Sexual Orientation and U.S. Military Personnel Policy

Sexual Orientation and U.S. Military Personnel Policy: An Update of RAND's 1993 Study

National Defense Research Institute
Copyright Date: 2010
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 444
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  • Book Info
    Sexual Orientation and U.S. Military Personnel Policy
    Book Description:

    This study on sexual orientation and U.S. military policy, requested by the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Secretary of Defense in order to weigh repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, examines public and military opinion on allowing gay men and lesbians to serve without restriction; research on sexual orientation, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention; and experiences of domestic agencies and foreign militaries.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-5132-5
    Subjects: Sociology, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Preface
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-xiv)
  4. Figures
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  5. Tables
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  6. Summary
    (pp. xix-xxvi)
  7. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xxvii-xxx)
  8. Abbreviations
    (pp. xxxi-xxxiv)
  9. CHAPTER ONE Overview
    (pp. 1-38)

    In his January 27, 2010, State of the Union address, President Barack Obama announced that he would work with Congress to repeal the law commonly known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT; 10 U.S.C. 654). One week later Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), announced that he would appoint a high-level working group within the Department of Defense (DoD) to review the issues associated with properly implementing a repeal of the DADT policy. He also announced that in response to a request from the chairman, Senator Carl Levin, and the ranking member,...

  10. CHAPTER TWO The History of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”
    (pp. 39-68)

    The history of DADT is a story of two conflicting visions of how gay men and lesbians might be allowed to serve in the military. One vision was captured in President Clinton’s January 29, 1993, memorandum asking for a draft executive order ending discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The other vision reflected the view that gay or lesbian sexual orientation is incompatible with military service. Rather than a compromise that all parties could live with, DADT became the focus of a continuing debate.

    This chapter covers the inception and implementation of the 1993 DADT law and corresponding DoD...

  11. CHAPTER THREE Context: Broad Social Changes and Public Opinion
    (pp. 69-90)

    The major public institutions in American society—the military included—have historically reflected the values, norms, and mores of the time, sometimes serving as the vanguards of change and at other times adapting in response to larger societal changes and pressures. We focus in this chapter on three such areas of social change. First, we discuss the increased visibility of gay men and lesbians in American society since 1993 (this is discussed in more detail in Chapter Seven). Second, we describe the increased visibility of gay and lesbian issues (e.g., hate crimes, same-sex partner benefits, and same-sex marriage) in the...

  12. CHAPTER FOUR Sexual Orientation and Disclosure
    (pp. 91-136)

    In the 1993 discussions of a policy change allowing gay people to serve in the military, one of the most strongly expressed concerns was that eliminating restrictions would increase the number of gay military personnel. The same concern—an increase in the number of gay military personnel—has been raised regarding current proposals to lift the ban on disclosure of their orientation by gay men and lesbians. Worry has also been expressed that repeal of DADT will lead to “announcements” of sexual orientation and large shifts in social climate, with gay service members forcing others to confront and accept their...

  13. CHAPTER FIVE Unit Cohesion and Military Performance
    (pp. 137-166)

    In the years immediately after World War II, several scholars argued, based on information collected from German and American soldiers, that unit cohesion is essential to military effectiveness. Their conclusions gained considerable influence within the military. As we discuss below, our understanding of the concept of cohesion and its relationship to military performance has evolved in the years since, but the importance of the general concept of cohesion remains widely appreciated in the military.

    There is little doubt that personal bonds can play an important role in combat motivation. Understanding the full meaning of the termcohesion, what influences it,...

  14. CHAPTER SIX Potential Effects on Military Recruiting and Retention
    (pp. 167-196)

    The possibility of known gay men and lesbians being allowed to serve in the military raises concerns among some people that recruitment and retention could be adversely affected. The military expends considerable resources in the form of recruiters, advertising, pay, and bonuses to attract and retain military personnel. While these resources might be expanded in the event of a drop in enlistments and retention associated with the repeal of DADT, doing so might involve considerable cost. On the other hand, allowing known gay men and lesbians to serve in the military might expand the recruitment and retention of people who...

  15. CHAPTER SEVEN Health Implications
    (pp. 197-232)

    Some have argued that repeal of DADT would attract greater numbers of gay individuals to military service, thereby increasing the prevalence of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and reducing readiness. In Chapter Four, we noted that gay and bisexual men are already serving at rates generally representative of their numbers in the civilian population, while lesbians and bisexual women are overrepresented in the military. These data may indicate that if DADT has been a deterrent to service, it has not been a major one, and thus that repeal would have no major impact on the number of gay people in...

  16. CHAPTER EIGHT Focus Groups of Military Personnel
    (pp. 233-254)

    To understand relevant military opinion on the existing DADT policy and the possibility of a repeal, RAND conducted 22 focus groups with military personnel at ten military installations around the country. Focus groups with military personnel were also conducted as part of the 1993 study. The 2010 focus groups were designed to document the range of opinions among military personnel on a variety of topics, including diversity in the military, the ways in which the military manages diversity, and gay men and lesbians in the military. The focus groups introduced some topics designed to gain insight into how DADT is...

  17. CHAPTER NINE RAND Survey of Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Military Personnel
    (pp. 255-274)

    When a policy change is being considered, it is customary for the key stakeholder groups to participate actively in the debate and for their views to be considered in making decisions. However, in current discussions about repeal of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) policy, the ways in which the views of gay and lesbian service members can become part of the debate are very limited. Only they can tell us how current policy is currently affecting them, and many of the concerns that have been raised about the repeal of DADT have to do with how gay and lesbian...

  18. CHAPTER TEN The Experience of Foreign Militaries
    (pp. 275-320)

    In 1993, RAND examined the experiences of foreign militaries in order to “understand the possible effect of changing policy to permit homosexuals to serve and to examine how other institutions have implemented similar changes” (RAND, 1993, p. 10). Now, in 2010, numerous countries have allowed known gay personnel to serve without restriction for many years, and their experiences may provide useful lessons for the United States. This chapter summarizes the experience of seven foreign countries (including five countries from the 1993 study) and identifies some common themes and lessons that could be useful in shaping and implementing U.S. policies.


  19. CHAPTER ELEVEN The Experience of Domestic Agencies: Police, Fire, and Federal Agencies
    (pp. 321-350)

    In 1993 RAND researchers “took advantage of the similarities between municipal public safety departments and military organizations to examine the experience of police and fire departments . . . to understand what happened in these departments when policies of non-discrimination were implemented . . . [and to obtain] insights into the implementation process itself” (RAND, 1993). These agencies had neither formal bans on gay employees nor limits on the roles they could perform yet reported having few openly gay employees. Now, 17 years later, public safety agencies offer important lessons on how organizational policy, practice, and dynamics have evolved in...

  20. CHAPTER TWELVE The Experience of Other Domestic Organizations: Corporations and Universities
    (pp. 351-370)

    Given our charter to provide information that might be useful to DoD in implementing a policy of nondiscrimination relating to sexual orientation of service members, we decided to depart from the 1993 report and include corporations, universities, and colleges that have implemented such policies. While corporations and universities are very different from the military, they offer another perspective on how large organizations implement policies relating to sexual orientation, the challenges they encounter, and the processes they use to address them. Colleges also attract young adults of the same age as most military recruits who are leaving home for the first...

  21. CHAPTER THIRTEEN Implementation
    (pp. 371-388)

    In 1993 RAND examined how a policy that would allow gay service members to serve openly in the military could be effectively implemented, considering institutional culture and lessons drawn from the literature about managing change in large organizations. Today, 17 years later, we found that lessons in the recent literature are similar to those highlighted in the 1993 study. Rather than produce a strict update of the previous work, we summarize it to remind the reader of those lessons and then offer a distinct but related approach on how to implement change. We provide a three-part framework for managing change:...

  22. APPENDIX Insights from the Expanding Role of Women in the Military
    (pp. 389-410)
  23. Back Matter
    (pp. 411-411)