DoD Anti-Discrimination Policy Must be Updated


With the news yesterday that the Marine Corps is ordering all spouse clubs on their bases to either accept gay spouses or take their business and operations off post, the service took a step in the direction of spouse equality that no other service or even the DoD itself has had the bravery to do — they redefined “discrimination” among their ranks to include sexual orientation.

That the Corps is the first to take this step is interesting for a few reasons. First, their leader, Gen. James F. Amos, was the only service chief to tell Congress that he considered the plan to lift the policy known as Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, which blocked gays from serving openly, was a bad idea. This article even goes so far as to call him “the face of opposition to lifting the ban.”

Gen. Amos was also among the first to publicly admit that the end of the policy was a “non-event.” Because just like with the end of almost all rules based on prejudice, when the wall of division was torn down, the fears weren’t realized. They weren’t even noticed.

But that no other service has bothered with this isn’t surprising, even though it has most certainly been a problem. Why? Because the DoD’s overall leaders haven’t either. From the story on

“The Defense Department has not issued similar guidance covering all service branches, and for now is taking the stance that the Fort Bragg spouses club is conforming with the existing rules because the non-discrimination clause does not extend to sexual orientation.”

I realize we’re dealing with legal wrangling in the above paragraph. They are saying that, technically, sexual orientation is not included in that policy. Technically, they can’t enforce that as non-discrimination because it isn’t spelled-out.

Solution? Change the policy.

Which doesn’t seem like it would be that difficult. Except that it is. The DoD seems to always been so far behind the times that the issue in every other circle has left them in the dust. But gay rights is not one of those topics. According to this report, there are still 10 states that do not protect the rights of gay and transgender employees to be hired in private companies — they only protect them in public employment at varying levels.

Why? Because there are still fears of the unknown — of how gays will interact with the rest of society.

In the classic “The Nature of Prejudice,” author Gordon Allport talks about some of the cause of prejudice being fear of the unknown. And that is most certainly the case with the DoD’s non-discrimination policy. Rather than make the decision to pony-up and give it a try, it’s easier and less scary to just keep things as they always were.

Easier, but wrong.

About the Author

Amy Bushatz
Amy is the editor in chief of’s spouse and family blog A journalist by trade, Amy also covers spouse and family news for where she is the managing editor of spouse and family content. An Army wife and mother of two, Amy has been featured as a subject matter expert on, NPR, Fox News, NBC, CBS, ABC and BBC as well as in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. Follow her on twitter @amybushatz.

12 Comments on "DoD Anti-Discrimination Policy Must be Updated"

  1. Maanuel Jaramillo | January 10, 2013 at 11:37 pm |

    Marriage = One Man + One Woman…. PERIOD!!

  2. John Murray | January 11, 2013 at 7:52 am |

    If I form a spouses club and we do not use base facilities, but say meet in my home (on base housing) and we do not accept gay spouses, I don't think the military really has any authority to tell me what to do. They can not support me, but beyond that, as individual spouses they can't really do anything. I

    • You are correct. As a spouce the military has no real juristicion over you but your actions have direct impact on the Military member… Like in driving or bouncing checks. But you would have to ask your self what impact your actions would have on your spouce. As a military member they are not allowed to participate in, or knowingly support orginizations that are discriminatory. It would come down to a UCMJ discussion as well as (if in a position of leadership) creating a hostile work enviroment.

  3. When will people get with the times? If a man and a man, or a woman and a woman love each other, how is it harming you? I WILL take the last step and call you bigots. Discrimination is discrimination.

  4. Very hypercritical of the Marine Corps to require spouses clubs to accept gay spouses as members in good standing when none of the services do! Yes, you can now be openly gay and serve in the military and yes some states allow gay marriages, but NONE of the branches of military service recognize the gay spouse. Until the services recognize these spouses by granting them a military ID, the spouse clubs should not be required to do anything! Most clubs would not have a problem accepting a gay spouse. What they do have an issue with is accepting members who are not recognized by the military services. What''s next…. forcing clubs to accept live in girlfriends? Leave it to Gen Amos to lead the charge down this blind path!

    • What is wrong with accepting live-in girlfriends? They go through deployments and TDYs and training and school just as we wives do. If a soldiers dates 10 different women/men within a short period, I'd be wary of having each of them join the club, but live-ins tend to be a little more than just a date. Most of them support our military just as much – and some even more – as spouses. As for same-sex partners, why on earth shouldn't they be able to join? Same goes for them, if they support our service members and want to be part of a club, they should have the right to join.

  5. gokumonster | January 15, 2013 at 9:33 pm |
  6. thank goodness not everyone in the military spouse community has bought into this social experiment. Makes me sad for our mil spouse clubs. They will go down hill.. and fast :(

  7. What the hell are you talking about? Most women do not reveal everything about their private lives in groups of other women. Most women do this with very close friends. Also, lesbians and gays are not predators and they do not force others to participate in same sex relations with them. If someone is truly heterosexual, they will find the idea of same sex relations repulsive and will not cave in to pressure. Do you live under a rock?

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