Homosexuals in the U.S. Military: Open Integration and Combat Effectiveness
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Homosexualsi nthe ~ Elizabeth Kier us.Military~ I Open Integration and Combat 1 Effectiveness I iDuring the 1992presidential campaign, Bill Clinton pledged to lift the ban on homosexuals in the U.S. armed services.Once in office, he met with enormous resistance from the U.S. military and its congressional allies, and by the summer of 1993, the original policy proposal was dead. Instead, Congress enacted the ”Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Pursue” policy: gays and lesbians can now serve in the military, but they must keep their sexual orientation private. Opponents of the open integration of gays and lesbians have discarded many of the standard justifications for excluding homosexuals from military service. For example, the Pentagon and its allies no longer argue that gays and lesbians are security risks because of the threat of blackmail.As early as 1957,a study commissioned by the U.S. Navy was unable to uncover any evidence that homosexuals were security risks.’ Thirty years later, another Department of Defense (DoD)-commissioned report repeated tlus finding: “Since [1957]no new data have been presented that would refute [the] conclusion that homosexuals are not greater security risks than heterosexuals.”2Nor do opponents of allowing homosexuElizabeth Kier is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of California at Berkeley and an SSRC/MacArthur Postdoctoral Fellow for Peace and Security in a Changing World. I thank Karen Adams, Ade Adebajo, Chris Ansell, Aaron Belkin, Nora Bensahel, Mary Callahan, RenCe de Nevers, Michael Desch, Lynn Eden, Page Fortna, Marc Lynch, Allison MacFarlane,Susan Peterson, Steve Weber, an anonymous reviewer, and especially Chris Bourg and Jonathan Mercer for their helpful comments. I would also like to thank participants at seminars at Columbia University, the Ohio State University, the University of Minnesota, the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairsat Harvard University,and the Center for International Security and Arms Control at Stanford University for their criticism and suggestions, and Anna Bolin and Robin Brooks for their excellent research assistance. I gratefully acknowledge support from the Center for International Security and Arms Control, Stanford University, and the SSRC/MacArthur Fellowships for Peace and Security in a Changing World. 1. The Crittenden report, officially entitled Report of the Board Appointed to Prepare and Submit Recommendations to the Secretary of the Navy for the Revision of Policies, Procedures, and Directiues Dealing with Homosexuals, is discussed in General Accounting Office (GAO), DOD’s Policy on Homosexuality: Report to Congressional Requester on Defense Force Management (Washington, D.C.: GAO, B-247235, June 1992), p. 30. 2. Theodore R. Sarbin and Kenneth E. Karols, Nonconforming Sexual Orientation in the Military and Society (Washington, D.C.: Defense Personnel Security Research and Education Center, PERSTR89 -002, December 1988), p. 29 (known as the “PERSEREC report”). International Security,Vol. 23, No. 2 (Fall 1998),pp. 5-39 0 1998by the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 5 International Security 23:2 I 6 als to serve openly argue that gays and lesbians are poor soldiers. For example, although both the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Colin Powell and the renowned military sociologistCharles Moskos oppose the open integration of homosexuals in the military, they acknowledge that gays and lesbians are effective soldier^.^ Discharge proceedings against homosexuals are filled with testimony of many of these individuals’ outstanding records, dependability , and dedication to their jobs.4 The issue is not whether gays and lesbians are good soldiers as individuazs, but instead, the effect of these individuals on the group. Opponents of lifting all restrictions on homosexual service argue that the open integration of gays and lesbians would block the development of primary group cohesion, which they say is critical to military effectivenes~.~ During the 1993 congressional hearings on homosexuality in the military, both Senate and House testimony focused on the issue of unit cohesion. In July 1993, for example, then Senator Sam Nunn (D-Ga.),chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, asked each of the six joint chiefs of staff to discuss unit cohesion and its significance in developing combat capability.6 Army Chief of Staff General Gordon R. Sullivan responded that ”cohesion is enhanced by uniformity...


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