Adam Polaski

After DADT, Military Recruiters Target Gays & Lesbians

Filed By Adam Polaski | September 24, 2011 6:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics, The Movement
Tags: Don't Ask Don't Tell repeal, Harvard University, military, US Army, US Marines, US Navy

RecruitmentPoster.jpg"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was only repealed four days ago, but already the United States military has amplified its efforts to focus on recruiting gays and lesbians to serve in the armed forces.

From gay community centers to college campuses, military recruiters are taking advantage of the end to the ban on openly gay men and women serving in the military by spreading the word about how they can serve.

On Tuesday, the first day of the post-DADT military, several members of the U.S. Marine Corps were invited to set up a table at the Dennis R. Neill Equality Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. During the day, several Marines recruiters set up shop and spoke with people who dropped into the center about serving in the military.

The New York Times reported:

The Marines were the service most opposed to ending the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, but they were the only one of five invited branches of the military to turn up with their recruiting table and chin-up bar at the center Tuesday morning. Although Marines pride themselves on being the most testosterone-fueled of the services, they also ferociously promote their view of themselves as the best. With the law now changed, the Marines appear determined to prove that they will be better than the Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard in recruiting gay, lesbian and bisexual service members.

The Marines weren't incredibly successful at the center, as only a few people spoke at length with the recruiters, but the fact that the military's presence was encouraged at the center is significant - and troublingly so. It shows that DADT wasn't just repealed in order to allow current members of the military to serve openly; it was also repealed to broaden the population of people who are eligible to join the military.

The death of DADT has also been used as a reason to allow military recruiters and ROTC programs (Reserve Officers' Training Corps) back onto college campuses. For years, some college campuses refused to allow military recruiters to work and speak on their campuses, arguing that the discriminatory DADT policy was in direct conflict with their schools' non-discrimination policies regarding sexual orientation. Now, with that conflict resolved, recruiters are being welcomed back.

On Tuesday, for example, Harvard University welcomed back the U.S. Navy's ROTC program for the first time in 40 years. In 1971, the university significantly restricted its ROTC program due to Vietnam War-era tensions, and it continued the restrictions after DADT was implemented in 1993, arguing that the policy did not align with Harvard's anti-discrimination clauses.

With that roadblock demolished, Harvard president Drew Faust said she was happy to welcome the ROTC back on Tuesday, in a ceremony that alluded to the further amplification of military recruitment. Boston.com reports:

The event, which unfolded with dozens of cadets and officers in their dress whites, happened the same day the US government formally ended the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell'' policy that barred gay and lesbian members of the military from openly acknowledging their sexuality. Harvard considered the policy discriminatory, and Faust had cited it as the major obstacle to revitalizing ROTC at the school.

Earlier this year, Vermont Law School and the William Mitchell College of Law (in St. Paul, Minn.) made similar decisions, revising their restrictions on military recruiters because of the repeal of DADT.

Other colleges that had previously limited ROTC programs and military recruitment efforts due to DADT may also be planning to relax those restrictions - or do away with them altogether. Yale University and Columbia University, for instance, have plans to extend formal recognition to ROTC, and other schools may follow suit.

Much like the active recruitment of LGB individuals at the LGBT center in Tulsa, the elimination of restrictions to recruitment on college campuses is evidence of the broader impact of DADT repeal. It has removed a clear instance of discrimination against gay, lesbian and bisexual individuals, yes, but it has also opened up a new demographic of people for the U.S. military to include in its recruitment efforts.

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Here's a side-by-side comparison showing exactly what 13 presidential candidates now plan on DADT, equal pay for military personnel, DOMA, and related issues: www.marriageequality.org/Election2012

FYI: Drew Faust - president of Harvard - is a woman. (Typo? Assumption based on her name? Either way - it adds another layer to the story that you're missing)

Thanks for the heads-up, LynnHB. It's been changed, and I apologize.

But do you think that Faust's gender changes anything about her decision at Harvard to allow military recruiters.

Once again, discrimination against trans-people gets completely ignored. It might be a bit hard to tell, what with all the LGB people celebrating, but trans people have been swept to the curb once again and saying that the military is now non-discriminatory and welcomed back to our "non-discrimination policy" colleges is an open slap in the face.

Indeed. It is fair to acknowledge that repealing DADT is a step forward even though it doesn't include trans servicemembers, but claiming that the repeal of DADT makes the military fully compliant with nondiscrimination principles is blatant and willful erasure of the continuing refusal of the military to treat trans veterans fairly.

It's also exactly what we've come to expect out of Gay Incorporated -- and people wonder why we're angry?

Thanks for commenting, Misty. What may be optimistic for you is that some schools, like Brown University, are still fighting the presence of military recruiters on campus because of the fact that trans people are still discriminated against and not included. Other schools' non-discrimination policies only include sexual orientation. Interestingly, Harvard's and Vermont Law Schools' non-discrimination policies are trans-inclusive, and yet they are still making the case for bringing military recruiters back now that DADT has supposedly "ended" non-discrimination.

We trans people still can't serve openly. We still can't participate in ROTC. We still can't be recruited as enlisted people.

What a shame.

On a news story that appears on Harvard University's site, President Faust says, "[The end of DADT] not only affirms our shared interest in an inclusive society, but also deepens the reservoirs of talent on which the military so vitally depends.”

Right! That's right! But...

Are the military recruiters telling LGB folks with families that even with the repeal of DADT they and their families will not receive housing and other accommodations heterosexual military families do?

Until DOMA is gone, and same-sex military couples are afforded the same rights, respect, and benefits as opposite-sex couples the military should still be banned from ALL campuses. The end of DADT only deepens the well from which the military can draw its cannon fodder. It didn't do anything to address the unconstitutional and heinous treatment that same-sex military spouses are faced with.

The next step that I see is military recruiters having a booth at Pride. For trans people, it will be like passing the HRC booth at Pride. "You wanna donate to HRC?" "You wanna join and serve your country?" The only difference will be that recruiters will have to follow the regulations. They are ordered not to recruit trans people.