- Hardcover: 200 pages
- Publisher: Lynne Rienner Pub (February 1, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1588261212
- ISBN-13: 978-1588261212
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 5 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,771,498 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Don't Ask, Don't Tell: Debating the Gay Ban in the Military
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"An important contribution to the literature on lesbians and gays in the U.S. military.... From beginning to end, it is well-written, well-organized, and tightly conceived in every way." - Craig A. Rimmerman, Hobart and William Smith Colleges
About the Author
Aaron Belkin is assistant professor of political science and director, Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military, at the University of California, Santa Barbara (CSSMM). He is coeditor of Counterfactual Thought Experiments in World Politics. Geoffrey Bateman is assistant director of CSSMM.
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The text is broken down into eight primary sections: (1) an introduction, (2) a historical overview, (3) an inquiry into whether or not the ban preserves soldiers' privacy, (4) an inquiry into whether or not the ban helps unit cohesion, (5) a discussion of the experience of foreign militaries, (6) a look at the cost, both financial and human, of the ban, (7) a pair of talks by two openly gay servicemen, and finally (8) an inquiry into the future of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.
I found the book to be interesting and often thought-provoking. The substantial historical overview (pp. 9-49) discusses important studies of this issue, as well as significant court cases (Matlovich, Berg, Ben-Shalom, Steffan, etc.) that have challenged the ban. The discussion on foreign militaries features perspectives from New Zealand, Australia, the UK, and Israel. At times the discussion is quite moving, such as when activist Dixon Osburn discusses the impact of the ban on gay military people. Particularly fascinating are the personal stories of the two openly gay servicemen, U.S. Army officer Steve May and Royal Navy sailor Rob Nunn; both men show a human side to this controversy.
Although this is a valuable text, I was struck by how dated it feels. Because the conference predates the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are not addressed; both of these military campaigns are, in my opinion, critically relevant to the book's topic on multiple levels. Also ironic is the fact that the British ban on gays serving openly had been lifted less than a year before this conference; as I write this review that policy change is now over five years old. Still, the discussion is intriguing, and at their best the participants challenge assumptions and encourage genuine critical thinking on this very controversial issue.
I was also struck by the excellent historical overview to the U.S. military's policies prior to "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," which shows the hypocrisy of the U.S. military and its ability--if it were to decide to do it--to lift the ban.
Overall, the volume balances compelling personnal narratives about the ban with an objective eye to the rich body of research that has been done on this issue.