculation gay people on the internet really are! While we have no real developments to report after our badass breakdown of the DADT survey being given to soldiers, we do have several ideas about what the future may or may not hold.

First of all, the New York Times has a theory about the future of conscientious objectors – while they’ve traditionally been peacenik pinko commies and Quakers (holler!) who are excluded from military service because of religious or ethical objection to war, it’s possible the “new conscientious objector” could be a religious conservative who objects to homosexuality. They interviewed J.E. McNeil, a Quaker lawyer specializing in the legal negotiations surrounding conscientious objection, and she says she’s already been contacted by people who say their religion prohibits them from, you know, knowing that homosexuality exists. “This is just the beginning,” Ms. McNeil said. “When the other shoe drops and the policy actually ends, I think we’re going to get a lot of these.” (@nytimes)

The most obvious response to this is one that McNeil raises herself in the article – all soldiers in the military are already serving with homosexuals, they’re just protected from knowing it by their homophobic administration. Logically, if a religious objection to homosexuality prohibits you from serving in the military, it should also prohibit you from going grocery shopping, taking public transportation, attending higher education, or coming to Christmas at my house. Furthermore, this disturbing but hilarious comic-book-style military handbook from 1993 makes it pretty clear that soldiers were already aware that there was a lavender menace in their midst, even if they did have to draw a lot of picture about their feelings in order to process it. But proponents of the “new conscientious objection” don’t seem to see any disconnect there, which leads us to wonder what their strong and committed faith really does forbid – having to treat someone like a human being even after knowing for sure that they’re gay? Laying awake at night wondering if the cute private in the same tent thinks they’re dreamy too now that they know they like girls/boys? Are they afraid that now all the homos are out and proud that they’ll demand to watch Ru Paul’s Drag Race during TV time? At this point, it’s pretty unclear. (@sociologicalimages)

Maybe this will be nothing; maybe the “new conscientious objectors” are like Bumpits, good for a chuckle when you see them on late night TV but ultimately not a game-changer. If they do turn out to be A Thing, though, I’m honestly unsure of how to feel. On the one hand, it would be insulting to have the government seriously classify us as a legitimate religious abomination, and it would set a disturbing precedent – what if doctors could object to treating gay patients, etc. But on the other hand, would the actual outcome of this be so bad? Consider the situation now: there are gay people (hey Lt. Dan Choi!) who really want to be in the military but aren’t allowed to, and there are bigoted people who are supplied with guns by the military. If DADT was repealed and then homophobes were allowed to file as conscientious objectors, then people who really want to be in the military would be admitted, and people who didn’t want to be in the military would be allowed to leave it. Who is losing, exactly, in that scenario? Besides the military-industrial complex or something?

Of course, like anything having to do with military and/or religion, this is up for heated debate. And of course, like everything else related to DADT, (for instance, the speculation that Senator Robert Byrd’s death may have lost us a critical voice for repeal) we have little to no verifiable information on this, so it may or may not even be a real thing. Which means that your thoughts and feelings on this issue are at least as valid as any of the actual reporting on it, so feel free to share! (@ontopmag)

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Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy." You can follow her on twitter and instagram.

Rachel has written 1142 articles for us.


  1. this military shit has me so confused, so i think i’ll just re-watch season 5 of the l word. thats the same thing, right?

  2. I read that entire DADT handbook this morning and it made me angry. And the style (50’s comic strip) just illustrated how backwards the policy is!

  3. I can’t get that old English Beat song out of my head:

    “Two dozen other stupid reasons
    Why we should suffer for this
    Don’t bother trying to explain them
    Just hold my hand while I come
    To a decision on it”

  4. “what if doctors could object to treating gay patients, etc.”

    As far as I can tell, they can. The same clauses that give physicians the ability to refuse to give birth control(for example) on religious grounds could be used to refuse treatment to gay patients. But I’m not sure that would fly in states where there are LGBT-inclusive anti-discrimination laws.

    Also, all those who want the Autostraddle twitter feed back, say aye!

  5. It’s against your religion to serve with gays? Hmm, ok – I don’t buy it but so what even if it does? Like with any job, if you don’t like your coworkers/work environment, you can always quit. No one is forcing you to stay. The U.S. government doesn’t owe you anything. But in the end, that’s what this is really about isn’t it? You think they DO owe you. You want to expand the definition of conscientious object beyond conscription so you won’t lose your benefits when you go AWOL. I’m sorry, but as an American taxpayer, I’m not going to subsidize your post-military life because of your inability, or rather refusal, to fulfill a contractual obligation to this country (fully voluntary, mind you) based on some obscure immorality boycott you’ve concocted to serve your self interests. Give me a break.

    Alright, I’m off my soapbox and in reality, I don’t think such a scenario will come to pass. Money is presently more important than any culture war the military would want to wage in this regard. That said, I think the idea of allowing bigots to keep their military benefits is a sad irony.

  6. It is currently legal for doctors in many places to refuse to treat transsexual people for anything (Including anything not related to a physical transition) just because they are trans, and that is not a far stretch from allowing the medical community to stop serving the queer community thanks to their religious beliefs.

  7. the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy directly implies that there are gays in the military, but it can’t be acknowledged openly.

    based on that fact, a straight person who believes gays should be able to serve openly has just as much right to “conscientiously object” based on their beliefs as a person who is afraid of gays who serve openly would have to object based on theirs.

    basically, this is a Bumpit.

  8. Part of implementing a policy that allows gays to serve openly will include training. It took several years to integrate the military once Truman ordered that it be desegregated. And they only recently started allowing women on subs.

    When they enacted DADT, gays were framed as the victims. They justified DADT by saying they had no way to stop openly gay soldiers from getting beat to death. It was for their safety that they stay in the closet. I remember in the congressional testimony they had used reports of gay soldiers getting killed in what they called “blanket parties.” I was 16 at the time, and that just stuck with me. A gay soldier got beat so badly he was unrecognizable and the government said they couldn’t prevent it if gays came out.

    So, now it’s just gross that the argument is that they need to protect religious soldiers’ beliefs.

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