SAN DIEGO (CBS/AP) — Two soldiers kissing off-duty. Supporting gay pride parades. Locker room banter.
The latest round of training to prepare U.S. military officers to accept the lifestyles of openly-gay soldiers began on Thursday at Camp Pendleton and around the U.S. ahead of a planned repeal of the policy known as “don’t ask, don’t tell”.
Members of the 1st Marine Logistics Group reported to class to receive training material that challenges Marines on their reactions to scenarios that range from seeing a fellow soldier “hanging around” a gay bar to hearing locker room jokes from others who refuse to shower in front of gays.
There is nothing wrong with “hanging around” a gay bar, the materials state. The officer who witnesses the loud locker-room banter aimed at gays and lesbians should remind the Marines any discrimination or harassment is inappropriate.
A Marine who spots two men in his battalion kissing off-duty at a shopping mall should react as if he were seeing a man and woman, according to the military.
Likewise, if he turns on the television news to see a fellow Marine dressed as a civilian and marching in a parade with a banner that reads, “Support Gays and Lesbians in the Military!” he should accept it as a free right of expression.
As the military prepares to end the 17-year-old “don’t ask, don’t tell” that would pave the way for homosexual officers to serve openly, Marines and officers throughout the U.S. Armed Forces are being confronted with a wide range of situational training intended to ease the transition for instructors and other personnel.
The repeal goes into effect 60 days after the president, defense secretary and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff certify that lifting the ban won’t hurt the military’s ability to fight.
“These changes are about policy,” states briefing material for Marine instructors. “The policy is about adherence to orders and behavior, and not about beliefs.”
For those who oppose the new policy, the Marine Corps says it doesn’t expect anyone to change their personal beliefs. Still, everyone must follow orders.
“You remain obligated to follow orders that involve interaction with others who are gay or lesbian, even if an unwillingness to do so is based on strong, sincerely held moral or religious beliefs,” the training material states.
A top-notch recruiter who opposes the new policy cannot refuse a promising applicant on grounds of sexual orientation but might be considered for another assignment and, at the discretion of the Navy secretary, may be granted early discharge.
Chaplains who preach at base chapels that homosexuality is a sin are entitled to express their religious beliefs during worship.
The Marines expect to finish training on the new policy by June 1, Gen. James Amos, the Marine Corps commandant, testified in Congress earlier this month.
Back in June 2009, Rose Roy of Beaumont, Texas — an allegedly gay sailor — was found murdered on base at Camp Pendleton. Authorities say he was shot three times, had his hands and feet bound, his mouth gagged, and body burned.
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