Don't Ask, Don't Tell: Debating the Gay Ban in the Military

Don't Ask, Don't Tell: Debating the Gay Ban in the Military

Don't Ask, Don't Tell: Debating the Gay Ban in the Military

Don't Ask, Don't Tell: Debating the Gay Ban in the Military

Excerpt

The discussion of gays and lesbians in the military has all too often generated more heat than light. Thus, it is with great pleasure that we have been involved in the project that culminated in this volume, which brings together thoughtful, often opposing, interacting views on the issue.

A conference titled “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: Is the Gay Ban Based on Military Necessity or Prejudice?” was held in December 2000, cosponsored by the Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military (CSSMM) at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and the Commonwealth Club of California. The Commonwealth Club is the oldest and largest public affairs forum in the United States, and the CSSMM is a research institute whose mission is to promote the study of sexual minorities in the armed forces. We are very proud that the conference participants included many of the leading scholarly and official voices on this issue.

As conference organizers, we sought to involve a critical mass of experts of all political persuasions to discuss the topic. That being said, we should acknowledge candidly that opponents of allowing open gays in the military were underrepresented—and thus, are underrepresented in this volume—and we feel it important to explain why. The reasons are threefold.

First, eight of the country’s leading opponents of gays in the military, representing the American Enterprise Institute, the Family Research Council, the Center for Military Readiness, the Army Research Institute, and other organizations, declined invitations to participate. All invitees were offered reimbursement for travel expenses. One individual asked us to change our discussion format as a condition of his participation; we agreed to modify the format, but he declined anyway. Another invitee said that she feared being outgunned unless accompanied by a group of . . .

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