WARNER ROBINS -- Just more than three months after the repeal of the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy went into effect, there have been no issues at Robins Air Force Base related to the change, the base command chief said.
Chief Master Sgt. Patrick Bowen, 78th Air Base Wing command chief, said last week there have been no complaints filed related to same-sex relationships. He also said no one has requested same-sex housing or a same-sex wedding in the base chapel.
President Barack Obama signed the law repealing the ban in December 2010, but it included language that it would not go into effect until military leaders certified the change would not affect readiness. Then there would be a 60-day waiting period. The repeal officially went into effect Sept. 20.
“I think it has gone exceptionally well,” Bowen said. “Our personnel have handled it with dignity and respect. They’ve handled better than we ever anticipated.”
Prior to 1993, the U.S. military banned gays from serving in the military, and recruits were asked about sexual orientation. Then President Clinton issued the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, which allowed gays to serve but they could not do so openly.
It was considered a compromise between those who supported gay rights and those who adhered to the previous military view that homosexuality was incompatible with the unique nature of armed service.
In preparation for the repeal of that policy, training was done that focused on the same concepts the military uses to ensure cohesiveness of a force made up of people from widely diverse backgrounds, Bowen said.
“Just stick with treating people with dignity and respect, the way you would want to be treated,” is how Bowen summarized the training.
He said the airmen he has spoken with about the change haven’t considered it much of an issue.
The base also has had a unique challenge in that most of the workers are civilians, and many of the 6,000 military personnel on the base are supervised by civilians. He said the civilians also have handled it well, and there haven’t been any issues on that front.
“They have embraced it just like the military from what I have seen,” he said.
To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.