Update: The theme continued at the Air Force Times nearly three weeks later.
The US Navy recently announced (on its continuously updated DADT page) that it had coordinated with Japan to understand that “spouse” in the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) would cover a “same-sex” couple. (Published at the Washington Post, repeated at Stars and Stripes.) As a result,
The Navy [said] in a notice to personnel that it had added Japan to its list of overseas assignments for same-sex couples…The Navy has made only Japan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, available
as overseas assignments for gay couples.
The specifics of that announcement were largely missed or simply viewed as another “victory” by homosexual advocacy groups, including the American Military Partner Association, which
described the Navy’s decision as “welcome news” but noted that the armed forces do not treat same-sex spouses equally at many duty stations abroad.
Oddly, neither the AMPA nor anyone else seems to have noted this “special treatment” for homosexuals in assignments was never supposed to happen.
The Pentagon’s DADT repeal report (formally known as the “Report of the Comprehensive Review of the Issues Associated with a Repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”“) was written by order of the Secretary of Defense to “recommend appropriate changes, if necessary, to existing regulations, policies, and guidance [for DADT] repeal.” The report specifically addressed the issue of overseas assignments, even assignment to countries where homosexuality might be illegal. The report recommended not basing assignment decisions on sexuality [emphasis added]:
The Working Group considered overseas assignments of Service members to countries that criminalize homosexual conduct, or homosexuality in general…To address this, we recommend that the Services ensure that information on host-country laws and related military policies regarding homosexuality and homosexual conduct are included in their standard briefings…We do not recommend imposing restrictions on overseas assignments of gay and lesbian personnel…
To account for the differences in the treatment of same-sex partnerships and family relationships in various U.S. jurisdictions and foreign countries, the Services should make available voluntary counseling to gay and lesbian Service members on these issues.
Further, the Secretary of Defense’s implementation plan (formally known as the “Support Plan for Implementation Report of the Comprehensive Review of the Issues Associated with a Repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”“) — which was written by that same team — again specifically called out that [emphasis added]
There are no restrictions on overseas assignments of gay and lesbian personnel.
If the Department of Defense’s plan for implementing the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was to not restrict overseas assignments, why has the US Navy put restrictions on overseas assignments?
To be clear, this is (presumably) the policy of the Department of Defense, which covers all the services, not just the Navy. While it hasn’t been publicly enshrined in a law or regulation, it formed much of the basis for justifying repeal.
If the published repeal plan isn’t DoD policy, what is?
Why does it matter? Well, there are a lot of other very important details in those same documents — the documents which have the appearance of being inconsistent with the Navy’s current policies. If policies regarding overseas assignments aren’t being followed, what’s the impact to other policy statements in the DADT repeal plan? For example:
Service members will not be required to change their personal views and religious beliefs [about homosexuality]…
The Working Group does not recommend any policy change regarding Service members’ exercise of religious beliefs…
Service members may, in appropriate circumstances and within the limitations of law and policy, express their moral or religious beliefs regarding sexual orientation…
Given recent history on some of these topics, figuring out what is and is not policy is not insignificant.