In This Review

Out in Force: Sexual Orientation and the Military
Out in Force: Sexual Orientation and the Military
Edited by Gregory M. Herek, Jared B. Jobe, and Ralph M. Carn
University Of Chicago Press, 1996, 337 pp

This is at once a collection of analytical essays and a work of policy advocacy; unfortunately, the latter dominates the former. Some of the studies (for example, on foreign militaries' policies) are quite good; others are tendentious. The authors, including some Defense Department analysts, generally share the view that restrictions such as the "don't ask, don't tell, don't pursue" policy on gays in the military are retrogade, unwarranted, and doomed. The arguments for this position are varied, and include reference to the experiences of other professions, the practices of foreign countries, opinion data, and, to a problematic degree, mere assertion. A more balanced approach might have included not only some dissenting views, but essays by operational commanders and military historians, who have a different vantage point. Psychologists and sociologists are not the sole or necessarily the best judges of policy choices bearing on military discipline and combat effectiveness.