LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA-In this year's State of the Union, President
Bush announced his intention to add 92,000 new troops to the ranks of
those on active duty military service. A new research brief from the
Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy at UCLA
School of Law suggests that lifting the military's "Don't Ask, Don't
Tell" policy could be an important factor in meeting the President's
troop expansion goal.
More Reenlistments Per Year
If Don't Ask Don't Tell Is Repealed
J. Gates, PhD
The Williams Institute
A recent survey of lesbian and gay veterans found that nearly one in
five would have stayed in the military longer if they could be more
open about their sexual orientation. The Williams Institute analysis uses
that figure to estimate how many lesbian, gay, and bisexual military
personnel have been lost each year because of the "Don't Ask, Don't
Had the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy not been instituted in 1994, the
report estimates that 4,000 lesbian, gay and bisexual military
personnel would have been retained each year. Of that group, an average of 1,000
men and women were discharged each year as a direct result of the
policy and 3,000 would likely stay in the military if they could serve openly.
According to Dr. Aaron Belkin, "These numbers confirm what scholars
have long suspected, in particular that the 'Don't ask, Don't tell' policy
is associated with the loss of qualified gay troops." Belkin, who directs
the Michael D. Palm Center at the University of Santa California, Santa
Barbara, added that the increased number of gays who would remain in
uniform after the repeal of the gay ban may be offset by about the same
number of heterosexuals who would leave the armed forces because they
do not wish to serve with gays and lesbians. "That said," Belkin added,
"it's a question of who you want representing the country: loyal gay
troops, or intolerant heterosexuals."
To meet the President's goal, the military needs to add more than
18,000 new troops each year for the next five years. If patterns observed in
2004 were to continue for the next five years, the report estimates
that retained LGB personnel would account for nearly one in six of the
additional troops required.
"If the military needs more troops, it makes more sense to keep the
estimated 65,000 well-trained and seasoned lesbian, gay and bisexual
soldiers they already have instead of lowering standards to recruit
convicted felons, as a recent report shows they have been doing,"
observes study author Dr. Gary J. Gates. "Allowing lesbians, gay men,
and bisexuals to serve openly could go a long way to meeting the
President's directive to add 92,000 troops in five years."
Senior Research Fellow, The Williams
advancing critical thought in the field of
sexual orientation and public policy
See his book at: www.urban.org/gayatlas