Today, Secretary of Defense Robert gates reported the new instructions for Dont Ask Dont Tell, guidelines that are intended to "decrease the number of discharges under this law." Some of these new measures include:
- elevating the rank of officers that are required to initiate investigations and approve discharges
- placing a higher level of scrutiny on those who will be deemed a credible source (this includes "anyone who has a “motive to seek revenge” or “a prior history of conflict with that service member” might not be considered a “reliable person” quoted from The Advocate)
- no penalty for soldiers who choose not to report information they have about a fellow service members sexual orientation or conduct
Reading the revisions to the guidelines and thinking about the motives behind these revisions, its seems to be that impugning someone for homosexuality is not what DADT is even accomplishing. Lets take the higher level of scrutiny for those considered "credible sources" bit. Obviously (and quite predictably), this had to be instated because many service members were crying wolf to get at or take revenge on a fellow service member. Knowing the implications of being accused for being gay in the military, service members utilize the law not because of a persons actual sexuality, but because a fellow service member wronged them in some way, most likely having nothing to do with sexuality. DADT becomes a mechanism to try to get at your worst enemy.
Furthermore, even if there is a higher scrutiny those faithful "credible sources," how can anyone be witness to a persons sexuality/ sexual orientation? In Peers for Pride we make a distinction between sexuality and behavior. A persons sexuality is the one they themselves identify as. We stress that this is sometimes changing and sometimes not, but regardless, it comes to the individual in question. Behavior does not define sexuality and sexuality does not define behavior. With that said, how can one be a reliable source in testifying to ones sexuality if only an individual her/himself is the one, and the only one, who has claim to their identity? If they saw their male service member at a gay bar does not mean that the male is queer. (Hard to believe: take two girls making out at a party. We dont tag LESBO all over them. Same thing goes.) So trustworthy person who gives behavior based evidence is not a "credible source" but merely an observer of what - as much as he knows - is just an act among the many us complex humans have. Unless that individual formally came out to them about their self identified sexuality, that person never knows. That is something that the generals, corenels (sp?), officers and whatnot have to learn.
Luckily, within this problematic law, there is some protection for those who actually know queer individuals' sexuality. Having no penalty for those who choose not to report information protects both queer service members and their closest friends who they have come out to. But nevertheless, DOWN WITH DADT!