Washington -- Yesterday, Marine Corps Commandant James Conway told Military.com that he "would not ask our Marines to live with someone who is homosexual if we can possibly avoid it." He added, "In this case, I would want to reserve the right of a Marine that thinks he or she wouldn't want to [share a room with a homosexual]. And again that's the overwhelming ﾃ number of people that say that they wouldn't like to do so." The Military.com article, including audio, can be viewed here.
This statement came on the same day that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates released new common sense regulations that will result in fewer investigations and discharges under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) and reprimanded the Army's Pacific Commander Lt. Gen. Benjamin Mixon for publicly advocating against repeal of DADT in violation of military regulations.
"General Conway is off base and out of line. Gays and lesbians are serving today in the Marines and sharing rooms with other service members with no problems whatsoever," said Jarrod Chlapowski, a former Army linguist who chose not to reenlist due to DADT. "General Conway's unsubstantiated assumptions about the views of Marines is contradicted by hard facts-- 73% of men and women in uniform say they are personally comfortable in the presence of lesbians and gays and 25% of troops in Afghanistan or Iraq knew a member of his or her unit who is lesbian or gay."
"General Conway is selling our Marines short by assuming they share his outdated and biased views about lesbians and gays," said Chlapowski.
UCLA's Williams Institute estimates that there are approximately 66,000 gay or lesbian service members currently in our Armed Forces.
Nearly three in four troops (73%) say they are personally comfortable in the presence of lesbians and gays (Zogby International and the Michael D. Palm Center, 2006).
One in four (25%) U.S. troops who served in Afghanistan or Iraq knows a member of his or her unit who is lesbian or gay. More than 55% of the troops who know of a lesbian or gay colleague said the presence of lesbians or gays in their unit is well-known by others (Zogby International, 2006).
All published Pentagon studies that address the topic, including the 1993 Rand Report, conclude that there should be no special restrictions on service by lesbian and gay personnel.
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