This press release bugs me just a bit because the “news” here is being presented as if this extremely important fact about DADT just came to light. Most of us who haven’t been wowed by rockstar DADT activist Dan Choi already knew that women and racial minorities are the groups most affected by DADT. The fact that Choi and other prominent DADT activists have chosen to ignore this fact really grates my nerves.
For some time now, prominent DADT activists have pushed the “highly educated and skilled gay men with really important military jobs are being kicked out of the military” rhetoric. In the meantime, women and racial minorities who were affected by DADT (especially those who don’t have seemingly “important” roles in the military) have been ignored. We’ve seen a very “entitled and privileged gay male” mentality at play with DADT activists. I use the words “entitled” and “privileged” because any servicemember who props himself up to be a bigger loss to the nation’s armed services than someone else is definitely functioning using a privileged and entitled mentality.
With that said, even though the following press release prompted a really nasty knee jerk response, I think it’s worth posting:
LOS ANGELES — The Williams Institute for Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy at the UCLA School of Law issued results of a new study showing that the proportion of women and racial/ethnic minorities among those discharged under the US military’s “Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell” policy has increased over time. In the late 1990s approximately a quarter of discharges were women and similar proportions were racial/ethnic minorities. In recent years, those proportions have increased to more than a third of the DADT discharges.
Williams Distinguished Scholar Dr. Gary Gates notes that, “These data document a marked shift in how Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell has been enforced among various demographic groups. It is clear that women and racial/ethnic minorities now bear a larger portion of the burden imposed by the policy than they did when the policy was first implemented in 1993.”
The study analyses the demographic characteristics of the more than 13,500 men and women who have been discharged under Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell and compares those characteristics to those of the US military as a whole and to characteristics of lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals (LGB) serving in the military.
The percentage of women in the military has remained steady at about 14-15% from 1997 through 2008 while the percentage of women discharged under Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell has increased from 22% in 1997 to 39% in 2009. Other Williams Institute analyses suggest that the percentage of women among LGB servicemembers has increased from 32% in 2000 to 41% in 2008.
Racial and ethnic minorities comprise about a third of the US military and comprise a similar proportion of the Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell discharges in 2009. Data from US Census Bureau data on individuals in same-sex couples who say they are either on active duty or in the guard or reserve suggest that about a quarter are non-white. This was true in both 2000 and in 2008.
This study follows a series of Williams Institute reports documenting the impact of the Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell policy. Williams Institute research has shown that: Nearly 71,000 lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals are currently serving either on active duty or among guard and reserve forces in the US military. Since its inception, Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell has cost the US taxpayers as much as half a billion dollars. If the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy had not been instituted, an estimated 4,000 lesbian, gay, and bisexual personnel would have been retained in the US military each year since 1994.