Back in May, I wrote a post wondering if gays, lesbians and bisexuals currently serving in the military will be offered an opportunity to participate in this Defense Department study without threat of being subjected to DADT, and I equated not offering them that immunity with asking only white people about the racial integration of the military back in the day. So, color me not surprised by what happened once the survey to active duty military members and reservists that went out was seen by GLBT groups.
I am not surprised that issues like showering moved to the front and center of this debate. Oddly enough, I think Sherri Shepherd spoke for your average straight person in wondering if counseling would be made available to straight people who had to shower with "known homosexuals." It's interesting that the relatives I have who have served, almost to a man, were aware of the gays in their midst and didn't give a shit (including my gay cousin who made it to the rank of Captain). Why not ask the following question in the survey: Have you harassed a known or even suspected gay, bisexual or lesbian in your unit because you don't think that he/she deserves to be serving with you? And I am glad that this idea of instituting some form of segregation is being debunked.
I am beginning to wander a bit with this post, so let me try to bring it back to the point. It seems clear to me that the military is not interested in understanding what it is like to be gay and serve, nor does it seem interested in learning how units with known gay folks work through that reality. It seems clear to me that the military is not interested in learning from the examples of the other western nations that have successfully integrated open gays, lesbians and bisexuals into their forces. I think that the combination of institutional/political conservatism and strong religious conservatism within military leadership is a real driving force behind this foot dragging.
I am tired of the argument that there is some sort of social experimentation going on here. That argument died with DADT, because the notion of the law assumed that there were in fact gays within the ranks. The troops have been dealing with this "experiment" for ages. There are too many gay veterans out there who tell stories of their buddies knowing and not telling, and the world moving along just fine. The American people want this (across the political spectrum), the President kinda wants this, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs even acknowledged that this will happen. So why not stop the bullshit roadblocks and wasteful surveys?