"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was only repealed four days ago, but already the United States military has amplified its efforts to focus on recruiting gays and lesbians to serve in the armed forces.
From gay community centers to college campuses, military recruiters are taking advantage of the end to the ban on openly gay men and women serving in the military by spreading the word about how they can serve.
On Tuesday, the first day of the post-DADT military, several members of the U.S. Marine Corps were invited to set up a table at the Dennis R. Neill Equality Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. During the day, several Marines recruiters set up shop and spoke with people who dropped into the center about serving in the military.
The New York Times reported:
The Marines were the service most opposed to ending the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, but they were the only one of five invited branches of the military to turn up with their recruiting table and chin-up bar at the center Tuesday morning. Although Marines pride themselves on being the most testosterone-fueled of the services, they also ferociously promote their view of themselves as the best. With the law now changed, the Marines appear determined to prove that they will be better than the Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard in recruiting gay, lesbian and bisexual service members.
The Marines weren't incredibly successful at the center, as only a few people spoke at length with the recruiters, but the fact that the military's presence was encouraged at the center is significant - and troublingly so. It shows that DADT wasn't just repealed in order to allow current members of the military to serve openly; it was also repealed to broaden the population of people who are eligible to join the military.
The death of DADT has also been used as a reason to allow military recruiters and ROTC programs (Reserve Officers' Training Corps) back onto college campuses. For years, some college campuses refused to allow military recruiters to work and speak on their campuses, arguing that the discriminatory DADT policy was in direct conflict with their schools' non-discrimination policies regarding sexual orientation. Now, with that conflict resolved, recruiters are being welcomed back.
On Tuesday, for example, Harvard University welcomed back the U.S. Navy's ROTC program for the first time in 40 years. In 1971, the university significantly restricted its ROTC program due to Vietnam War-era tensions, and it continued the restrictions after DADT was implemented in 1993, arguing that the policy did not align with Harvard's anti-discrimination clauses.
With that roadblock demolished, Harvard president Drew Faust said she was happy to welcome the ROTC back on Tuesday, in a ceremony that alluded to the further amplification of military recruitment. Boston.com reports:
The event, which unfolded with dozens of cadets and officers in their dress whites, happened the same day the US government formally ended the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell'' policy that barred gay and lesbian members of the military from openly acknowledging their sexuality. Harvard considered the policy discriminatory, and Faust had cited it as the major obstacle to revitalizing ROTC at the school.
Earlier this year, Vermont Law School and the William Mitchell College of Law (in St. Paul, Minn.) made similar decisions, revising their restrictions on military recruiters because of the repeal of DADT.
Other colleges that had previously limited ROTC programs and military recruitment efforts due to DADT may also be planning to relax those restrictions - or do away with them altogether. Yale University and Columbia University, for instance, have plans to extend formal recognition to ROTC, and other schools may follow suit.
Much like the active recruitment of LGB individuals at the LGBT center in Tulsa, the elimination of restrictions to recruitment on college campuses is evidence of the broader impact of DADT repeal. It has removed a clear instance of discrimination against gay, lesbian and bisexual individuals, yes, but it has also opened up a new demographic of people for the U.S. military to include in its recruitment efforts.