Some Marines Want Option to Escape Military Before the Gay Invasion, Won’t Get It

Obama’s decision to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell feels like it was forever ago, but it’s still not over, or something. House members already created legislation to undermine the repeal, and now service members are requesting the right to opt out of their enlistment if the repeal goes into effect. Because I mean, what is the military going to be like with all of these gay people in it? You know, all the ones who are already there and just aren’t allowed to be honest about it?

Even though countless gay people serve in the armed forces right now, despite their forced closeted status, the idea that they may be able to be, you know, out apparently still terrifies some Marines. At a question-and-answer session with Marines at an Afghanistan base, Robert Gates, Defense Secretary, was approached with this question:

“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 And we have gone and changed those values and repealed the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy.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?”

Some would perhaps point out that this is not actually so far off from what the army has really done – for instance, the ten-month review and research survey that the Pentagon insisted on performing, evaluating servicemembers’ and even servicemembers’ families’ feelings on a potential repeal. But Gates wisely avoided even bringing this up – because it shouldn’t have been an issue. A repeal of DADT is an ethical issue, and an issue of whether LGBT soldiers will continue to be treated as second-class citizens or not. Realistically, almost nothing else in the military is ever determined by a popular vote; why should this be?

Even though the president, Gates, and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have yet to certify DADT’s repeal, Gates’ answer was short: “no.”  He went on to remind the Marines that liking your colleague’s life choices has never mattered, and that being in the armed forces is about more than your own homophobic tendencies:

“The reality is that you don’t all agree with each other on your politics, you don’t agree with each other on your religion, you don’t agree with each other on a lot of things,” Gates said. “But you still serve together. And you work together. And you look out for each other. And that’s all that matters.”

Moral of the story: the idea that someone can opt out of their military enlistment just because someone else, in a sector potentially far, far, away, is maybe out of the closet is, of course, a ludicrous one. But then again, so is this whole DADT debacle, most of the time.

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Carmen spent six years at Autostraddle, ultimately serving as Straddleverse Director, Feminism Editor and Social Media Co-Director. She is now the Consulting Digital Editor at Ms. and writes regularly for DAME, the Women’s Media Center, the National Women’s History Museum and other prominent feminist platforms; her work has also been published in print and online by outlets like BuzzFeed, Bitch, Bust, CityLab, ElixHER, Feministing, Feminist Formations, GirlBoss, GrokNation, MEL, Mic and SIGNS, and she is a co-founder of Argot Magazine. You can find Carmen on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr or in the drive-thru line at the nearest In-N-Out.

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  1. Does there exists anything weaker or more effeminate than the heterosexual male’s ego?

    • I think saying “effeminate” like it’s a bad thing is pretty weak, myself, but ymmv.

      • I agree. And let’s not blame straight men just for this, there are homophobes among women too and they are probably are included among the people so homophobic they’re regretting their enlistment. And other straight men often turn out to be great allies (one of my best friends is a straight dude and he is the most supportive of anyone I know).

  2. Are there really people out there who are willing to risk life and limb for their country in foreign combat zones… but not to work with queers??

    I just do NOT understand.

    • But risking your life is manly and cool! Serving with the gays is not.

      (I’d also put forth an argument that, if you’re poor enough, even the military starts to look good, given that you’re paid and insured. But if you’re that poor, you’re not going to be backing out because of gay people, so it’s a moot point.)

    • Military enlistment isn’t a true “choice” for some people. The US military has a way of targeting poor teenagers, specifically putting on big shows for poor inner-city and rural high schools, with money for college if they enlist in ROTC. It’s often the only way some people have a chance at higher education. This is why it’s often referred to as an “economic draft.” (Yes, I find the whole system pretty despicable.)

      So I don’t know that you can say that these people would be truly interested and excited about the prospect of risking their lives and/or killing other people. Some feel they don’t have a choice.

      Not that that excuses the homophobia, of course.

      • I take that point, and the military in my country doesn’t work like that, so it’s not at the forefront of my mind when I read stories about the US armed forces. I wasn’t meaning to imply that they were ‘truly interested and excited’ about serving though… just that I don’t understand why someone would deem a high risk of death and injury an acceptable condition of employment, but not be able to stand working with the gays.

        Sinthe above says it – “if you’re that poor, you’re not going to be backing out because of gay people”.

  3. They follow orders. tough uknowhat. And who are the chickenss here- how do we trust marines to face bullets and bombs, when they are afraid that some gay guy might be looking at them. Not that anythings changed.

    its all rotten church induced phobias. Irrational fear of gay people, and perhaps these marines afraid they might get an erection being next to a gay guy in the showers. Which really has nothing to do with the bigots sexuality -its actually a result of an anxiety attack. Where fears physically affect ones bodily funcions.

    Marines – a few good men, and also some babies, more often then not the most macho ones.

    it would be so funny if it wasn’t so sad.

    • Umm…really? *That* is why men are homophobic? Well, that solves that problem! Since women can’t get boners, LESBIANS AWAAAAAAYYYY!!!

      Yeah fucking right.

      • In all honesty I trust a platoon of lesbians with my life/something important/a secret mission/seasons 1-6 L Word DVDs a lot more than a platoon of straight guys.

  4. Just a random line of thinking, but I’m curious if for some of these Marines it’s not so much an unwillingness to serve with gay soldiers but more a convenient excuse to get out of the military? I hate to doubt a soldier’s commitment to his country but I could see some enlisting then getting a touch of buyer’s remorse. Or, they could all just really be incredible homophobes and I’m off base here.

  5. one thing that always pissed me off when I was in:

    I used my time to learn about other religions. There were a lot of services available each week, and I thought it was interesting to learn about other cultures and religions. And you are free to worship whatever you please. We had a jedi in my company, which I had no idea was a real religion (it is). And no one was allowed to talk shit about any religion, zero tolerance. But orientation was a completely different matter. Now, I know that a lot of people don’t think like this, but to my understanding, you can choose your religion. you cant choose who you like. but the military allows people to say “gay” and “fag” and all that crass nonsense. but the second someone says wiccan in scary, you face an article 15. not that I’m condoning making fun of religion or anything. I just think that those standards should be universal, for all issues.

    • I used to have a theory that we should create the “church of gay” and say being with the same sex was a commandment or something. just to see if we could get equal protection under the Freedom of religion ammendment.
      not to mention tax-exempt status.

  6. Somehow I knew the comments on this topic would get me upset and sure enough they have. Mostly because people are soooooo quick to jump on the bash the Marines bandwagon. I’ll start by saying the Marine Corps was the first branch of service to implement changes to the DADT repeal. Anytime you change policy, there is a huge backlash, not just with the military, but in general. Not everyone is going to agree, but all these stories keep coming up about Marines, because the Marines are the only ones who are publicly saying, we are committed to accepting the changes to policy. As far as recruiting is concerned, you can no longer ask what a person’s sexual orientation is. That used to be a question and you would have to sign a document saying that homosexual conduct would not be tolerated and blah, blah, blah. That is gone, at least for the Marines. Also, you can’t walk around saying “fag” or “gay” or anything like that anymore because you will get in trouble and not like a slap on the wrist.

    The military in general, is made up of a lot of individuals who are from small towns. It’s not that they are dumb and poor, it’s just that they truly believe everything they see on the tv. I have met several people that never actual saw or talked to a black person before they joined. Not that they didn’t like them, they were just never exposed to them. So yeah sometimes they have dumb racial comments, but you have to let them know that it’s not ok to make racial comments. The same is the case with this.

    The people that are saying that they have a problem, is more likely than none based off religion, which as you may or may not know, it’s pretty damn hard to talk sense into a hardcore religious fanatic. And some of them may not be fanatics, but that’s how they were raised. It’s just something that’s going to have to take time and I get it, it’s a dumb reason to want to get out of your enlistment, but again, there are people (not just in the Marines) who don’t want to share a room with someone based off their skin color. So it’s 2011 and there are still racist people around. So in 2060, there are still going to be homophobes. What matters is that people will wise up and stop being ignorant.

    Please stop saying how the military targets poor kids and what have you because that is not the case. Stop watching movies and actually talk to someone in the service. You’ll see that this issue, while a big issue, is not the only “dumb” issue we deal with.

    • This is just incredibly well said. I assume you’re a Marine? Or at least some branch of military? I find a little irony in the fact that you’re helping/attempting to change the way others view a particular group when the argument against DADT stems from how others view a particular group. Thanks for this.

  7. Yes I am. It’s just a weird situation and it seems like people are expecting an overnight change. It will never happen that way, but some day (hopefully sooner than later) things will be better.

    • I figured out after the fact that we’ve met and actually know each other. Through a mutual friend. Funny. Anyway, keep doing what you’re doing.

  8. I want to say the guy talked about 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. But a Marine’s Values also talk about how they will NOT Quite and lets be real that is what he is asking a way to just quite that is a shame there his Values went out the window

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