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Marine Corps Book Chronicles 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Demise

Posted: 03/20/2012 6:37 pm Updated: 03/26/2012 12:31 pm

Marines

WASHINGTON -- Tuesday marked six months since the repeal of the military's "Don't ask, don't tell" policy. On the same day, the Marine Corps University Press released the military's first official book on the end of the policy and its effect on the military.

Titled "The End of Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the volume includes stories from gay and straight members of the military as well as articles and studies on the policy's effect. The message, according to Tammy Schultz, a professor at the Marine Corps War College who co-edited the book with journalist J. Ford Huffman, was clear: The repeal has largely been a non-issue.

"This is the first book of its kind on DADT or any other similar topic, such as desegregation, at the time of that policy’s implementation in 1948," said Schultz.

The Marine Corps has had perhaps the rockiest time of any of the military services in repealing the ban on gays serving openly. Marine Commandant Gen. John Amos told Congress in 2010 that the repeal could harm his service. "Mistakes and inattention or distractions cost Marines lives,” Amos said. “That’s the currency of this fight." Polls conducted around the time of the repeal also showed that Marines opposed the policy change at higher rates than their counterparts in other services.

But Schultz, a professor of strategic studies at the Marine Corps War College, argued that the book's release is proof that the Marines, along with other services, had moved "smartly to implement the new law." Amos said last year that he is pleased with how the repeal has gone, while the New York Times reported positively on Marine efforts to recruit gays.

"I believe the demise of DADT will quickly become a non-event, and the services as a whole will get on with the business at hand: Defeating the enemies of our country," wrote retired Marine Col. Brendan Kearney in one of the book's essays. Kearney's son Matt also served in the Marine Corps, and helped convince his father to support the repeal.

Schultz said she believes the book detailed a relatively smooth compliance with the new law. "That is not to say that challenges don’t remain ahead, and our book details some of those. But the U.S. military can more than handle it," she said.

"The critics cannot have it both ways," said Schultz. "Either we have the most professional force in the world that has handled the repeal as professionally as other militaries, or we don’t have a professional force. I obviously believe the former."

UPDATE 2:27 pm 3/22/12: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Matt Kearney is gay. Also, the opening quote in the story was incorrectly attributed to J. Ford Huffman instead of Tammy Schultz.

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