Military Set to Train for End of 'Don't Ask'; Materials Offer Scenarios on Gays
Byline: Rowan Scarborough, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Four branches of the military have begun sending training material to 2.2 million active and reserve troops as a prelude to opening the ranks to gays, with instructions on, for example, what to do if an officer sees two male Marines kissing in a shopping mall.
Key themes are that sexual orientation will no longer be a bar to service, that all service members must respect each other, and that the partners of gay troops will not receive the benefits of heterosexual spouses.
We are going to make [gay ban] repeal training expeditiously, said Maj. Joel Harper, an Air Force spokesman at the Pentagon. It's great training.
The briefings first target commanders, who will have to enforce the new law and deal with disputes, and then the entire force. The slides, vignettes and talking points by the Air Force, Army, Navy and Marine Corps are similar.
The Marine Corps, which a Pentagon survey found holds deep opposition to lifting the ban, plans to publicly release its training material April 1. A Marine source provided copies to The Washington Times.
The vignette about seeing two male Marines kissing is part of a list of scenarios to help instructors prepare commanders for incidents likely to arise.
Situation, it begins. "You are the Executive Officer of your unit. While shopping at the local mall over the weekend, you observe two junior male
Marines in appropriate civilian attire assigned to your unit kissing and hugging in the food court.
Issue: Standards of Conduct. Is this within standards of personal and professional conduct?
The answer to Marines: If the observed behavior crosses acceptable boundaries as defined in the standards of conduct for your unit and the Marine Corps, then an appropriate correction should be made. Your assessment should be made without regard to sexual orientation.
The vignettes' talking point states that commanders cannot rule a bar off limits simply because it caters to gays. Nor can commanders bar an off-duty homosexual from marching in civilian clothes in a gay-pride parade.
A Marine recruiter may not refuse to induct a gay civilian even though he views it as violating his religious beliefs. Commanders may honor a request not to shower with known gay service members.
Marines are expected to obey lawful orders and could be subject to discipline or adverse administrative action if they refuse orders, even if such refusal is based on strong, sincerely held, moral or religious beliefs, the briefing states.
The briefings were dispatched to service members worldwide, including to combatants in Iraq and Afghanistan, as part of a major indoctrination program ordered by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates to ensure that gays and heterosexuals will serve and fight together.
President Obama signed legislation to repeal the military's ban on open gays. Once training is completed this summer, Mr. Gates must certify to Congress that repeal will not hurt readiness before the ban officially ends.
The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, which led a long effort in Washington to kill the ban, said the military is taking too long to finish the training. …