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The Columbia Law School Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic has submitted a report to Congress showing U.S. allies have managed smooth transitions to having gay and lesbian soldiers serve openly in the military.

Based on extensive research into the experiences of Australia, Canada, Israel, and the United Kingdom, the report, entitled “Open Service and Our Allies: A Report on the Inclusion of Openly Gay and Lesbian Servicemembers in U.S. Allies’ Armed Forces,” concludes that successful transitions to gays and lesbians serving openly involved no change in barracks housing or bathrooms.

“Open Service and Our Allies debunks many myths about the difficulty of transitioning to open service. The report reinforces that ending the military’s exclusion of openly gay servicemembers is not only possible but also beneficial to national security,” said Suzanne B. Goldberg, Professor and Director of the Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic.  In addition, the report found military performance and unit cohesion improved, and discrimination and harassment did not significantly increase.

“We found that the implementation policies for the transition to open service enabled a smooth transition for our allies. We hope that Congress can use these policies as lessons in how to successfully implement the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” said Donna Azoulay ’10.

The report also shows that educational and training programs on sexual orientation, alongside an openness about the relationships of gay and lesbian military personnel, eased the transition to gays serving in most of these countries.  “This report adds practical, nuts-and-bolts information to the current research on how foreign militaries transitioned to open service,” said Swathi Sukumar ’10, a Clinic student who co-drafted the report.

Drawing from its documentation of allies’ efforts, the report makes four specific recommendations to ease the U.S. military’s move to open service:

– Educational and training programs that include sexual orientation
– Strong anti-discrimination policies that provide a clear procedure for handling grievances
– Sexual harassment policies that apply equally to all servicemembers and focus on the inappropriate act rather than the identity of the offender
– Military support of gay pride activities and gay and lesbian affinity groups within the military.

    “We base our recommendations on what we observed as having worked most effectively for our allies’ militaries,” said Jantira Supawong ’10.

    Photo: (AP Photos/Tara Todras-Whitehill)

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    1. […] Law School submitted a report to Congress which found that our allies- Great Britain, Israel, Canada and Australia- didn’t have a problem integrating […]

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