Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Ma'am, Would You Care for Some Facts with That? Judging from Her Congressional Testimony, Elaine Donnelly May Be the Most Strident Civilian Opponent of Lifting "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Too Bad Her Reasons for Keeping the Policy in Place Aren't Sound

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Ma'am, Would You Care for Some Facts with That? Judging from Her Congressional Testimony, Elaine Donnelly May Be the Most Strident Civilian Opponent of Lifting "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Too Bad Her Reasons for Keeping the Policy in Place Aren't Sound

Article excerpt

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ELAINE DONNELLY MADE quite a name for herself at the "don't ask, don't tell" hearing held by the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel on July 23. A die-hard advocate of minimizing the role of women in the service, Donnelly, the head of the Livonia, Mich.-based Center for Military Readiness, is now arguably the strongest civilian voice for the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. But her testimony before Congress was fairly bizarre--she warned of an increase in "HIV-positivity" if gay soldiers were allowed to serve openly, and she stated that gay people engage in "passive/aggressive" behavior with heterosexuals-which provoked a backlash among many of her questioners. Arkansas Democratic congressman Vic Snyder, for one, told Donnelly that her arguments were "just bonkers" and "dumb."

We thought so too, so we checked the facts of four of her main arguments.

Argument 1: Sexual tension caused by gay soldiers will hurt morale and discipline. Ending "don't ask, don't tell," Donnelly argued, would "impose new, unneeded burdens of sexual tension on men and women serving in high-pressure working conditions."

But a 1993 RAND Corp. study concluded that gay military personnel could serve openly without detriment to readiness. Furthermore, male and female soldiers have worked together for years, and the military hasn't collapsed. Helena Carreiras, a sociology professor at Lisbon University in Portugal and author of the book Gender and the Military: Women in the Armed Forces of Western Democracies, says she knows of no studies "that can point to a pattern of problematic situations resulting from the integration of women in the Armed Forces, deriving from sexual tension." And gay and straight soldiers already work side by side--tension or no tension.

Argument 2: More gay soldiers equals more HIV infections. "Given the officially recognized correlation between homosexual conduct and HIV infection," Donnelly asserted, if "great numbers of men having sex with men are inducted into the military," there would naturally be an increase in infections.

By Donnelly's line of reasoning, as Snyder said at the hearing, "we ought to recruit only lesbians . …

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