Unit Cohesion

Unfriendly Fire: How the Gay Ban Undermines the Military and Weakens America

March 1, 2009
Nathaniel Frank
St. Martins Press

This book by Palm Center Senior Research Fellow, Nathaniel Frank, presents the latest research and over a decade of evidence on gay service . Forthcoming, 2009.  read more »

"We're here to defend democracy, not to practice it."

 (This post submitted by Christian Leuprecht) Implicit in this claim is the proposition is an allegedly inherent contradiction: That mounting an effective defence of the democratic way of life and its fundamental values of freedom, equality, and justice requires undemocratic practices that skirt these values.

The Pentagon's Gay Ban is Not Based on Military Necessity

January 1, 2003
Aaron Belkin
Journal of Homosexuality, Volume 41(1), The Haworth Press

Click here for a pdf version of this report.

ABSTRACT. When President Bill Clinton attempted to lift the U.S. military’s ban on gay and lesbian soldiers, Congress reacted by enacting a law that prohibits known homosexuals from serving in the U.S. armed forces. The official justification for the new policy is the unit cohesion rationale, the notion that if known gays and lesbians were allowed to serve, unit cohesion, performance, readiness and morale would decline. The thesis of this paper is that the evidence that advocates of discrimination invoke to support the plausibility of the unit cohesion rationale does not constitute scientifically valid data. Thispaper was delivered originally as a lecture at the Commonwealth Club of California and broadcast subsequently on National Public Radio.

The evidence that advocates of discrimination invoke to support the
plausibility of the unit cohesion rationale does not constitute
scientifically valid data.  read more »

Generational Divide

(This post submitted by Becky Kanis) Lieutenant Dan Choi went back to West Point this past weekend...

Shalikashvili to Opponents of Open Gay Service: Please Get Your Facts Right

General John Shalikashvili, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, published a Washington Post op-ed last week.

Attitudes of Iraq and Afghanistan War Veterans Toward Gay and Lesbian Service Members

October 29, 2009
Bonnie Moradi, Laura Miller
Armed Forces & Society

Click here, to read the full manuscript as published in "Armed Forces and Society."


U.S. policy banning openly gay and lesbian personnel from serving in its military rests on the belief that heterosexual discomfort with lesbian and gay service members in an integrated environment would degrade unit cohesion and readiness. To inform this policy, data from a 2006 survey of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans were analyzed in this study. Views of these war veterans were consistent with prior surveys of military personnel showing declining support for the policy: from about 75 percent in 1993 to 40 percent in this survey. Among the demographic and military experience variables analyzed, comfort level with lesbian and gay people was the strongest correlate of attitudes toward the ban. War veterans indicated that the strongest argument against the ban is that sexual orientation is unrelated to job performance, and that the strongest argument in favor of the ban is a projected negative impact on unit cohesion. However, analyses of these war veterans’ ratings of unit cohesion and readiness revealed that knowing a gay or lesbian unit member was not associated uniquely with cohesion or readiness; instead, the quality of leaders, equipment, and training were the critical factors associated with unit cohesion and readiness.

This paper was first published by the Palm Center in July, 2009.

This paper presents additional analysis of the 2006 Zogby Poll commissioned by the Palm Center.  Data indicated no associations between knowing a lesbian or gay unit member and ratings of perceived unit cohesion or readiness.  read more »

"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and Gender Violence


There is one arena where apparently opponents of gay service and advocates of openly gay service agree. That is on the seriousness and prevalence of sexual and gender violence in the military.  read more »

Report of the General/ Flag Officers' Study Group

July 28, 2008
General/Flag Officers Study Group
Palm Center Whitepaper

July 2008 - A bipartisan study group of senior retired military officers, representing different branches of the service, conducted an in-depth assessment of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.  read more »

Don't Ask, Don't Tell: Debating the Gay Ban in the Military

January 1, 2003
Aaron Belkin, Geoffrey Bateman, editors
Lynne Rienner Publishers

A definitive edited volume of lively debate, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: Debating the Gay Ban in the Military presents the views of the leading scholars on sexual orientation and the military. This new and unprecedented anthology, published on the tenth anniversary of the establishment of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, breaks new ground on U.S. military readiness in a time of war. For the first time, this book brings together a critical mass of experts of different points of view to debate whether the U.S. military’s gay ban is based on military necessity or prejudice.  read more »

A History of the Service of Ethnic Minorites in the U.S. Armed Forces

June 1, 2003
Rhonda Evans

U.S. military has repeatedly been forced to
attenuate the divisions, antagonisms and distrust that have troubled American
culture more broadly. This necessity
has stemmed from the unique position of the armed forces as both a defensive
and a “total” institution in American civic life.  read more »

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