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I was excited to see "DADT: Spouse Survey Revealed".  I'm waiting for mine to come in the mail and wondered if it would be as poorly worded as the one my husband had received.

I started to read the diary and felt a huge let down.  Don't get me wrong... the content of the survey was about what I had expected.  It's the lack of understanding about military families that upsets me.  I started to read the comments and I felt even worse.

Military wives take a lot of crap from a lot of people.  And my first draft of this diary was full of anger.  I know that no one ever intended to hurt my feelings.  And several military spouses responded in the comments that they think the survey is crap.  So why are my feelings hurt and should it really matter?  After all, thousands of good men and women are being kicked out everyday because of a lousy regulation.

I hated the first survey.  It's very similar to this one and it's horrible.  The questions are asked in ways that don't fairly weight the responses and many of the questions are poorly framed.  I wrote about it as well, Arrived in the Mail: 2010 DoD Comprehensive Review Survey of the Uniformed Services.  A lot of what I wrote about that survey is applicable to this one.

I decided to rewrite and explain a few things about military life.  I'm not trying to justify a survey, though some of you will think that I am.  I am trying to explain military life.  I'm hoping that after you're done reading this, you may understand why some of these questions are really important, not to the repeal of DADT, but to what happens after it is repealed.  Maybe parts of this survey should have been sent after the repeal... but then maybe that would be too late.  I liken it to using the patch instead of quitting smoking cold turkey.  I wish they would have just went cold turkey.  But we're left with the patch whether we like it or not.

First stumbling block had to do with question 11:

If Don't Ask, Don't Tell is repealed, the military will want to prepare and assist spouses in understanding the new policy. How would you like the military to provide you with information on the new policy? MARK ALL THAT APPLY

• No special activities or communications would be necessary
• Distribute printed information to spouses about repeal
• Provide information about repeal on military Web sites
• Have interactive chats available on line to answer questions from Service member spouses
• Provide information through military chaplains trained to work with spouses and family members on repeal
• Provide information through military counselors trained to work with spouses and family members on repeal
• Provide information through Family Readiness Group/Work-Life Program leaders trained to work with spouses and family members on repeal
• Offer courses to spouses on how to discuss repeal within their families.
• Other, please specify: __

The diarist response:

I mean, courses? Courses? They're going to make a whole curriculum on this issue? Will it be accredited? Can you get your BA in "Mommy works with a Homo?" So the whole family can go in an learn how to tell little Bobby, "Ok, you know that girl Michelle that Daddy works with? At the end of the day, when she's done filling artillery shells, she goes home to a woman, not a  man. She always did, but now the Army has decided that it's ok for her to say it out loud. So, we just want you to be prepared that Daddy's friend at work may say she's a "lesbian" sometime over the course of her workday with daddy. Do you know what a lesbian is?"

Hell, yes, courses.  Not everyone who serves this great nation grew up in a household where you could say the word gay or lesbian and not be slapped. There are many, many families that will need help figuring out how to explain to their kids that this is completely NORMAL. If the military doesn't offer courses, or a place for conversation about the issue, then it will take years longer for the families of gay and lesbians to be fully accepted. The military hierarchy can't make military families welcoming and understanding.  But they can educate and hopefully make the path just a little bit easier. And when I say easier, I mean easier for the gays and lesbians who will be serving openly and their partners.

[My husband would like to add, if the military leadership doesn't offer courses, then the only guidance most families will get will be in their Sunday School Class].

Furthermore, the military offers courses for everything in military life:

New spouses get introduced to the military through Heartlink.  I'm sure they'll add new information to this program about DADT when it is repealed. And don't you think the people who produce this program should be prepared to handle a new influx of gay and and lesbian partners?  Won't they like to know the ins and outs of military life?

Spouses of deployed members learn about the entire process of deployment (pre, post, and during) through courses and support groups in the Hearts Apart program.  I'm sure DADT will be mentioned as we will need to include partners of gay and lesbian members.  They currently can't take advantage of this kind of support and that is a travesty. They need to be included immediately upon repeal of DADT.  It won't happen because much of the program is volunteer run and volunteer driven and many spouses will fight including gay and lesbian partners.  How do I know this?  I've seen how long it has taken for male spouses to be accepted - at some bases, they are still fighting for 'equality.'

There are courses on finances, on jobs for spouses, education for spouses, marriage counseling, raising kids, anger management, etc.  You name it, there is probably a class for it - including classes in for our military guys on diversity.  They can't make spouses go to this stuff but they can sure as hell offer it and make the transition easier for everyone... including the gay and lesbian family members.

So, yes, courses are par for the course and are not meant to be absurd.

Questions 16 and 19 had to do with retention and recruitment.  The diarist was bothered by the questions themselves but framed his response in a way that denigrated the importance of the military spouse.

Can anything useful be gleaned from whether the spouses would recommend service? Of all the factors that influence the military's ability to recruit--compensation, safety, VA benefits, college tuition, economic climate, current military mission--does anyone imagine spouses attitudes about DADT could possibly have a measurable impact?

Should spouses' opinions matter to the repeal of DADT?  No.  Do spouses' opinions matter to their husbands or wives staying in the military?  Yes.  Measurable impact?  The survey will decide that one.

Spouses' opinions to do matter.  They matter to the active duty member.  The military is learning that if a military family is unhappy at home, then the deployed member can't do his or her job as effectively.  That said, this will be the same for gay and lesbian members.  Their partners will need good morale as well.  They will appreciate it when someone asks their opinion.  It has taken literally decades to get to the point where any spouse opinion matters at all.  

Let's not belittle military spouses to make a point.  Stick to the problem - the opinion of military spouses should not affect the repeal of DADT, no matter what they are.  But military leadership may need to plan ahead if large numbers of military families choose to leave the military.  I don't think that will happen, but if it does, they need to know.

Lots of folks, including the diarist, had problems with this phrase: Family Readiness.

And of course, it's sad a major civil right battle will be waged, possibly won or lost by whether someone's opinion of how it affects their "family readiness," whatever that means.

Wow.  I wish Family Readiness was a vague term to me.  It isn't.  It means having kids prepared to have their dad leave for 6 months to a year or more at a time.  It means knowing that I can handle all the finances and have the powers of attorney in order when it's time for my husband to leave. It means having a contingency plan for help when there isn't family in the area to call on. It means talking to neighbors and trusting the folks that work with my husband to call me every once in a while.  It means having someone to watch my kids if I need to go to my injured husband. It means knowing where I will live if my husband dies.  It means so much more.  It isn't vague to the men and women answering this survey.

So, should the repeal of DADT effect Family Readiness?  No.  Will it?  Probably.  Is it right?  No.  Will it happen.  Yes.  How will the military deal with it?  It's easy to say nothing and it's that person's problem. But wouldn't it be better to educate in the first place so we have fewer of these incidents happening?

Questions 27 and 29 ask about attendance at events or deployment activities.  Believe it or not, military leadership already has a hard time getting families to a lot of these events.  Many of us just ignore them and don't go at all.  But they are trying to improve events and activities all the time (and when my husband was a commander, I was a part of that process too) to convince us to be a part of the team.  

There is a funny thing about these questions - I find I want to answer them as inappropriate as they are.  I want to answer yes, having gays and lesbians attend these events will make me more likely to attend.  And I find it's because I am already stereotyping gays and lesbians in the military.  I am hoping to find more progressives at events and I secretly hope that their inclusion will open up some new doors and bring in some new opinions.  Logically, I know this is a load of baloney.  Gays and lesbians will not necessarily be of the same political spectrum as myself. But the repeal of DADT gives me hope.

I find that I want the survey to ask if I would attend events if I knew that the military chaplain wouldn't offer a prayer or if we could all discuss the upcoming election.  Of course, those things would never happen, but asking these completely inappropriate questions makes me wonder when we can start asking some appropriate ones.

To be sure, this survey wasn't written for the general public. It was written for military spouses to answer and a lot of the hurt comes from not understanding the military system.  This survey sets us up and I'm not sure there is a good way to answer a lot of the questions - I'll answer it because I know I'll have the chance to answer the final question:

  1. As the last question in the survey, we'd like you to tell us about any other thoughts or opinions you have - positive, negative, or neutral - about the implications on family readiness and support or other aspects of military life if the government decides to repeal the Don't Ask, Don't Tell law and policy.


And I will let them know how horrible the survey is and how they have already prejudiced the entire thing by asking the questions they did.

I'll end with this:

If you honestly think that DADT won't be repealed based on the answers to this survey, then you think more highly of military spouses than the actual military does.  Family opinions about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq certainly haven't kept our spouses at home.  Policy decisions are not made by spouse opinion.

But answers from this survey may prepare military leadership to pave the way for better acceptance of gay and lesbian active duty members and their families.  Marriage may not be legal yet, but it will be. We will live next to each other on military bases and need to call one another in times of need. If you believe that not talking about it is the best way to start out, then so be it.  But I know that I want to be in the room when Sally from down the street starts whispering about John and James and the things she needs to keep her children safe from.  Better if Sally doesn't get to start the rumors in the first place because she attended a class that helped her understand that being gay isn't something to be scared of.

Originally posted to A Progressive Military Wife on Sat Aug 21, 2010 at 04:38 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Is this whole topic an Onion-style joke? (5+ / 0-)

    If Don't Ask, Don't Tell is repealed, the military will want to prepare and assist spouses in understanding the new policy.

    In what universe is that not a totally insane notion?

    Some things you know/and some you just believe in/and hope it comes out even --Aimee Mann

    by Rich in PA on Sat Aug 21, 2010 at 04:47:38 PM PDT

    •  I wish I lived in a world where bigots did (10+ / 0-)

      not exist. They do. I have encountered many of them during my husband's 20 year career.

      If we provide ways for spouses to have conversations about this, we could make life much easier for incoming gay and lesbian families.  

      Why is that insane?  Why is education insane?  Isn't it education that has brought us where we are today?  So why not educate military spouses as well?

      •  Not so different from explaining divorce to kids. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        emsprater, jayden, MRA NY

        I don't think we need classes or special training to learn how to explain to our kids that a friend comes from a family with divorced parents.

        ...or explaining a single-parent family.

        ...or explaining a family with a blind parent.

        ...or explaining a family with 2 dads or 2 moms.

        Isn't it enough to know that some people do things differently?  Sometimes those differences have practical or logistical consequences, but it most facets of everyday life, these differences makes no difference at all.

        A Wall Street "bonus" should not be more than what my house is currently worth.

        by bushondrugs on Sat Aug 21, 2010 at 05:26:41 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I've met families in the military (3+ / 0-)

          that didn't know how to explain much of anything to their kids.

          This survey will help the military determine if they can just leave well enough alone.  Maybe they won't need to do any explaining.  But know that there will be families who will not understand that being 'different' is okay.

          Honestly, the best thing to teach most families that this is okay will be the first TV comedy or drama that decides to make this a topic, some show about gays in the military.  But until Hollywood comes up with it, the military will have to figure out something else.

        •  Explaining divorce is not a piece of cake (4+ / 0-)

          It's not simply a matter of "other families do things differently". Kids can get pretty concerned and scared about it. "If Sally's dad could just decide to go away, is it possible my dad could decide to go away?" "Sally got so mad at her dad when he grounded her she said she hated him. Is that why he left"? Divorce is one of the least "easy" thing to explain to kids.

          •  But the fact that it is difficult to explain to (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            kids does not keep people from being allowed to divorce!

            "Don't Bet Against Us" - President Barack Obama

            by MRA NY on Sat Aug 21, 2010 at 05:59:11 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Not at all (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Psyche, MRA NY

              But the topic at hand wasn/t whether divorce should be allowed, it was whether some sort of training or course in how to deal with such parenting questions is warranted.

              I don't think we need classes or special training to learn how to explain to our kids that a friend comes from a family with divorced parents.

              •  But the topic at hand IS whether or not GLBT (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                KathleenM1, bushondrugs

                can serve in the military.

                While I will not argue and do not disagree that parenting and other courses can serve some usefulness,

                I WILL argue that denying a group their civil rights until such time as the military can figure out which courses they wish to provide is bullshit.

                "Don't Bet Against Us" - President Barack Obama

                by MRA NY on Sat Aug 21, 2010 at 06:19:52 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  True, but with families with gay partners, (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            it's usually those who are outside of the immediate family who need to figure out how to accept the differences.

            In this case, they're asking military spouses what kind of training should be provided.

            Case 1: I'm a gay spouse of a soldier, and the implications of a repeal of DADT means that our family can stop living a lie. (Hoorah!)

            Case 2: I'm a heterosexual spouse of a soldier who works with a gay soldier, and the implications of a repeal of DADT means that I irrationally worry about that gay soldier flirting with my spouse, so please train me about why that's no more likely than an opposite-sex soldier flirting with my spouse.  I irrationally worry that teh gay is contagious, so please train me about that, too.

            A Wall Street "bonus" should not be more than what my house is currently worth.

            by bushondrugs on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 12:17:02 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  You know, you are both right. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        emsprater, smellybeast

        Rich is correct that needing to 'prepare and assist spouses in understanding the new policy' is an insane notion.

        Angelajean is correct in that in a world of bigots, education 'could make life much easier for incoming gay and lesbian families.'

        The disconnect is that the entire country/world is full of bigots - not just the military.  Rich (and me for that matter) look at this from a global perspective; angelajean is looking at it from the perspective of a military wife used to having courses to teach basic skills and understanding.

        My reaction to this diary was probably closer to Rich's to start with, and despite the diarist's clear statement of her perspective - that of a military wife - it took me a little while to try to figure out how to make my point here without being harsh, because I really do not want to offend the diarist who is clearly speaking from the heart, and makes it all sound pretty rational, but only when one considers it is from the lens of a military wife.

        While I appreciate the sacrifice the diarist and her family make every day (perhaps us single parents can empathize more than most since we know what it is like to juggle EVERY damn detail, big and small, day in and day out), and I appreciate that your loved one being in harms way is an added burden I cannot fathom, I think you are failing to see that preparing you and other military families for 'teh gay' does not make much sense to many - it is just something every individual and every organization across the country needs to accept.  

        Just as with the Islamic community center issue, this is a civil rights issue, and it really doesn't matter whose feelings are offended by doing the right thing by our first amendment.

        I don't mean to be flippant, really.  And I am straight.  But I have a feeling you are seeing this only through a lens of how you are used to the military handling all issues, not that this is a civil rights matter and personal feelings be damned.

        That doesn't mean that those things you point out won't be helpful - they would, to some degree anyway.  The bottom line is, none of it matters on a global scale - discrimination has to stop regardless of who is prepared to handle it when it does stop.

        I think the things that might be done within the military to help lessen the discrimination will be worthwhile efforts, I just don't like the notion that whether or not your family or any other family on earth is uncomfortable with gays having their first amendment rights enforced is something to be considered prior to that happening.

        I had a lot of trouble trying to make my point here without sounding offensive - I hope it doesn't come across dismissive of military wives, families or way of life - because that certainly is not what I wish to convey.

        "Don't Bet Against Us" - President Barack Obama

        by MRA NY on Sat Aug 21, 2010 at 05:55:29 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Appreciate your efforts to be gentle (5+ / 0-)

          Since I greatly appreciate and admire this diarist and her take on any number of issues.

          I think there is a key phrase in your comment

          something every individual and every organization across the country needs to accept.  

          It is not maximally effective to simply tell people what they "need" to do. It's sort of in line with the "you can't legislate morality" notion. The reality is that people think what they think, and change is most effective if one can alter that thinking. In that respect, this miltary model is ahead of the curve if they have a culture of training and classes for so many issues of concern. Large corporations are also there, to a degree, with required diversity training, etc.

          What doesn't work quite as well:

          personal feelings be damned....discrimination has to stop regardless of who is prepared to handle it

          It works, but not as well as if growing numbers of people affected by the change have information and insights that help them "buy into" the change, and the largest number possible are prepared to handle it.

          •  Yes, and I recognize that the military, with its (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Catte Nappe, angelajean

            closed authoritarian structure, can probably benefit more than most organizations by such preparation.

            I actually fully support all such courses, conversations, PR efforts they might undertake - but, whether or not it works as well, the other part of what I wrote supercedes all else -

            discriminatory practices shouldn't have to wait to be ended until those who are expected to stop practicing said discrimination have their feelings all sorted out.

            "Don't Bet Against Us" - President Barack Obama

            by MRA NY on Sat Aug 21, 2010 at 06:24:12 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  You haven't been offensive. (4+ / 0-)

          And this is the point - to have a conversation about the issues.

          Basically, I agree with you.  I don't care if peoples' feelings are hurt.  Ultimately, DADT must go and it should go immediately, whether people are prepared or not.

          I do care that people are given the opportunity to understand.  Many, many military families come from rural communities with less than stellar education.  They have been exposed to very little and the military is the first place many of them encounter diversity of any kind.  

          But when people feel like they don't belong, they isolate themselves.  It makes military life harder.  I should know.  I've done it myself.  As a progressive, there are bases where I have decided to make my friends all civilian and to avoid the military as much as I can.  But it doesn't work for long... we need too much from our military community.  

          I don't know how to teach people to know that being gay isn't contagious and that being a lesbian doesn't mean that you will abuse someone's kids. Maybe that will only happen over time and with exposure to people that are actually out.

          In a normal work place, this would be easier.  You go to work, you go home. In the military, home too often is among other military folks.  And gay and lesbian families will have a choice to make.  To be like I am at some places and isolate or to become a part of the system.  If they chose the later, I would like at least part of the system to be welcoming.

          •  Huh? (0+ / 0-)

            "I do care that people are given the opportunity to understand"

            This is the crux of the problem.  You would rather continue destroying careers so that others who really ARE NOT EVEN EFFECTED by this are given a chance to get comfortable with it.  If you disagree, please explain how a change in policy effects the other service members family and spouses (other than making them uncomfortable).

            The extra time isn't going to make any of them any more comfortable and this attitude shows a bias against the gays and lesbians serving over the wishes of someone not effected but uncomfortable with the whole same sex attraction thing.

            •  You must have missed this: (4+ / 0-)

              Ultimately, DADT must go and it should go immediately, whether people are prepared or not.

              which is why you wrote this:

              You would rather continue destroying careers

              Take a deep breath - and take a little more time trying to grasp what is being written here.  

              I too feel passionately about the issue, but this is a conversation and, even if you wish to disagree, you don't have to be disagreeable.

              "Don't Bet Against Us" - President Barack Obama

              by MRA NY on Sat Aug 21, 2010 at 06:40:36 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Thank you for your response - I really get all (0+ / 0-)

            that you write about in this comment - the potential isolation, the differences in military lifestyle from regular jobs, etc.

            And I get the need for the military to do things differently - they cannot afford to have the bigots and discrimination amongst their ranks and the necessity of trust amongst members of the military is paramount in life and death situations - I really get how important it is to fully address the many issues surrounding the bigotry.

            Regardless, I can't get past that the discrimination - which really is already outlawed by our first amendment - is not deinstitutionalized immediately and followed as quickly as possible by whatever means they deem best to deal with individual views and fears.

            As you indicate, time will help and even then, some will never get past it.  Just like racism, sexism, other isms still exist in the military ranks, just like they do everywhere else, the planned efforts the military comes up with will go only so far and only with so many.

            Delaying getting rid of DADT so they can gear up for an anticlimatic effect of their efforts just gnaws at me!

            Gotta go to work - late already, but will check back later (much later!) for any response.


            oh, PS - thanks for what you will be writing in the open-ended question!

            "Don't Bet Against Us" - President Barack Obama

            by MRA NY on Sat Aug 21, 2010 at 06:34:39 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I'm very thankful for the conversation (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Psyche, Catte Nappe, MRA NY

              and I wish we could all see each other face to face.

              This is very emotional issue for me.  Has been for a while and I'm not sure why. I have a friend who were kicked out long before DADT was ever instituted and I always felt Clinton was an ass to settle for the compromise.  But just lately there seem to be so many things going wrong and this seems such a simple thing to fix.  I just don't get it.  I wish I could wave a magic wand but that's like wishing for ponies, right?

              I hope the effect is anticlimatic.  Sometimes, I think that it will be.  Othertimes, I remember the Protestant Officers' Bible Study at a base a few years ago.  Completely legal.  And younger officers were invited to attend and hang out with senior officers - as long as everyone was the right religion.  Or didn't mind the right kind of conversation. And this is an Air Force base, the most liberal of the services.  Sometimes, I am very afraid.

          •  I understand your points .... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            but I have to say that this:

            But when people feel like they don't belong, they isolate themselves.  It makes military life harder.  

            is exactly backwards when you apply it to straight military folks being exposed to gay military folks.

            The majority never is the group who gets 'left out' (well, except in the Senate in this Congress).

            I can't cry over that.

            If it's served to us and it's unpalatable but we smack our lips like it is the best thing we ever ate, how will the chef know to change the dish?

            by emsprater on Sat Aug 21, 2010 at 06:38:44 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Not sure why you assume she has it backwards (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Catte Nappe, angelajean

              I took it to mean what she said:

              But when people feel like they don't belong, they isolate themselves.  It makes military life harder.  I should know.  I've done it myself.  As a progressive, there are bases where I have decided to make my friends all civilian and to avoid the military as much as I can.

              She didn't say it applied only to straight folks. It seemed a general statement that could apply to anyone - including gay folks (who might well be more likely to isolate if they are made to feel they don't belong).  

              The conventional view serves to protect us from the painful job of thinking. John Kenneth Galbraith

              by Psyche on Sat Aug 21, 2010 at 10:20:06 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  The survey and any courses ... (0+ / 0-)

                will be about 'helping' the straight military families 'deal' with the 'new' inclusion of the gay into their midst.

                There's nothing, not even a nuanced scintilla of mention about assisting teh gay feel 'welcome'.

                That's why I took the statement as I did.  If it was meant otherwise, I'm sure the diarist can explain that.

                If it's served to us and it's unpalatable but we smack our lips like it is the best thing we ever ate, how will the chef know to change the dish?

                by emsprater on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 08:14:24 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  There is also nothing being (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Catte Nappe

                  metioned aboug making gays feel unwelcome either.  Obviously, that's already been done, right?  So why offer classes if you want to continue in that vein?

                  Classes won't be just for straight folks - and it's most likely that any diversity training that would be offered would get included in programs that already exist - like HeartLink, a program that teaches new spouses about the military.  Gay spouses would be welcome into that program as well and it's likely their inclusion would do a lot towards teaching people that being gay is a pretty normal thing.

    •  You've obviously (7+ / 0-)

      never been in the military.

      The military is where people from all different walks of life (well except the fabulously wealthy) mix. One thing they've learned over the years is there are an awfully lot of ignorant people out there who haven't been exposed to much in their lives.

      So yes, they have a course for literally everything. It seems ridiculous but someone has to (re)teach skills people don't learn from their parents.

      When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace. -Jimi Hendrix -6.0 -5.33

      by Cali Techie on Sat Aug 21, 2010 at 04:57:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  try the "American Universe" (12+ / 0-)

      In what universe is that not a totally insane notion?

      The same universe in which one can't be openly gay and serve in the military.

      The same universe in which a majority of citizens reject one of the cornerstones of modern biology.

      The universe where 20 percent of citizens believe their President practices a religion that he doesn't (and aren't happy about that supposed fact).

      Etc., etc., etc.

      I thought the diarist did an excellent job detailing some facts about the American subculture (in this case, the military) that many people live in, and which may well require different pragmatic solutions than may be required by, say, freshman orientation at Oberlin.

    •  I can appreciate why you may think this is (6+ / 0-)

      a joke.  On the other hand, maybe you could think of it as an illumination of an issue (life in the military) that you don't appear to know much about.

      Think of it as a learning opportunity.  

      "It's a sight to see." Pres. Obama - Dec 8/09 and Jan 16/10

      by Observerinvancouver on Sat Aug 21, 2010 at 05:04:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The devil is in the details (6+ / 0-)

    I understand the aggravation over both surveys (the one directed at military members, and now this for spouses), and the clumsy questions. However, they do serve a couple of useful purposes.

    As nice as it is to think that with the sweep of an executive order pen DADT could be eliminated, it is actually going to take an act of Congress. These surveys provide some measure of both the nature and degree of objections and problems that will occur when it is finally repealed. As a former miliatary brat, and now an adult who has helped to shepherd some largish groups and organizations through major change processes, that is essential information to have. There are steps that can be taken in advance, and during, the transition that mitigate those problems - if they can be anticipated and prepared for.

    •  I hope that the surveys are used (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Psyche, OIL GUY, StepLeftStepForward

      with the intent of making the transition easier.  I really do believe that the repeal is imminent.

      If these surveys are in anyway used to justify not repealing, I will raise holy hell.

    •  I thought Congress had already passed this, (0+ / 0-)

      subject to the military telling the Prez they were ready to go ahead with implementation (by the end of the year, I think) and that it was a "when, not if" matter.  Or is this hung up in the Senate still?  

      If this is done by an act of Congress it would be far more difficult to overturn than an executive order.  

      "It's a sight to see." Pres. Obama - Dec 8/09 and Jan 16/10

      by Observerinvancouver on Sat Aug 21, 2010 at 05:24:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Congress has not passed anything (5+ / 0-)

        but supposedly there is political will to get it passed.

        Some believe that the President could use an Executive Order to change the status quo, but there are debates on that as well.  But he certainly could take a stronger stance and push for the Congress to repeal now instead of later.

      •  The misnamed "repeal" legislation hasn't passed. (10+ / 0-)

        It has passed the House, and the language has been approved by the Senate Armed Services Committee.  Assuming the legislation actually passes the full Congress and is signed by the president (neither of which are certain at the moment), DADT will remain in effect until the numerous criteria established in the so-called "repeal" provision are satisfied.

        The steps that must be completed are:

        (1) The drafting and presentation of a study of the issue to the president, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs.

        (2)  "Consideration" of the study by the three aforementioned officials.

        (3)  The drafting by the Pentagon of policies to implement the recommended changes in the DADT policy (whatever those are).

        (4)  Certification from the three aforementioned officials that the Pentagon's proposed implementation policies are consistent with things like "unit cohesion," "military readiness," etc.

        (5)  The expiration of the 60-day waiting period imposed by the Byrd Amendment.

        At that point, the statutory requirement that the military discriminate against honest LGB servicemembers (10 U.S.C. § 654) will be repealed.  

        This DOES NOT MEAN that LGBs will be permitted to serve openly in the U.S. armed forces.  All it means is that the Pentagon will have discretion to draft whatever policy it chooses regarding service by gays, lesbians, and bisexuals.  The statute as currently proposed provides no antidiscrimination protections for LGBs, and it contains no requirement that the Pentagon permit LGBs to serve openly.  The Pentagon would be fully within its rights under the so-called "repeal" statute if it banned LGBs from service entirely.  

        To make matters worse, even if the Obama administration chooses to permit open service, a subsequent administration could simply change the regulations and forbid it again.  That is because the nondiscrimination language that was part of the original Levin-Murphy legislation was dropped at the insistence of the administration and the Pentagon.  

        So please don't believe any of the hype about DADT being already repealed or about repeal being a done deal.  It isn't, and the legislation is set up to make sure it isn't.

        Maladie d'Amour, Où l'on meurt d'Aimer, Seul et sans Amour, Sid'abandonné

        by FogCityJohn on Sat Aug 21, 2010 at 06:22:03 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thanks for the explanation. Sigh. nt (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          FogCityJohn, teloPariah

          "It's a sight to see." Pres. Obama - Dec 8/09 and Jan 16/10

          by Observerinvancouver on Sat Aug 21, 2010 at 06:33:37 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  It's absolutely lamentable ... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          jayden, FogCityJohn, teloPariah

          that this has to be explained each and every DADT  diary that appears on dKos of all places.

          I always thought this community was 'reality based'.  We're going to have to buy you new energizer batteries for your efforts FCJ.

          If it's served to us and it's unpalatable but we smack our lips like it is the best thing we ever ate, how will the chef know to change the dish?

          by emsprater on Sat Aug 21, 2010 at 06:40:58 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It's easy to understand (5+ / 0-)

            When you have front pagers like Barbara Morrill posting, ahem, misleading stories about the legislation, then people are going to get the wrong idea.  Right after Barb posted that story, Clarknt67 posted a diary asking people not to believe the hype, but the damage was already done.

            I can't tell you how many times I've had to correct people's misperceptions about this.  And some people have the nerve to tell me I'm wrong, even when I refer them to the actual language of the proposal!

            Maladie d'Amour, Où l'on meurt d'Aimer, Seul et sans Amour, Sid'abandonné

            by FogCityJohn on Sat Aug 21, 2010 at 06:54:33 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  See it as an opportunity to educate more people. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            emsprater, teloPariah

            Not everyone on dKos reads about GLBT issues anymore than they read about military issues.  Wrote a diary the other day how retired veterans are going to be bilked on health care yet again - not a single comment.

            This diary has probably brought in some new eyes and hopefully taught a few more people a few new things about DADT and why it needs to be repealed immediately.  If it has done that, it has been worth my time.

  •  Kudos to you for tackling this issue (9+ / 0-)

    with honesty and openness.

    I sincerely hope that your diary is received in the spirit in which it was written.

  •  This is a very interesting diary and you've (6+ / 0-)

    given me the chance to learn a lot more about life in the American military (and the lives of American military families) than I ever thought I'd be interested in.  (I mean that in the nicest possible way.)  

    Winston Churchill once said (approx.) that you could depend on Americans to do the right thing once they'd tried everything else.  Getting rid of DADT is one of those things.  

    In Canada, gays and lesbians have been serving openly in the military for quite a while.  Members of the military march in pride parades in uniform with the active encouragement of the brass.  So far as I can tell, we haven't suffered from this.  This may possibly be a tidbit you can on if circumstances warrant.  :)

    "It's a sight to see." Pres. Obama - Dec 8/09 and Jan 16/10

    by Observerinvancouver on Sat Aug 21, 2010 at 05:16:33 PM PDT

  •  Thanks for sharing your perspective. (6+ / 0-)

    It's enlightening.  Not necessarily a popular point-of-view, but important to the debate nonetheless.

    Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not. Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

    by CDH in Brooklyn on Sat Aug 21, 2010 at 05:31:21 PM PDT

  •  Thanks for offering your... (6+ / 0-)

    ...nuanced and enlightening point of view on this.

    Don't tell me what you believe. Tell me what you do and I'll tell you what you believe.

    by Meteor Blades on Sat Aug 21, 2010 at 05:44:59 PM PDT

  •  Please note (5+ / 0-)

    A couple of points on your diary:

    (1)  I highly doubt that the partners of LGB servicemembers will be allowed to participate in Heartlink or Hearts Apart.  From what you have written, the programs are set up for "spouses" of servicemembers.  Since federal law (the so-called Defense of Marriage Act) specifically forbids any federal government agency from recognizing a same-sex marriage, even same-sex partners legally married under the laws of those states that permit such unions would almost certainly be barred from taking part.

    (2) I am far from clear on what you intend by the following language:

    So, should the repeal of DADT effect Family Readiness?  No.  Will it?  Probably.

    In what way will the repeal of DADT affect family readiness?  None of the matters you discuss in the paragraph preceding the one from which the blockquoted language is drawn appear to be things that would be affected by the open service of LGBs.  I am especially mystified since LGBs are already serving with your husband and others in the armed services.  In short, can you explain how your family's readiness might be affected by allowing LGBs to be honest about who they are?

    Maladie d'Amour, Où l'on meurt d'Aimer, Seul et sans Amour, Sid'abandonné

    by FogCityJohn on Sat Aug 21, 2010 at 06:06:45 PM PDT

    •  I think this will be a matter of time (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Psyche, OIL GUY, Christy1947

      and may depend upon the service and location.  Some places do have 'significant others' participate in some programs.  Others don't

      But marriage is not far behind the repeal of DADT.  I think the military leadership know that.

      •  I have to disagree (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        emsprater, jayden, teloPariah

        I am unaware of any evidence that Congress is likely to repeal DOMA at any time in the foreseeable future.  This is hardly surprising, since the president himself is opposed to marriage equality, and neither the Democratic leadership in Congress nor the White House has shown much appetite for pushing pro-LGBT legislation, even when it enjoys extremely broad public support.  (ENDA and DADT repeal are supported by over three-quarters of the American public.)

        As for DADT repeal itself, I've written a comment upthread about where it actually stands.  I will stand by that.  Suffice to say that repeal is anything but a certainty.

        Maladie d'Amour, Où l'on meurt d'Aimer, Seul et sans Amour, Sid'abandonné

        by FogCityJohn on Sat Aug 21, 2010 at 06:34:27 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I hope you´re wrong. (0+ / 0-)

          I´m so disappointed by so much in the Obama Administration already.  There are days when I am downright depressed and don´t know where to go next.

          I guess I feel hope for DADT repeal and DOMA because they may still happen soon.  But I´m not gay so maybe I also don't feel the fierce urgency of now like I should.  I have to hope that something will happen.  Climate change legislation is a joke.  HCR wasn't much better.  We're still at war and will be for a long time.  

          I really do hope you're wrong.

          •  Hope you're right about DADT/DOMA (5+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Psyche, LuvSet, jayden, angelajean, teloPariah

            although I seriously doubt it.  You're almost certainly correct that we'll be at war for a very long time, and that saddens me to no end.

            My ex (the love of my life) is an Iraq/Afghanistan vet.  The happiest day of my life came when he received a letter saying that he could no longer be recalled to service and that his commitment was truly and finally over.  He'd almost finished serving his four-year enlistment when he was stop-lossed and sent to Iraq.  He was enraged.  He'd opposed the Iraq war and was furious at being deployed there.  But thank God he came back in one piece, at least physically.  I think the mental part will take a while.

            Maladie d'Amour, Où l'on meurt d'Aimer, Seul et sans Amour, Sid'abandonné

            by FogCityJohn on Sat Aug 21, 2010 at 07:00:06 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  When my husband deployed this last time, (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Psyche, FogCityJohn

              we rejoiced because it was Afghanistan and not Iraq.  How sick is that?  Neither of us could support the Iraq War.  He at least has some understanding of how he supports Afghanistan.  I didn't strongly oppose at first but wonder know why I didn't.  But at least my husband could serve in a place that wouldn't slowly eat away at him.

              I hope your ex heals completely - inside and out.  

              •  Know what's funny? (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Psyche, angelajean, teloPariah

                My ex and I spent years together, and we talked about all kinds of deeply personal subjects, subjects neither of us had ever dared speak about to anyone else.  Yet I still have no idea what happened to him in Iraq.  He made vague statements about it being something he didn't want to discuss.  I know strange little details about him and his buddies clowning around and some very general facts about his duties (e.g., "we were guarding Camp Liberty"), but that's it.  

                All I know is that what happened must have been pretty bad.  We met shortly after his return from Iraq, and he thrashed so violently in bed at night that I couldn't sleep a wink.  That got better, but he has a serious anxiety problem and chooses to self-medicate with weed, lots of weed.  I hope he's doing better now, but we're no longer together, so I don't know.  But Iraq has left its mark on him, that's for sure.

                Maladie d'Amour, Où l'on meurt d'Aimer, Seul et sans Amour, Sid'abandonné

                by FogCityJohn on Sat Aug 21, 2010 at 08:12:35 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I know FCJ, (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Psyche, FogCityJohn, angelajean

                  My partner is a cop, sometimes doesn't want to communicate. They give him duties designed by psycho right wingers that are clearly biased and obviously political...what can he do? He gets ashamed and shuts down. Thankfully, we share a therapeutic regimen involving communication with each other, and he works very hard at it, (the way he works at everything :-)) But yeah, I feel for you. And PTSD? Don't even go there....

                  I will push back, rise up, and speak out against all forms of discrimination that plague our community.

                  by teloPariah on Sat Aug 21, 2010 at 08:34:16 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  You're not alone. (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Psyche, FogCityJohn

                  Lots of spouses don't know what happened over there.  Probably never will.  I heard of a program that is trying to get Vietnam Vets to talk about the war and most of them still refuse.  Those that do are glad after the fact, but it a very draining, a difficult thing to do for so many.

                  I'm lucky that my husband doens't serve in a combat position.  He saw lots of stuff but never had to shoot anyone.  I was scared to death while he was there but the same man came back and I am very, very thankful for that. I know how lucky I am.  

    •  Sorry, I missed your second question. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      My family readiness won't be effected by the repeal of DADT.  I don't care if my husband's commander is gay or that the first shirt who calls to check on my family is gay.  I don't care if the neighbor who helps me mow the lawn is the gay husband of a gay active duty member.  

      But many people will care about those issues.  And that will effect their readiness.  If you can't communicate well with the chain of command because you won't talk to the gay guy, you're shit out of luck, aren't you?  Their problem?  Yes.  But also the military's problem.  If this supposed family has any problem while the active duty member is deployed, their lifeline is the chain of command.  If they don't use it and get into trouble, then the deployed member may have to be called home.  It effects both family readiness and military mission.  It isn't right but it is a fact that this will happen.

      •  I see (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        emsprater, MRA NY

        Well, I am afraid that I have difficulty feeling much sympathy for someone who may elect not to communicate with the chain of command because s/he "won't talk to the gay guy."  And believe me, any discomfort this hypothetical individual may feel pales in comparison to the hardships imposed on LGB servicemembers by this policy.

        Let us hope, then, that the military is able to offer courses to people in how to treat their fellow human beings as, well, human beings.

        Maladie d'Amour, Où l'on meurt d'Aimer, Seul et sans Amour, Sid'abandonné

        by FogCityJohn on Sat Aug 21, 2010 at 06:40:43 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  many other nations have already traveled this (6+ / 0-)

    road. what makes US military leadership feel they need to go this remedial route? It's not like the nations allowing gay and lesbian soldiers to serve openly have chump militaries either. I mean Israeli unit cohesion should be every bit as important to them as it is to the US.
      I appreciate you taking the time to share your perspective/concerns. Thanks.

    What do we want??? Equal rights! When do we want them??? Now!

    by tnichlsn on Sat Aug 21, 2010 at 06:09:40 PM PDT

  •  I do understand that the families of (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bushondrugs, angelajean

    service members go through quite a bit when their loved ones are on active duty.

    That said, I really think you are being insensitive.  How would you feel about a survey of spouses that asked the same questions about blacks, Muslims, or Jews?

    Can't you see how it is insulting to be asking the spouses if they think they should be provided a course on how to deal with gays?

    People who have sacrificed a great deal are losing their entire careers over this policy and you are getting angry because some comments are laughing at having a course on how to deal with gays?   You don't need a course for that, just deal with them and give them the respect that you would give any other person.

    •  So, let me get you... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      It's not right for the military to be insensitive to gays but it's okay for folks on DKos to be insenstive to military spouses?

      All I ask is that you consider that having military spouses talk about DADT is a good thing.  Do you know I can't talk about most things that interest me to other military spouses because it isn't politically correct.  We can't talk about DADT, about HCR, about the environment, about education, about dozens of other topics because it would break the unwritten rule that we don't talk about politics.

      Where are these people supposed to hear that repealing DADT is not only acceptable, it is the right thing to do?  A lot of them listen to FOX all day, they listen to Beck and Hannity, they attend fundamentalist Christian churches.  Yes, they need the damn classes so they can hear from the leadership that discrimination will no longer be tolerated.  

      I'm sorry DADT even exists.  I've hated it all along and spoke out against it at every opportunity that didn't make me a pariah among military circles.  And probably a few times when people rolled their eyes and thought, why won;t she shut up. Maybe that wasn't enough.

      What I don't think you understand is that education of military families will make life easier after the repeal... not for them but for the gays and lesbians that will have to live and work beside them after they come out.  Not all in the military are bigots. But some of them haven't learned that they aren`t.

      •  I apologize for any anger I have been displaying (0+ / 0-)

        in my previous comments.

        This issue really is a sore spot for me as I have friends that are suffering because of this policy.

        I am not against military families or spouses and I don't know anything that I said that has been insensitive towards them.  Gays and lesbians make up part of this "military family" issue as well.

        The best way to educate the military families who are afraid of gays and lesbians would be to immediately to allow them to serve openly and bring spouses and domestic partners to functions.  This would do more for educating these folks than any courses could.

        I just don't know how to convey to you how insulting it is to have gay and lesbian service members continue to be kicked out while spending more effort worrying about how conservative military members and their families are going to feel about it?   Just do it and let them deal with it.  I still haven't heard how this really effects them except for making them feel uncomfortable, but I'm sure these same conservative members would feel uncomfortable around Muslim service members as well.

        •  I think we basically agree (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          on everything.  It's just a matter of degree.  

          This whole process has been very cathartic for me.  I can only imagine what it will be like when DADT is finally repealed.  And if I feel this way, I can't even begin to imagine what it's like for all those families who can't even participate in this process because they 'don't exist.'

          •  And this kind of interchange... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Psyche, angelajean

   me hope.

            Thanks to you both, and best of luck to you each with your challenges.

            Thanks to the diarist for the hard work and soul searching.

            True patriotism hates injustice in its own land more than anywhere else. -------------------------------------------------------Clarence Darrow

            by Leroy the Roadie on Sat Aug 21, 2010 at 08:43:25 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Perhaps it would be of some merit ... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LuvSet, smellybeast, angelajean, MRA NY

    if the Military that is going to prepare these 'courses' that seem to be very necessary, were to actually you know, consult some GLB Americans and military members and families before they make these 'courses' up.  It might be really good if instead of gearing them towards only the needs of the straight folks they would actually try to understand the thing they are anticipating is 'the problem', notably 'the gay'.

    If it's served to us and it's unpalatable but we smack our lips like it is the best thing we ever ate, how will the chef know to change the dish?

    by emsprater on Sat Aug 21, 2010 at 06:28:06 PM PDT

  •  Even though I have never (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Psyche, MRA NY

    been in the military, I have no difficulty in imagining how hard life can be for military families. Clearly there are some special burdens there. It sounds like you have some basic confidence in the good faith efforts of the military to support families. That other diary was written from the point of view of gay activists. We really don't have confidence in the good faith efforts of the military when it comes to our issues. I think that we are talking about two different sets of issues.

    I have no doubt that informational and discussion groups for families would be a useful thing providing that the information is reasonably sound. I can understand your interest in that. Since none of us have inside knowledge of what the real agenda is for the people who issued this questionnaire we can only speculate about its purpose.

    I hope that DADT does get repealed and that there is a genuine effort to implement the changes in a supportive and constructive manner. We shall see what actually happens.

  •  It certainly wasn't my intention to anger (8+ / 0-)

    you or hurt you, or make you, as a military wife feel marginalized, or that your feelings were unimportant.

    On that exact point, I'd ask people to imagine how the LGB partners feel about being marginalized, not allowed to live on base, having to be doubly invisible, and not being given any real means to participate in this process.

    But, my complaints have largely been directed at the process of this.

    1. The Pentagon freely admits this is not a scientific poll, as if a sample size of 550,000 for the two surveys didn't make that plain. Absent any scientific methodolgy, no real useful data can be expected to be culled from this process.
    1. Methods exist to smooth this transition and make it easier for everyone. We pride ourselves here on being reality-based, and having respect for science. There are sociologists and psychologists that could likely help a great deal in making this as seamless a process as possible. But it's clear the Pentagon has not taken advantage of the resources $4.5 millions would make available. Instead spending money on push-polling.
    1. There is a disingenousness about the process that assures the progressive base that with regards to DADT it's not a matter of if, but when. And then to speak to the troops repeatedly about "if" it's repealed. We as gay people are expected to pay no attention to the double talk.

    And I actually am fairly optimistic about what responses will come back. That is, I do have faith your family and others are far more enlightened than the people who created this survey. But that doesn't mean I'm not concerned about the inherent homophobic framing, or that I am not personally insulted by it. Or that all this discussion of "family" is by defacto, not including the family of the estimated 66,000 LGB servicemembers who are currently on active duty. This process is designed to exclude them from participating.

    Again, I apologize if I have caused you pain. I certainly want this to go as smoothly as possible. Best, and thank you for the sacrifices you and your family have made for our country.

    Trickle down Equality isn't working

    by Scott Wooledge on Sat Aug 21, 2010 at 06:53:42 PM PDT

    •  I know that was not your intent (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Psyche, Clarknt67, Lady Libertine

      and that is why I waited and rewrote.  But we often say things about others when we don't understand them that can be taken the wrong way and I felt this was a good opporunity to explain some things about military life when it might actually get read.  This topic is a popular one on DKos... plain old military ones not so much.  I feel like I owe you the apology for jumping on board.

      As I read your diary, I started thinking of all the spouses that I know that probably would prefer that DADT wasn't repealed.  I know them.  They're nice people but they don't get it.  How do I help them to get it?  By exposing them to what is okay - by Facebook mostly because I can get away with it there where I can't get away with it face to face.  Ironic, isn't it?

      You are very justified in your anger at the military system and the military leadership.  But don't be mad at these women I know because they've never been exposed to gays and lesbians. Do I want to make it easy on them?  Maybe.  I guess I just want the whole process to be easy for everybody.  I can't stand conflict and am always looking for compromise.  Maybe it's wrong of me in this case.  Certainly gays and lesbians have no reason to compromise.  They've been treated by shit.  Ironically, military families have been treated like shit a lot too.  We probably have a lot in common.

      Honestly, I think the vast majority of military families won't miss a beat and could care less about the repeal, one way or the other.  I wish it would just happen and be done so we could know.  A tiny part of me worries.  It's the part of me that has met the very Christian homeschoolers and the part of me that learned not to share my political views or my son's atheism until they knew me really, really well.  These people judge far too easily.  And, though they are not a majority in the military, they have a way of swaying the middle folks to their side.  It's not pretty.  I'm afraid if we aren't proactive, if the leadership doesn't think ahead, there might be hell to pay later.

      This survey is wrong but I will be very honest when I tell you that I am more than a little glad that the establishment even considered asking our opinion.  I think you can understand that.  

      And I hate that my ego was stroked so easily.

  •  I once met a new male MD intern, a virgin... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ...who mistook a female urethral opening for a vaginal opening. He said he was a virgin but I suspected at the time that was easier for him than revealing he was gay. Anyway, he was met with some shock and ridicule by his peers after they realized his confident and innocently natural admission of confusion was authentic and it was not a joke on them.  

    Anyway, we can be so insensitive sometimes about our hubris and our projections. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to see your view of being a military spouse. It was surely the first time I gave it any thought.

    "People need dramatic examples to shake them out of apathy," Bruce Wayne in Batman Begins.

    by kck on Sat Aug 21, 2010 at 07:00:39 PM PDT

  •  Nice diary (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and lots of sound questions that will be difficult at best to answer for families.  I will share this on facebook and twitter.  Somehow I screwed up and removed my recommend from the diary and it will not let me put it back.  My bad.

  •  Your points seem entirely reasonable to me (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Richard Lyon

    It would be nice if SOME sort of preparation for the repeal of DADT were not needed but you have made some excellent points, and in addition, as a military wife you have an inside perspective.

    Thanks for this diary.

  •  I posted a comment to the survey diary (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    that responded to the idea of classes the military might institute, so I'll repost it here:

    I remember a 60 Minutes segment -- this was 20-25 years ago? -- in which 60 Minutes interviewed a man who taught classes in overcoming racism for the military. He was a military man himself. He was African American -- but he LOOKED white. He passed easily. He could speak to his white students white to white -- and his black students read him as another clueless white (the cluelessness, of course, being part of the show). When the educator would bring in a photo of his parents people would routinely be shocked -- his parents had familiarly African features.

    I remember being impressed by how seriously the military seemed to be taking racism, not just in the abstract but as something to be knocked out, that racism was regarded as a real obstacle to the military's mission.

    I remember wistfully imagining a similar effort on homophobia ...

    Angelajean, if the military were to institute anti-homophobia classes, that would be -- what would the right word be? -- appropriate. But do you really think that the survey is suggesting that's a possibility?

    Anyway, I was charmed by your saying this:

    I want to answer yes, having gays and lesbians attend these events will make me more likely to attend.  And I find it's because I am already stereotyping gays and lesbians in the military.  I am hoping to find more progressives at events and I secretly hope that their inclusion will open up some new doors and bring in some new opinions.

    Yes, there are very conservative gays, but even they, living their lives in the open & able to include spouses in those out & proud lives, would certainly "open up some new doors and bring in some new opinions." Here's hopin'!

    •  You ask if the survey is opening the way to (1+ / 0-)
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      an anti-homophobia class.  Maybe.

      The military can't make spouses attend any of their courses.  They offer many courses to their active duty that they don't for spouses, like diversity training.

      But the fact that they are even asking if it would helpful is huge.  If enough people indicate that they would attend, I am sure some course will happen.  It is more likely that they will integrate a program much like the one you spoke about  into other programs - like HeartLink.

      I look forward to the day that our gay and lesbian members can come to events with their partners. We all need each other, especially during war.

      •  I'm curious (1+ / 0-)
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        Given that the military offers active duty troops courses in diversity (where they might even be mandatory?), why would they not offer such courses to military families on a voluntary basis? It seems - as you point out - that a lot of these folks are encountering a lot more diversity than they ever planned on and it might help them to make a more positive and open adjustment if they were less fearful. Does the military leadership assume they wouldn't attend?

        Congratulations on a first rate diary and respectful handling of the comments thread!

        The conventional view serves to protect us from the painful job of thinking. John Kenneth Galbraith

        by Psyche on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 12:11:42 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm not sure why they don't offer the courses (0+ / 0-)

          except that it costs money.  I know that a lot of money has been put into the HeartsApart program in the Air Force and it still isn't enough.  Most programs ran for military spouses are kept alive through volunteer efforts and there aren't enough of those either.  To make it worse, the volunteers are sometimes those spouses that need the most support.

          My husband says that active duty folks take diversity training every time they move.  That might also prevent families from participating - moving is a stressful time and spouses are busy getting kids involved in the new place, finding friends, finding jobs, settling into school, unpacking, etc.

          However, that said, a few years ago at an Officer Spouses' event, we had a training about personality differences that was excellent.  It did have to do with accepting difference but it didn't tackle it through race.  It was a training intended for the workplace but they were finding it helpful in volunteer situations as well.  Officer Spouses clubs can be fraught with issues and any kind of diversity training is a welcome addition.  But that was the only time in our 20 years that I remember anything like that aimed at spouses.

          Thanks for being a part of the conversation!

          •  My brother (an officer at the time) took one of (1+ / 0-)
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            those personality-types courses, and it was great in the way it caused him to examine how his mind works and the fact that different people approach life and problems differently. THe course assumed that each personality type has its strengths and weaknesses, and all are to be accepted rather than judged. Families were offered the chance to take the personality test if they wanted to and be told what their type was, with some handouts related to each type. It was really useful for my brother's familiy, as it gave them a common language for talking about differences in the family.

            I've been impressed, over the years, by the Army's attempts to deal directly with important issues among those who serve, including diversity. They don't always do a great job, but there is some real seriousness there.  I hope that the same approach is extended to gay and lesbian service members and spouses.

            It makes you understand, though, why some military officers, and a lot of right-wingers, have been so resistant to ending DODT. Becuase if the armed forces really start dealing with having GLBT service members, then they'll be committed to fostering a level of tolerance that the right hasn't even begun to accept as a valid goal for our society.

            THank you for a really useful diary that will help non-military Kossacks understand a little more about what military life is like.  I'm sorry I didn't see the diary  in time to rec it. You did a very good job.

            •  Thanks, Fiona! (0+ / 0-)

              This comment really stuck out:

              Becuase if the armed forces really start dealing with having GLBT service members, then they'll be committed to fostering a level of tolerance that the right hasn't even begun to accept as a valid goal for our society.

              I think you are exactly right.

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