DADT Repeal One Year Later: Study Reveals No Gay Orgies Yet

A news headline many of us may have missed last week was the announcement that a research study coming out of the Williams Institute at UCLA found that 12 months after the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT), there have been no negative consequences of any type. Researchers gathered data from generals and admirals who originally opposed the repeal; they interviewed professional opponents of the repeal including various watchdog organizations; and they interviewed active-duty service members from every branch of the military. The researchers also observed military units directly and collected survey data from these units, and they analyzed survey data collected from independent outside groups. When all of these factors were studied and analyzed, the data revealed no negative impact of repealing DADT. There was no evidence to suggest that the repeal undermined recruiting efforts, lowered morale, or negatively impacted troop readiness. In fact, there was evidence to suggest that the repeal actually improved trust and cohesion among troops.

At a time when we constantly debate the issue of homosexuality, these research findings seem particularly relevant. Just a couple weeks ago, at the Republican National Convention, we saw these words added to the party platform: [We] “reject the use of the military as a platform for social experimentation…[We will carry out an] “objective and open-minded review of the current Administration’s management of military personnel policies and will correct problems with appropriate administrative, legal, or legislative action.” In other words, we will make every effort to undo the repeal and put things back the way they were, but we can’t just come out and say that because a growing majority of Americans support the repeal of DADT.

We have all heard about the moral degradation of being gay, about how it tears away at the fabric of American morality, undermines our religious convictions, and strips us of the very essence of what it means to be American. I remember when one person told me with all seriousness that if the repeal goes through we could very well see gay orgies break out amongst the ranks. We hear these kinds of statements, but these claims continue to be untested theories. Finally we have a scientific study to address some of these concerns.

In 2011, you couldn’t walk past a newspaper stand, sit in a waiting room, or browse the news on-line without being inundated with story after story related to the pending repeal. Every political pundit from Sean Hannity to Rachel Maddow was talking about it, as were their casts of political pundits. Every news source was obsessed with the question, “What impact will this have on the military?” We now have an answer: none.

I did some sleuthing on-line to determine what level of coverage this UCLA-based study received. Of the four major networks, it appears only NBC covered the story. ABC, CBS, and FOX did not report any of the findings. CNN was not much better. Although CNN did print a story on the study’s findings on-line, one would have to first find the “Security Clearance” section on CNN’s website to access it. To give you an idea of how little traffic this part of the website gets, the article received eight comments from CNN readers. To help put this in perspective, the current front page article on has almost 5,000 comments posted. To find virtually any mention of this study, one has to visit a progressive political website or a blog like this one.

If the findings of this study do somehow find the light of day, I’m curious to know how opponents of the repeal will respond to the news. Will it change their minds on the issue? Will they soften on their position to keep gays from serving openly? Will it cause them to assess their personal opinions on other gay rights issues such as gay marriage and gay adoption?

Unfortunately, I get the feeling we already know the answers to these questions. Most conservatives, certainly the talking heads on TV, will not bat an eyelash. They will have some reason to discount the research, either saying the researchers were biased, or that academia always has a liberal slant, or that 12 months is not enough time to truly assess the long-term consequences of such a repeal. However, if the research found the opposite–that the repeal did result in negative outcomes–they would most likely be leading with this story.

The take home message for me is that we must sometimes do what the media does not. We need to remind people of the science. Every time we hear John McCain tell us about decreased troop effectiveness; every time we hear a relative at Thanksgiving dinner tell us about lowered morale; every time we see a guy on Facebook posting that gay orgies are about to break out on military bases around the world, we need to remind them that the evidence does not support their beliefs.

– Nathan


5 Responses to “DADT Repeal One Year Later: Study Reveals No Gay Orgies Yet”

  1. Nick (Brown) Conroy Says:

    Great post as always, I guess i didn’t realize it didn’t get wide coverage as I usually read MSNBC.


  2. I don’t always link to the Huffington Post. But when I do, this is what I link to:
    Paragraph 17: “The main downside, Peters said, is that the Pentagon doesn’t officially recognize same-sex couples when allocating medical coverage, housing and travel allowances, and other benefits.”
    This brand of discrimination will probably get fixed — in an overdue manner, as always — after same-sex marriage is broadly legalized. DADT has been a wild success, but it didn’t solve everything when it comes to gay servicemen and women.

    • If I was a republican, I would cling to the statistic from the report,

      “8.4% of soldiers surveyed say they would be less likely to re-enlist due to repealing of DADT, whereas only 3.3% of soldiers surveyed said they’d be more likely to re-enlist.”


      Of course, when asked a different question of, “Would you re-enlist, period,” there’s actually a 2% positive difference from 2011 to 2012. Still, the argument could be made.

      I would extrapolate that at least 8.4% of soldiers are homophobic bigots.

      • Sean Hannity could also hang his hat on, “13.7% of heterosexuals polled said repeal of DADT lowered morale, vs 5.8% reporting positive.

        or there’s always,

        “In other cases, however, expressions of anti-LGB sentiment were more severe. In response to an open-ended question asking LGBT troops to identify and describe any experience of discrimination after DADT repeal, 11% of respondents mentioned disturbing incidents.89”

        of course the study goes on to explain these stats away. But you can’t expect news anchor to objectively read this stuff. I’m actually shocked that they aren’t pulling stats like this and running segments against Obama and his military-hating DADT-repealing.

        That’s all for now…

  3. Having been in the military for 17+ when this came out, it was really a non-issue when it was implemented. Most of us knew already who was going to “come out”. We just went back to our day to day work and nothing really changes. It was all the pundits from outside the military that had made such a big deal.

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