Coast Guard Considers Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Outcome a ‘Non-Event’
By guest blogger former Marine Capt. Tom Carpenter, SLDN board member
UPDATED/CORRECTION: On Monday, Feb. 28, I wrote that the Coast Guard appeared to have broken ranks and charted a different course on repeal of DADT from the other four services (see the full post below). This conclusion was based on three pieces of evidence. (1)The inclusion of sexual orientation in the new Coast Guard Anti-Harassment policy (2) the content of a recent speech given by Admiral Robert Papp, the Commandant on the state of the Coast Guard and (3) the lack of any formal training program with deadlines. I have often cautioned us to be ever vigilant as the implementation and repeal process unfolds.
Within an hour of posting the post on the Outserve Facebook site (a closed site with over 2600 active duty members), on the same site, someone posted a message entitled “USCG:DADT REPEAL IMPLEMENTATION-POLICY AWARENESS TRAINING.” (Please see the entire USCG message at the end of my original post below.) This message is from Admiral Papp and to some extent establishes a training program that parallels the training programs of the other services. However, there are significant differences, which suggests the CG is just going through the motions: Tier 1 (experts such as Flag Officers, Judge Advocates and Chaplains) and Tier2 (Commanders and senior Non-commissioned officers) will be done by computer. Tier 3 will be conducted at all-hands meetings. My friends in the Coast Guard tell me what usually happens at these “training” sessions. The CO or XO stands up in the meeting and says, “OK, this is how it is going to be….” And that will be it. All this “training” starts today, Tuesday, March 1, and must be completed by June 30, 2011. One can only speculate why the Coast Guard fell in line with the DOD.
What we now have to keep an eye on is the most important thing the Coast Guard has done: the CG included sexual orientation in its Anti-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment Policy Statement. This is a significant step the other services should fully embrace.
In signing off on his message establishing the “training” program, Admiral Papp made the following clear and unequivocal statement of his position and that of the United States Coast Guard:
“AS MEMBERS OF THE ARMED FORCES, WE HAVE SWORN TO UPHOLD AND DEFEND THE CONSTITUTION OF THIS GREAT NATION, AND WE WILL DO SO SMARTLY ANDPROFESSIONALLY. AS I STATED IN MY CONGRESSIONAL TESTIMONY, REPEAL OF “DONT ASK, DONT TELL” IS IN KEEPING WITH OUR CORE VALUES.”
Semper Paratus, indeed!
My original post:
Today the Navy started tier three “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) Repeal training throughout the Fleet. This means the Navy is starting to train its sailors with an eye to completing all initial training by the end of June this year. Like its unilateral decision to allow women to serve on submarines without Congressional intervention, again the Navy is ahead of the game. The Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Gary Roughead, has publicly stated that repeal will be easy, but is the Navy really leading on repeal?
“Semper Paratus”- The Coast Guard is ready!
While the training for repeal proceeds within the Department of Defense (DOD) in accordance with requirements of the law and the four services have now set deadlines, the United States Coast Guard has again shown it is “Always Ready.” Although the Coast Guard is a military service, it is not part of the DOD but falls under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). When DADT was implemented in 1993, and before the Coast Guard was transferred to the DHS, the service signed a memorandum of agreement with the DOD to comply and follow the DADT law.
The Commandant of the Coast Guard, Admiral Robert Papp, has not produced an instructional video with the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard. In fact, he has neither set any deadlines for training nor even started training the force. Why not?
Apparently, the Coast Guard has chosen to follow the lessons of our closest cultural military allies, the British, Canadians and Australians. These allies did not see the need for an extensive and long drawn out process and training program. When the British were ordered by the European Court of Human Rights to lift their ban in 1999, they followed the example of the Australians who and successfully and voluntarily done the same thing five years earlier. These allies, like our military leadership, recognized that the most important thing for a successful implementation of repeal of their ban was leadership. The British merely issued a one-page document entitled “Armed Forces Code of Social Conduct” which sets out a policy based on behavior and whether an individual’s conduct may impact adversely on the cohesion, efficiency or operational effectiveness of the Service.
The transition to open service was reported by these allies as a “non-event.” It has been over 10 years since this non-event occurred in the United Kingdom and there have been very few problems reported.
It seems the Commandant of the Coast Guard has taken the same approach as our allies. He recently issued a one-page document entitled “Anti-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment Policy Statement” in which sexual orientation is specifically listed along with other protected classes. To quote Vice President Joe Biden, “this is a big F-ing deal.”
The Coast Guard’s approach to repeal of DADT is probably best represented in a State of the Coast Guard speech given to leadership of the service by Admiral Papp on February 11, 2011 in which he said,
“The repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell will also require YOUR leadership – And I’m counting on YOU to exercise it. It’s every Coast Guardsman’s job to make the workplace one of respect. YOU must value YOUR shipmates, no matter what their background.”
The United States Coast Guard has shown the way forward. It has provided the protections needed to reverse hundreds of years of discrimination against LGB patriots. It has recognized the need to make this change expeditiously and has again demonstrated that leadership is far more important than any training program in guaranteeing success. Semper Paratus, indeed.
What about the rest of the services?
Earlier in the month I wrote a piece for LGBT POV entitled “Storm Warning- Problems with Implementation Ahead.” As the DOD moved forward to implement repeal of the DADT law, I pointed out three potential problem areas. The first two dealt with uncertainty and the failure to set firm deadlines. The third was regarding the nondiscrimination provisions that had been stripped out of the final bill.
Since then, the military has moved ahead with all due speed, led by the service that was most resistant to change in this personnel policy – the Marine Corps. Surprisingly, the newly Obama appointed Commandant of the Marine Corps, General James Amos, during his confirmation hearing on September 21, 2010, testified that he, like his predecessor, General James Conway, opposed a change in the law. Again on December 3, 2010, when he testified before the same Senate Armed Forces Committee, he repeated his opposition but said that if the law were repealed, the Corps would step out smartly to carry out the new policy. On January 28, 2011, he joined the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps and reiterated his intention for the Corps to lead the way forward.
Not to be outdone by the Marine Corps, on February 4, 2011, the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Gary Roughead, gave orders to the fleet about the Navy’s plan for implementation.
Like their counterparts in the Marine Corps and Navy, the Air Force Chief of Staff, Gen. Norton Schwartz and Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, James Roy, have produced a video to be shown during training that has not been made public yet. The Air Force announced on their website on February 11, 2011 that training would start soon.
The Army took a different approach. On February 17, 2011, the Army Chief of Staff, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., during the 4-star conference at the Pentagon, launched the Army’s DADT Repeal training program to senior leaders from across the force.
The good news is that all four services have now set deadlines in which to complete the training programs. The Marines again lead the way with a target date of May 31, 2011. Both the Navy and Air Force are planning to have their initial training completed by June 30, 2011. The Army, with by far the largest force, has a goal of mid-July for Active duty soldiers and mid- August for Reserves and National Guard.
If these deadlines are met, then the 60 day period called for in the repeal statute, should start to run at the completion of the Army program with a realistic target date of around mid to late October – Halloween. Since the first Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) dinner in 1994 was held around this time and entitled “End the Witch Hunts!” what could be more appropriate?
It is clear that the uniformed services are diligently carrying out the orders of the civilian leadership. So far, there has been no evidence of delay or any attempt to “kick the can down the road.” But SLDN continues to remind servicemembers that DADT is still law until the 60 day period is complete and the commander-in-chief says the law is fully repealed.
A return to the status quo before DADT
Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal.” Our guests were former Rep. Patrick Murphy, the House champion of the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, which in addition to repeal DADT, had as its major component a policy of nondiscrimination; Aubrey Sarvis, Executive Director of SLDN; Allison Herwitt, Legislative Director from Human Rights Campaign; as well as former Army 1st Lt Dan Choi and the lead trial attorney in the case of Log Cabin Republicans(LCR) v. Gates, Dan Woods.
One of the issues we were concerned about is how and why nondiscrimination was removed from the law that passed. Rep. Murphy told us that in order to move the bill in the Senate this compromise was necessary. He did not identify which Senators demanded that nondiscrimination be stripped out of the Act.
We can only speculate that this compromise was an effort to appease the Secretary of Defense and the military leadership who wanted open service done their way. Perhaps they did not want this President to repeat the fiasco of 1993, but instead get a buy-in by the military with the legislative implementation scheme presently in place. In essence, what was happening was that the policy on gays in the military was being removed from the control of the legislative branch, where it had been since passage of DADT in 1993, back to the executive. In order for this to happen, statutory discrimination protection was likely sacrificed.
Why additional protection is needed
It is the third problem that still needs to be addressed and soon. What additional protections will be available to lesbian, gay and bi-sexual (LGB) service members once repeal is in place? Right now there are none. Dr. Stanley, in his briefing in early February, talked about leadership and the need to treat all service members with dignity and respect. He and General Cartwright, the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, advanced use of the chain of command or the Office of the Inspector General to remedy any problems experienced by LGB troops. These are standard procedures that have been in place in the military for centuries and are available to all members of the Armed Forces who claim there has been a failure of leadership. The question is, will this be adequate with the change in the law and if not, what can be done to insure that LGB service members are treated fairly?
I would argue that this is not enough. Like other minorities such as women and people of color, gays and lesbians have also faced discrimination in the military. But the discrimination against LGB service members has been very different. Since Frederick Gotthold Enslin was discharged from the Continental Army in 1778, many tens of thousands of Americans have faced a similar fate. Some were even imprisoned just because of whom they loved. It has been the official policy of the United States government for over 218 years that gays, lesbians and bisexuals could not serve, period.
For the past 17 years, under the “compromise” of DADT the government welcomed the service and sacrifice of GLB patriots as long as they denied and concealed the most fundamental part of their identity and lived a lie. The rationale for these two different policies has changed over time but the results have been the same – government mandated discrimination. DADT was the only law in the land that made GLB people second-class citizens. It encouraged, no required, members of the military to discriminate against their LGB comrades in arms. Against this history of bigotry, the DOD now mandates a 180-degree turn around in the law and the attitude of some and anticipates no recriminations against those who have been the object of this discrimination. With all due respect to the quality of leadership of those professionals in the military, this may be a bridge too far for some.
If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it?
A policy of nondiscrimination based on sexual orientation is now, in all practicality, dead in the legislative process. There remains only two ways left to provide adequate protection to LGB service members, by executive action or judicial intervention. On February 9, 2011, SLDN called upon President Obama to issue an executive order to make it the official position of the United States to not discriminate against members of the services because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
There is another executive option available. The DOD can merely change the Human Goals Charter to include sexual orientation as a protected class. There is precedent for this action. In 1998, the Charter was changed by the DOD to include sexual orientation as a basis for protection for civilian DOD employees. The mere insertion of the words “sexual orientation” in the section dealing with the uniformed services would be an important step in solving this foreseeable problem.
Finally, the judicial branch may take action. The Log Cabin Republican case now pending on appeal in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals may provide that vehicle. On many occasions, Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen have made it clear that the DOD does not want a judicially mandated repeal of DADT and a finding that the law is unconstitutional. That is precisely what happened in this case and for 8 days the DOD was enjoined by the trial court from enforcing DADT. In spite of the concerns of the DOD there were no reported problems. Dan Woods, lead attorney in the LCR case told us during the recent panel “The Truth Behind Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal” and afterwards he intends to pursue this litigation even if repeal becomes effective. His argument is that a future Congress or administration may try to reverse repeal of DADT and if Judge Phillip’s decision is upheld, it would prevent this from happening.
While it appears the process towards certification, as required by the law, is proceeding in a timely fashion, we must be ever vigilant. The other services should look to the Coast Guard. They now have appropriate protections in place for LGB service members and will have lived with open service for many months before the DOD’s extensive implementation process is completed. The Coast Guard experience will likely be consistent with the undisputed fact that GLB patriots have been serving for years, often with the knowledge of their fellow comrades in arms with no negative impact on unit cohesion, morale and discipline. I suspect the other services, like our allies and the Coast Guard, will find that repeal will be a “non-event.”
THE MESSAGE FROM USCG:
SUBJ: DADT REPEAL IMPLEMENTATION-POLICY AWARENESS TRAINING
1. ON 22 DECEMBER 2010, THE PRESIDENT SIGNED INTO LAW THE ACT
AUTHORIZING THE REPEAL OF 10 USC 654, THE LAW COMMONLY REFERRED TO AS
“DONT ASK, DONT TELL”. SINCE THEN, THE COAST GUARD REPEAL
IMPLEMENTATION TEAM (CGRIT), LED BY THE ASSISTANT CO…MMANDANT FOR
HUMAN RESOURCES, HAS BEEN WORKING CLOSELY WITH THE DEPARTMENT OF
DEFENSE, ACTIVELY PREPARING FOR IMPLEMENTATION. THE CGRIT IS
ENSURING CLOSE ALIGNMENT WITH THE GUIDANCE PROMULGATED BY THE
SECRETARY OF DEFENSE OUTLINING EXPECTATIONS FOR THE MILTARY SERVICES
AS WE PREPARE FOR REPEAL.
2. NO POLICIES OR REGULATIONS WILL CHANGE PRIOR TO REPEAL. THE
CURRENT DADT POLICY REMAINS IN EFFECT. REPEAL WILL NOT TAKE EFFECT
UNTIL 60 DAYS AFTER THE PRESIDENT, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE, AND CHAIRMAN
OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF CERTIFY TO CONGRESS THAT REPEAL CAN
OCCUR IN A MANNER CONSISTENT WITH THE STANDARDS OF MILITARY
READINESS, MILITARY EFFECTIVENESS, UNIT COHESION, AND RECRUITING AND
RETENTION OF THE ARMED FORCES.
3. PREPARATION FOR REPEAL WILL REQUIRE POLICY REVIEW AND REVISIONS -
AND THAT ALL COAST GUARD MEMBERS ARE FULLY UP-TO-SPEED ON THE POLICY
CHANGES, THE OVERARCHING GUIDANCE, AND THE EXPECTATIONS OF CONDUCT IN
A POST-REPEAL COAST GUARD.
4. POLICY AWARENESS TRAINING WILL BEGIN ON MARCH 1, AND WILL BE
PROVIDED TO ALL ACTIVE DUTY MEMBERS, RESERVISTS (SELRES), AND
CIVILIAN SUPERVISORS OF MILITARY MEMBERS. WE WILL USE A BLENDED AND
TIERED APPROACH SO THAT ALL PERSONNEL WILL RECEIVE THE TRAINING
NECESSARY FOR THEIR ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES. TIER LEVELS ARE
A. TIER 1: SENIOR LEADERSHIP AND SUBJECT MATTER EXPERTS WHO MAY
DEAL FREQUENTLY WITH REPEAL QUESTIONS OR ISSUES (FLAG OFFICERS, ALL
MEMBERS OF THE SENIOR EXECUTIVE SERVICE, GOLD AND SILVER BADGE
COMMAND CHIEFS, CHAPLAINS, JUDGE ADVOCATES, WORK-LIFE AND FAMILY
ADVOCACY PERSONNEL, CIVIL RIGHTS SERVICE PROVIDERS, RECRUITERS,
SERVICING PERSONNEL OFFICE SUPERVISORS, AND CGIS AGENTS). TIER 1
PERSONNEL HAVE BEEN PRE-IDENTIFIED BY THEIR PROGRAM MANAGERS AND WILL
RECEIVE ADDITIONAL GUIDANCE VIA EMAIL.
B. TIER 2: ALL COMMANDERS, COMMANDING OFFICERS, AND
C. TIER 3: ALL-HANDS, INCLUDING ACTIVE DUTY, SELRES AND CIVILIAN
SUPERVISORS OF MILITARY MEMBERS. ALL OTHER CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES ARE
ENCOURAGED AND WELCOMED TO ATTEND THESE TRAINING SESSIONS.
D. TRAINING FOR OTHER MEMBERS OF TEAM COAST GUARD: WE ANTICIPATE
BEING ABLE TO OFFER POLICY AWARENESS TRAINING FOR CG AUXILIARY
MEMBERS, DEPENDENTS, AND OTHERS VIA THE INTERNET IN THE NEAR FUTURE.
WE WILL ISSUE MORE INFORMATION AT A LATER DATE. TRAINING IS NOT
REQUIRED FOR THESE MEMBERS, BUT MANY HAVE EXPRESSED INTEREST.
5. FORCECOM WILL LEAD DELIVERY OF THE EDUCATION AND TRAINING. TWO
METHODS OF DELIVERY WILL BE USED:
A. COMPUTER BASED TRAINING (CBT). TIER 1 (SUBJECT MATTER EXPERTS)
AND TIER 2 (UNIT LEADERSHIP) WILL TAKE THE CBT IN ORDER TO PREPARE
FOR INQUIRIES AND ALL-HANDS SESSIONS. COMMANDING OFFICERS AND
OFFICERS IN CHARGE WILL, IN TURN, EDUCATE AND INFORM THEIR PERSONNEL
IN ALL-HANDS SESSIONS. THIS REQUIREMENT CANNOT BE DELEGATED. THE
CBT IS AVAILABLE ON THE LEARNING MANAGEMENT SYSTEM LOCATED ON THE
CGPORTAL (HTTPS://CGPORTAL.USCG.MIL/). NAVIGATE TO THE CBT BY CLICKING
ON LEARNING MANAGEMENT SYSTEM ON THE LEFT MENU. CLICK: COURSE
CATALOG, MANDATED TRAINING, MANDATED TRAINING B, AND THEN SELECT THE
TIER LEVEL REQUIRED. ENROLL IN THE COURSE, THEN NAVIGATE TO MY
ACCOUNT AND SELECT THE DADT TRAINING BY CLICKING GO. ONCE FINISHED,
CBT COMPLETION IS AUTOMATICALLY RECORDED IN THE TRAINING MANAGEMENT
TOOL (TMT) AND COAST GUARD BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE (CGBI) WITHIN 24-48
B. ALL-HANDS (TIER 3) TRAINING. THE MAJORITY OF COAST GUARD MEMBERS
WILL BE INFORMED OF POLICY CHANGES AND LEADERSHIP EXPECTATIONS FROM
THEIR COMMANDING OFFICER OR OFFICER IN CHARGE. IN ORDER TO MINIMIZE
REPORTING REQUIREMENTS THROUGH THE CHAIN OF COMMAND, UNIT TRAINING
OFFICERS WILL RECORD UNIT PERSONNEL COMPLETIONS IN TMT. PERSONNEL AND
UNIT COMPLETION RATES WILL AUTOMATICALLY BE REPORTED AND TRACKED IN
CGBI. ATTENDANCE AT COMMAND FACILITATED DADT POLICY AWARENESS
TRAINING (TIER 3) SHOULD BE MAXIMIZED BY ALL UNITS. BUT SINCE IT MAY
NOT BE POSSIBLE TO REACH 100 PERCENT OF ALL PERSONNEL IN THIS MANNER,
THERE WILL BE AN ADDITIONAL OPPORTUNITY AVAILABLE (AFTER 15 MAY) TO
RECEIVE TIER 3 TRAINING THROUGH THE CBT ON THE LEARNING MANAGEMENT
SYSTEM. PLEASE FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS ABOVE TO ACCESS TIER 3 CBT.
6. CBT FOR TIERS 1 AND 2 WILL BE AVAILABLE BEGINNING 1 MARCH. IT MUST
BE COMPLETED BY 15 MAY. TIER 3 TRAINING SHOULD BE WELL UNDERWAY
ACROSS THE ENTIRE COAST GUARD BY 1 APRIL, (SUBJECT TO A FEW
OPERATIONAL LIMITATIONS), AND WILL BE COMPLETED NO LATER THAN 30
JUNE. MORE INFORMATION AND GUIDANCE WILL BE PROVIDED BETWEEN NOW AND
7. AS MEMBERS OF THE ARMED FORCES, WE HAVE SWORN TO UPHOLD AND DEFEND
THE CONSTITUTION OF THIS GREAT NATION, AND WE WILL DO SO SMARTLY AND
PROFESSIONALLY. AS I STATED IN MY CONGRESSIONAL TESTIMONY, REPEAL OF
“DONT ASK, DONT TELL” IS IN KEEPING WITH OUR CORE VALUES.
8. CGRIT POCS: FOR SPECIFIC QUESTIONS REGARDING THE TRAINING MODULE,
9. RELEASED BY ADMIRAL BOB PAPP, COMMANDANT.
10. INTERNET RELEASE AUTHORIZED.