Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell
The repeal of a controversial policy continues to make headlines – and Carnegie Mellon scholars continue to contribute valuable academic and historical perspective.
Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) – the policy prohibiting openly gay individuals from serving in the military – is being intensely debated in Washington.
“The ongoing integration of gay men and women into American culture will, I believe, lead to the repeal of this policy – if not now, then soon,” said Carnegie Mellon University’s Timothy Haggerty.
Dr. Haggerty has significant experience in the area – having studied it for the last 17 years.
He was a member of the CMU History Department team that helped the RAND Corp. study the issue for the Secretary of Defense in 1993.
History professor Steven Schlossman led the team of six graduate students. In mandatory secrecy, they worked regular 16-hour days for more than three months.
Schlossman shuttled weekly to Santa Monica to incorporate the historical findings into ongoing discussions at RAND – and bring back the ideas generated at RAND to help inform the research at CMU.
“This was not just a background research project,” stressed Schlossman, who said they compiled hundreds of pages of research. “I was able to contribute substantively to the policy discussion at RAND, particularly with the discovery that the Army had successfully experimented with desegregated units during WWII.”
Schlossman also reported on “the relative ease with which troops were integrated on the ground during the Korean conflict.”
Additionally, the team reported on the key roles played by President Truman and other leaders in the successful integration. This included civilian oversight of implementation to smooth compliance and address initial resistance, especially in the Army and Marines.
The team also provided RAND with extensive historical information regarding gay men and women in the military.
“One of the interesting things we discovered is that the military has investigated the issue of sexual orientation in its ranks for close to 100 years,” said Haggerty, now director of Carnegie Mellon’s Humanities Scholars Program.
“There was a lot of policy effort in the military devoted to dealing with gay individuals,” added Schlossman. “Thousands of servicemen had been dismissed, which was not well known.”
The completed RAND study concluded that President Clinton’s decision to integrate gays into the military on terms of complete equality could be accomplished. With legislation hung up in the Senate, however, a ‘compromise’ was enacted – DADT.
“We had one of the leading advocates of DADT at RAND,” recalled Schlossman. “It was the harshest day I’ve ever seen as we debated why this compromise was likely to lead to persecution.”
The military recently released its own study concluding much the same thing as the original RAND report – and is recommending repeal.
“We lived in a different world 17 years ago,” explained Haggerty. “There were relatively few nations then where openly gay men and women could serve in their armed forces. Now the U.S. is the anomaly.
“The soldier or sailor of today has lived in a world where there has always been open discussion of sexual orientation,” added Haggerty. “There will be adjustments, as with any great social change, and these will be addressed. In racial and in gender integration, the key component that made those changes possible was strong leadership.”