Do draft, do tell: sociologist Charles Moskos, architect of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” says the policy should be abandoned if the draft is reinstated – Behind the Headlines
As the United States and Iraq inch ever closer to a second Gulf War, members of Congress have raised the possibility of reinstating a military draft. Sociologist Charles Moskos, the prime architect of the Clinton administration’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy concerning gays in the military, grabbed headlines with his December 31 remarks to scholars at the Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military, a research organization at the University of California, Santa Barbara, that “don’t ask, don’t tell” should be suspended if the draft is reinstated. In an Internet interview from the Netherlands, where he was vacationing, Moskos explained his reasoning to The Advocate.
Why do you think openly gay people should be included in the draft if it’s reinstated?
If “don’t ask, don’t tell” remains in effect during conscription, then an easy way to avoid the draft would be to say one is gay.
What would you say to gay activists who argue that the policy is job discrimination?
The military is more than a job–it’s a way of living together.
How is that way of living together any different whether gays get in the military through a draft or through joining voluntarily?
There has always been a distinction between “known” gays and “open” gays in the armed forces. The great majority would be [“known” gays]. “Open” gays would be least likely to be found in combat arms, as has been the case in militaries that officially allow gays to serve, such as in Israel, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands. Even in my era, in the late ’50s, the medics were known as “peter readers,” and it was a place where gay soldiers were not harassed.
There’s been some talk about temporarily suspending the policy if there is a war with Iraq. How do you feel about that?
The military states that there was a “stop-loss” for gays during the [first] Gulf War and the war in Afghanistan–at least that’s the party line. But if there was such a suspension of the policy, that would just support my position that it has to be suspended in the case of a draft. Otherwise only admitted straights would be allowed into the military.
Why do you think it is OK to suspend the policy for the draft or during time of war and not in time of peace? Why not just lift the policy–period?
The issue is not war or peace; it is draft or no draft. Equality before the law has to supersede the virtue of personal privacy.
But it’s not really equality before the law you’re talking about–isn’t it just how badly we need the bodies to fight?
The major problem [with gays in the military] is heteros feeling their privacy rights would be violated. Then subsequent abuse of gays. Look, sexual orientation is sexual orientation. That’s why we separate men and women in toilets, bathing, and sleeping facilities in public places. How the issue is framed is key. Should gays have the same rights? Most people say yes. Should straights be forced to live with gays in close quarters? Most people say no.
So your call for lifting the ban if the draft is brought back is not in any way a repudiation of the policy?
Nope, because the context is entirely different. But homosexuals should have bumper stickers saying GAYS SUPPORT THE DRAFT.
Gay activists point to the armed forces in Israel and the Netherlands as examples where openly gay people serve without humor difficulties. Can’t those countries serve as models for the United States in lifting “don’t ask, don’t tell’?
Ask yourself, “Where is life better for gays: Israel or the USA?” I came up with the concept [of “don’t ask, don’t tell”] to help get Clinton off the hot seat in the first months of his administration. And it worked. Shouldn’t gay advocacy groups give me some kind of medal?
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