Marines Conduct DADT Repeal Training

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. — Does a straight Marine have to live with a gay Marine? Can a Marine with a same-sex part­ner receive hous­ing allowance? Will being open­ly gay affect recruit­ment, assign­ments or pro­mo­tion?
Ques­tions like these were answered here yes­ter­day, as about 185 Marines with Land­ing Sup­port Com­pa­ny, Com­bat Logis­tics Reg­i­ment 17, 1st Marine Logis­tics Group, con­duct­ed Tier 3 train­ing to learn how the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” pol­i­cy will affect the Marine Corps.

DADT -  Don't Ask, Don't Tell
Marine Corps instruc­tor Maj. Daryl DeS­i­mone speaks to Marines with Land­ing Sup­port Com­pa­ny, Com­bat Logis­tics Reg­i­ment 17, 1st Marine Logis­tics Group, dur­ing Tier 3 “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal train­ing at Camp Pendle­ton, Calif., April 28, 2011.
Marine Corps pho­to by Staff Sgt. Jen­nifer Bro­fer
Click to enlarge

The cur­rent pol­i­cy pro­hibits open­ly gay men and women from serv­ing in the U.S. armed forces. On Dec. 22, 2010, Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma signed a law that set con­di­tions for repeal of the DADT law.

One of the require­ments for repeal is the imple­men­ta­tion of train­ing con­sis­tent with readi­ness and unit cohe­sion, while stress­ing that all ser­vice mem­bers should con­tin­ue to treat each oth­er with dig­ni­ty and respect.

“Marines are still going to be Marines, we’re still going to wear the same uni­form, we’re still going to respect each oth­er and we’re still going to have the same dis­ci­pline,” said Marine Corps Cpl. Vanes­sa Huff, oper­a­tions non­com­mis­sioned offi­cer, Land­ing Sup­port Com­pa­ny, CLR-17, 1st MLG. “How­ev­er, it will be with DADT being repealed.”

Repeal imple­men­ta­tion train­ing was first giv­en to indi­vid­u­als in the Tier 1 group, includ­ing unit chap­lains, judge advo­cates, recruiters and fam­i­ly readi­ness offi­cers. Tier 2 includ­ed com­man­ders, senior enlist­ed advi­sors and civil­ian super­vi­sors of Marines. Tier 3 train­ing will be giv­en to all oth­er Marines, sailors and civil­ian super­vi­sors. The major­i­ty of Marines are expect­ed to com­plete the train­ing by May 31.

The hour-long, one-time-only class is designed to edu­cate Marines on what poli­cies would change after the repeal of DADT –- allow­ing indi­vid­u­als to serve in the mil­i­tary regard­less of sex­u­al ori­en­ta­tion. The class began with a brief intro­duc­tion by the reg­i­men­tal com­man­der, Col. Bruce Nick­le, in which he said he expects a smooth tran­si­tion after the law’s repeal.

“In my mind, this isn’t going to be much of a chal­lenge,” Nick­le said. “Why? We’re Marines, and what do Marines do? Fol­low orders. It’s not going to be any dif­fer­ent. We’ll just con­tin­ue to evolve and con­tin­ue to be the pro­fes­sion­als that we are.”

After the intro­duc­tion, the instruc­tor, Maj. Daryl DeS­i­mone, answered sev­er­al repeal-relat­ed ques­tions, such as “Will I have to live with a gay Marine?” After repeal, bil­let­ing assign­ments will not be made with regard to sex­u­al ori­en­ta­tion.

“You can live with some­body in the bar­racks; you don’t have to be their friend,” said DeS­i­mone, who added that com­man­ders may elect to reas­sign room­mates on a case-by-case basis if it pos­es “too much of a dis­rup­tion for the unit.”

A Marine who mar­ries a per­son of the same gen­der, how­ev­er, will not receive extra ben­e­fits, such as Base Allowance for Hous­ing “with depen­dent,” because a same-sex part­ner does not qual­i­fy under the Defense of Mar­riage Act, DeS­i­mone said.

Anoth­er ques­tion raised was, “What if homo­sex­u­al­i­ty goes against my reli­gion?” Like­wise, Marines retain the right to their reli­gious beliefs, but their con­duct must remain pro­fes­sion­al and they must treat fel­low Marines with dig­ni­ty and respect.

After repeal, sex­u­al ori­en­ta­tion will not bar an indi­vid­ual from join­ing the mil­i­tary or have any impact on assign­ments or pro­mo­tion. What will not change after the repeal, DeS­i­mone stressed, are the Marine Corps’ stan­dards of per­son­al and pro­fes­sion­al con­duct. Also, he added, eval­u­a­tion for pro­mo­tion will con­tin­ue to be based on mer­it, fit­ness and capa­bil­i­ty.

“I just ask that you all remain pro­fes­sion­al, any time you’re faced with sit­u­a­tions where sex­u­al ori­en­ta­tion comes into play, just like you remain pro­fes­sion­al when you’re faced with any oth­er lead­er­ship chal­lenges out there; as long as you do that, we should­n’t have any prob­lems with the Marines,” DeS­i­mone said. “These are new chal­lenges you will face, and we’re going to have to fig­ure that out togeth­er to move for­ward.”

The DADT pol­i­cy will remain in effect until 60 days after the Pres­i­dent, the sec­re­tary of defense, and the chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff all cer­ti­fy that the require­ments for repeal have been met.

The train­ing, Huff said, pro­vides the infor­ma­tion need­ed to ensure a smooth tran­si­tion. “As long as our lead­er­ship is involved, our junior troops will have what they need in order for this to be a smooth tran­si­tion,” Huff said. “When I’m out in com­bat, what’s going to mat­ter is that the Marine to my left and my right will save my life, and I will save theirs.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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