Task Force Judgement on "Adequate Progress"
Task Force: Ms. Sarah E. Gallop; Professor Stephen C. Graves, Task Force Chair; Professor Kenneth R. Manning; Mr. Alan E. Pierson; Professor Lisa A. Steiner; Mr. Frank P. Tipton; Professor J. Kim Vandiver; Professor William B. Watson
Response to the 1990 Faculty Resolution
As mandated by the 1990 faculty resolution, the Task Force has determined whether or not changes in military policy concerning gays constitute "adequate progress toward the elimination of the DOD policy on sexual orientation."
Clearly, there have been policy changes from 1990 to 1996. The Task Force recognizes with favor that the new policies forbid DOD scholarship applications and ROTC commanders from asking applicants about their sexual orientation. In addition, commanders are now forbidden to initiate investigations concerning sexual orientation based solely upon their own suspicions or those of others. These new policies constitute de jure improvements from the old policy, by banning "witch-hunts" and providing minimum standards for what constitutes "credible evidence" of homosexual conduct.
Yet "homosexual conduct" - ranging from hand-holding to consensual sexual relations between two people of the same sex - remains outlawed for military personnel in off-duty, private settings. ROTC cadets  may be discharged and their funding rescinded if other cadets present credible evidence of homosexual conduct to their commander. A cadet may also be discharged and his or her funding rescinded if he or she makes a statement revealing his or her sexual orientation to a commander, unless the presumption of homosexual conduct is successfully rebutted. Thus, the "don't ask, don't tell, don't pursue" policy does not address the core issue of the ban against gays in the military.
In addition, the DOD distinction between identity and conduct obfuscates rather than clarifies. When a person states or implies his or her sexual orientation, he or she is not revealing any information about his or her life that might be considered inappropriate or unprofessional. DOD recognizes this distinction for heterosexuals, but unfairly places on any statement or implied statement of homosexual or bisexual orientation a presumption of sexual conduct in that person's private life. The distinction also fails to recognize the personal costs incurred by keeping silent on the issue of sexual orientation.
Moreover, implementation of "don't ask, don't tell, don't pursue" appears to be inconsistent. As we write this report, the Secretary of Defense is investigating numerous claims of commander violations of the new policies.  The alleged infractions include inappropriate questioning of sexual orientation, and inappropriate investigations into sexual conduct. These allegations suggest that the de facto policies are inherently problematic and possibly damaging to cadets' interests.
Task Force Judgment on "Adequate Progress"
While there may be room for debate on whether significant progress has been made, the Task Force is unanimous on the question of adequacy: there has not been adequate progress toward the elimination of the DOD policy on sexual orientation.
 For the purposes of this report, "cadet" refers to ROTC cadet or midshipman.
 "Perry Probes Report of Harassment of Gays." (Reuters) Boston Globe, February 28, 1996. The report to which the article refers is "Conduct Unbecoming: Second Annual Report on 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Pursue,' " Servicemember's Legal Defense Network, February 27, 1996.
MIT Task Force Homepage
Send comments to email@example.com. Although we cannot reply to all who write to us, we do promise to read every letter.
MIT Home Page