Aaron Goldstein takes issue with the argument that repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” will create unnecessary sexual tension in the armed forces. He writes: “But that argument is predicated on the assumption that because someone is gay thus he or she is automatically attracted to every single member of the same sex.”
Actually, the argument is not predicated on this assumption in any way. Every woman will not be attracted to every man, but introducing into the military women as a group ensured that some of the women will inevitably be attracted to some of the men (and vice versa) over time. It also ensured that men and women would be aware of the possibility of such attraction even where it does not exist. DADT repeal ensures that this element of sexual attraction and tension will be repeated in still more intimate settings and in combat situations.
“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was an attempt — however flawed and unstable — to balance two competing realities: Many individual homosexuals serve honorably and effectively in the miltary even as, all other things being equal, open homosexuality as such is a disruptive force, just as individual women have served honorably and effectively even as their integration has in many respects been a disruptive force. Now instead of trying to avoid the incidence of sexual attraction within the armed forces, there will have to be myriad rules and regulations trying to cope with its consequences. And this latest social innovation will have even greater impact on the conservative Christians who make up a large share of the armed forces.
That said, the eventual demise of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was always predictable. People understand the principle of non-discrimination and sexual self-expression better than they understand the martial culture that best sustains a military force, just as public support for same-sex marriage rises as people increasingly understand non-discrimination and sexual self-expression better than they comprehend the purpose of marriage. The military will muddle through and the broader culture will probably do the same, leading the people who don’t understand why things were ever the way they were to confidently declare victory.