Fast Take: Examining the legacy left by ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’
Stars and Stripes July 18, 2023
In the previous episode of Military Matters, CBS News’ Jim Axelrod and Jessica Kegu took co-host Rod Rodriguez into their investigation of LGBTQ+ veterans struggling to upgrade their dishonorable discharges stemming from the “don’t ask, don’t tell” era.
In this Fast Take episode, Rodriguez and co-host Jack Murphy discuss their own experiences with “don’t ask, don’t tell,” and look at how “woke” policies and other hot-button cultural issues and opinions from both sides of the political aisle affect the military.
Rodriguez mentioned an incident during “don’t ask, don’t tell” involving a brigade he was stationed with in Germany. A lieutenant in the brigade was accused of homosexual conduct, and the ensuing “witch hunt” created an uncomfortable situation for many of the troops, he said.
“Suddenly people were very interested in each other's sex life,” Rodriguez said. “Leaders are telling you like, ‘Listen, you cannot ask each other whether or not the man to the left or right of you is gay. But if you see something, talk to your leadership.’ And it was just — it was bizarre. It was absolutely the weirdest situation to be in, peacetime, where you're just sitting there like, I don't care if this dude's gay or not. Why are we making … a big deal out of this? But for some folks it was a serious issue.”
Murphy dismissed stories about service members leaving the military because of “woke” policies. A former Army Ranger, Murphy said he heard similar things when women were allowed into Ranger School in 2015.
“There were all these old, crusty Rangers who swore up and down, ‘They lowered standards for these women, and I get it directly from the schoolhouse and my buddy's an RI and he said this,’ ” Murphy said. “I'd see it over and over and over again. I'd contact these guys and say, ‘Can I talk to them? Can you put me in touch with them? I would love to interview these guys, write about those standards being dropped.’ … But every time, ‘Oh, he doesn't want to talk, he doesn't want to jeopardize his career, put his pension on the line.’ And like, what? So you feel they're so passionate about this subject, they're gonna rant about it to you anonymously? What? It doesn't make any sense.”
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A transcript of the episode can be found here.
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