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Revisiting DADT

March 12, 2011 | Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin Grimes

Back in November, Don't Ask Don't Tell was all over the news; it was even beginning to develop a presence here on – I mentioned it, and LTC Andre Dean posted a few times about (more about that later); since then, Cadet Ulrich and LT Harper have both mentioned it; 1SG Hynes and SSG Chase have both shared great, personal stories; and resident super-star, LT Kayley Nammari talked about the personal blowback she's gotten (even though she hasn't actually written directly about it). As the Army prepared for the President's (inevitable, in my opinion) repeal of that policy, I thought we'd have a broad discussion about the issue and the way ahead for the Army. And quite frankly, I'd hoped that having that broad, open discussion would convince folks that this change was long overdue.

Pretending that gay and lesbian Soldiers haven't been honorably serving in uniform for years is like living with blinders on, seeing only what you want to see. The fact is, our service is made up of gay, straight, lesbian, religious, atheist, White, Black, Native American, rich, poor, …. etc. Pick a label – somebody like that is wearing a uniform just like mine. That is one of the great things about our service – about our Nation! – and it's something that I get to see everyday in the cross-section of clients I serve; it's part of the reason I love my job.

I mentioned LTC Dean earlier and wanted to touch on something that other folks noticed as well. His handful of posts about DADT have been removed! He first suggested an open airing of opinions here on at the beginning of December. Congress was debating; talking heads were yacking; and it wouldn't be long before the President had a repeal bill to sign (signed on 22 DEC). But by the end of the month, his series of posts had been removed.

I met LTC Dean at BlogWorld back in October and I like the guy. He's smart, sincere, genuinely interested in people, and loves the Army and the idea behind ArmyStrongstories. That's why I was really looking forward to debating him a little bit on DADT. Clearly, I think he's wrong, but at the end of the day, I agreed that having an articulate airing of competing beliefs would be useful in making sure everyone understands the competing positions. Based on survey data, it seems LTC Dean holds a minority position in the Army, but his is a significant minority and I think we need to understand his concerns to make sure the transition out of the era of DADT goes smoothly.

To that end, the Army has begun to train everyone about what repeal of the policy means for our future. As I go through that training, I intend to share some of the highlights. I hope you'll find it interesting. The fact that the Army is moving forward is a great thing; how we do it, though, is the real test of the service.


  • david r. renfroe
    3/16/2011 6:17 PM
    I personally feel that DADT will cause more alienation of the homosexual community. I am a healthcare worker working primarily with HIV+ patients and have seen this all to often in the past. Don't get me wrong I am not homophobic (homosexual relatives) I just personelly don't want to know what you weather gay or straight do behind closed doors. Keep in mind this is all just one mans opinion.
    • Benjamin Grimes
      3/17/2011 7:58 AM

      Your belief that repealing DADT will result in GREATER alienation of the homosexual community is very interesting and something I haven't really heard expressed before. I'm curious how you see that playing out? As it stands, gay and lesbian Soldiers are forced to hide an essential part of themselves; repeal of DADT would (as far as I can tell) just mean that there's no professional danger to them for revealing themselves. There will be no *requirement* to disclose sexual orientation.
  • david r. renfroe
    3/17/2011 10:24 AM
    Maybe my point of view is coming more from the healthcare side of things and again maybe the alienation I see is more so due to the HIV status. I personally have no problem serving along side someone of homosexual origin. I do however have problems with anyone weather for homosexuality or any other "difference" being alienated. But since when does ones sexual orientation an essential part of themselves. I myself am straight but that does not make me "who I am" nor is it an essential part of who I am. Being a Solider and doing the best I can in both my personal and professional life makes me who I am. Again all of this is just again one mans opinion. I do appreciate your view
  • Frank
    3/18/2011 7:29 PM
    to David...thank you for your respectful discussion on this. I'm curious, though, that you don't consider your sexuality a part of who you are. It doesn't affect your ability to shoot a weapon, but it does affect who you date, fall in love with, who you marry, whether you qualify for dependents housing allowance, who you hang out with, and what you share about yourself with other people. It affects your finances, your children, and what happens to your property when you die. Even something as simple as putting up a picture of your loved ones on your desk, or the smalltalk with co-workers, or deciding who to bring to a Christmas may take these for granted, but your sexual orientation is definitely a big part of who you are.
  • david r. renfroe
    3/21/2011 10:37 AM
    to frank, I realize that sexuality does play an important role in ones life and is a large part of who one is and will become. However I personally (just opinion) don't feel that it is the deciding factor of "who I am". But I can see and respect your point of view. i just don't want this repeal to be bad for the homosexual community they have "suffered" enough already. However maybe I am wrong and this will be great fro all concerned.
  • Terry Hynes
    5/2/2011 9:15 PM
    I'm glad you made made mention of the posts that were removed a few months ago. A few months ago, those of us who blog here were, in my opinion, duped into the DADT trap. It was clear that the site administrators and it's military oversight wanted us to engage on this topic, so that we did. I thank you for the mention in your post above!
    Clearly the powers that be must have known that a topic like this would evoke emotion on both sides - And it did! I was involved in many of the threads that were removed. Like several others who participated, we had a grown up discussion, which was naturally heated at times, but with respect.
    I took offence to the removal of those posts (though I was the author of none) and stopped using the site completely until this day.
    I enjoyed the honesty of the discussions I had here on many topics. The feedback I received was incredible! One of my blogs was even published in the NCO Journal (APR 2011 pg 42-43).
    I just find it incomprehensible that we would be asked to discuss something like DADT and then chided for doing so. I'm glad that you and others have Soldiered on though! Thank you for the frank discussion on this and all topics, as well as, your respectful debate when the need arises. On the DADT topic, I agree with you and its okay if others don't, as long as they are getting in step with the new directive!

    1SG Hynes
    • Benjamin Grimes
      5/3/2011 11:00 AM
      1SG, Thanks for the note - and I'm glad your back! As for DADT, you're absolutely right that the bottom line is that everyone get on board. There will be folks who are going to have some heartburn with repeal of the policy and it will be important for leaders to be able to understand where they're coming from and educate them about what repeal means (and doesn't mean!) for the way we do business.

      Looking forward to reading more from you!

      MAJ G

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