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It delved into the historical record of integration of blacks into the military, public opinions and health risks and unit disruption. It also incorporated the findings of scientific literature on group cohesion, sexuality and relevant health and legal issues and their implementation. Only one policy would fulfill the President's directive. It would consider sexual orientation as not inherent in determining who may serve in the military. It would set a standard of professional conduct for all personnel in the pursuit of good order and discipline. And it would be enforced in every level of the chain of command so as to maintain effective unit performance (Rostker et al.).
Policy for Ending Discrimination
This policy binds all service members to the same standard of professional behavior (Rostker et al., 2000). It draws upon actual conduct, not behavior from presumed sexual orientation. It elicits tolerance and restraint for the good of the group without endorsing homosexual preference or lifestyle. The Standard of Professional Conduct has four features. The first requires all members of the military services to conduct themselves in ways, which accrue to good order and discipline. These include respect and tolerance towards others. While heterosexuals are asked to tolerate homosexual behavior, the military environment is not the appropriate setting for it. The second feature is that inappropriate conduct could undermine order and discipline, and hence service members should avoid such conduct. The third is a list of inappropriate conduct. This list includes personal harassment, abuse of authority, show of affection and explicit talks about sexual practices or experience. And the four is the observance of these standards by leaders of every level with the end-view of maintaining maximum performance (Rostker et al.).
Lifting the ban on homosexuals would require the modification of the enclosed Directive 1332.14 on administrative separations (Rostker et al., 2000). If sexual orientation were not a determinant on who may serve, neither would decisions on assignment, pay, military specialty or benefits be a determinant. And in issues, such as homosexual marriages or granting benefits to homosexual partners, there would be no need for the Department of Defense to change the current policy or be the lead federal agency to address the issues. How policy change is implemented instead determines how it will be accepted with minimal disruptions (Rostker et al.).
The RAND research team identified five key elements to an effective implementation strategy (Rostker et al., 2000). The first is the clear and consistent communication of the change in policy from the top. Senior military leaders frequently oppose change. Others will need to make their acceptance and commitment to it known to insure successful implementation. The troops must understand that behavioral dissent is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. The second is the immediate implementation of the change. Experimenting or uncertainty will invite continued resistance from its opponent. The third is the emphasis on conduct rather than tolerance or sensitivity. Behavior should be consistent with a change in policy and remain that way. The fourth is the leadership's constant messages of reassurance to the troops. This is needed in the presence of other stressful experiences. The troops must be made to feel that the change in policy does not challenge traditional values and create unnecessary disruption. And the fifth is empowerment of leaders at all levels to implement the new policy. Training may be called for to clear understanding and rapid implementation a monitoring process should also be put into place to detect problems early in the process and resolve immediately. The RAND team believed that this implementation strategy promised high probability of ending discrimination involving sexual orientation. It is practicable and realistic and insures that unit cohesion and performance can be preserved at the same time (Rostker et al.).
Summary and Conclusion
Homosexuality bias, especially in the military, has long existed. The U.S. Articles of War of 1916 expressly prohibited it until the initial but failed attempt by then Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton to lift the ban. A compromise was reached with the 1993 "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, which allowed homosexuals to get enlisted as long as they kept quiet about their gender preference. Times have changed and now 75% of Americans favor the enlisting of gays in the military. In his first State of the Union address, President Obama vowed to work on the lifting of the ban. He set Defense Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen to the task of repealing the "Don't Ask" policy. Former President Clinton and his Defense Secretary Aspin in 1993 commissioned the RAND National Defense Research Institute to prepare a comprehensive study on the issue. The Institute came up with a policy that would end homosexual discrimination in the military in a practicable, realistic way and insure troop cohesion with minimal disruptions. Society now accepts gays in all its ranks as equals. A workable policy can replace the current one to respond to the new public sentiment. A nation built on the principle of equality needs to recognize the fact and adapt to it by introducing appropriate changes for a stronger, more cohesive military.#
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