It seems that I write a blog on this subject about once a year. This would be appropriate since I am in North Carolina, a state with one of the highest concentration of military establishments and business. We have two major bases in our state: Camp LeJeune for Marines and Fort Bragg for the Army. In fact in 2011, when the US Figure Skating Nationals were held in Greenboro, NC, Men’s Champion Ryan Bradley,who is always known for choosing numbers that resonate with the home state crowd wherever he competes, skated his winning short program to “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” dressed in appropriate attire (see photo).
In early 2011, I wrote a two piece blog about the demise of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (aka DADT) that Congress passed in late December, 2010. In Part 1 (link), I wrote about why this move was good for the US Military and in the long run would result in a more effective military with the very best of diverse talent. In Part 2 (link) I wrote about the training and work needed ahead to implement a military consistent with the new inclusion policy. Then at the end of 2011, I revisited this issue and wrote a blog on the overall positive impact in the first year after the removal of this discriminatory ban.
Now it is two years later. There have been many positive and heartwarming stories of how the US military has adjusted well to the inclusion of same gender couples. Many of us saw and celebrated over the beautiful article (link) and photoof a male US Marine proposing to his boyfriend at the US White House at the conclusion of his tour of duty. Personally, seeing a loving couple positively glowing in the love for one another warms my heart no matter what the gender mix (man and woman, man and man, woman and woman). Other articles and studies have shown that the much ballyhooed possible morale decline never incurred; in fact studies point to a more effective military. (Link to Hoffington Post article.)
However, even with the positive progress, negative episodes occasionally crop up. One recent example (link to article) happened here in North Carolina when a military spouses group denied membership to the wife of a female Army lieutenant colonel.This illustrates that continued diversity and sensitivity training is required, especially for enterprises associated with and providing services and supplies to the US military. We certainly do not need the hard feelings, negative publicity and public outcry that occurs from these episodes. Fortunately, a later report (link) indicated that so far at least the US Marine Corps has quickly addressed this issue.
Diversity and Inclusion across all sectors of society has a compelling positive rationale and business case, so let’s all continue to push for this same inclusion and the accompanying benefits in the US military.