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December 19, 2007

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Well, it would make things awkward when they are instructed to "sound off like you've got a pair"...

When I write diaries at DailyKos about this issue it always seems to press some unconscious buttons with people; even ones who absolutely know better, which I find fascinating. But I haven't heard the "heterosexualism before national security" line and it's a good one. I go the other way: the military considers 'criminals' to be more moral than upstanding citizens who are gay.

General Pace saying admitting gays was rewarding them for their immorality was also insulting. I had always thought we were rewarding them for their patriotism and willingness to die for their country. But if we are keeping out recruits who engage immoral but nonetheless legal behavior, then why stop at gays? I imagine the same crowd considers abortion murder. What's the military's policy on female recruits who've had an abortion? How bout sex before marriage? That's immoral right? Hymen checks for everyone!

These are the morals we're spreading throughout the world?

Who wants to bet that some Vietnam era Senator had a son with an undescended testicle?

Among soldiers who experience the sort of constant proximity associated with combat, an undescended testicle could result in general personal derision of the afflicted solider, and so result in a loss of unit cohesion.

(It makes as much sense as the ban on gays, doesn't it?)

But what about eunuchs, are they allowed? I think maybe the army have taken over bits of Leviticus 21 on the symbolic purity of priests: 'no one who has a blemish shall draw near [the altar], a man blind or lame, or one who has a mutilated face or a limb too long, or a man who has an injured foot or an injured hand, or a hunchback, or a dwarf, or a man with a defect in his sight or an itching disease or scabs or crushed testicles.'

I was reading a blurb today in the current Rolling Stone Magazine that the Pentagon tried to come up with some sort of quick-acting hormonal spray to be let loose over enemy troops which would cause them to pay too much loving attention to each other and impair their fighting abilities.

I'm thinking they tested it on Republican officeholders and young college Republicans, judging from the news this past year. It didn't work. The subjects exhibited all of the predicted physical contact but kept right on liking war in their belligerent way.

Well, from a distance, so maybe it had some effect. It would have been funny if the only effect it had was that the enemy troops made attractive slipcovers for the seats in their armored personnel testical carriers, and then kicked our butts.

At any rate, it sounds more enjoyable than the neutron bomb, which destroyed testicles even if they hunkered down in a fortified building.

It is commonly known among battle-hardened men that one's testicles will migrate into one's abdomen as a physical response to sheer fright.

In fact, Sean Hannity's testicles hid inside Ann Coulter's abdomen one day when a car backfired outside the FOX studios.


I think the idea behind the absurd rules on sexual conditions is a mixture of ritual purity and insurance maths. What you want is ritual purity, if only unconsciously. After this, you rationalize it with the idea that sexual dysfunctions may be signs of bad overall health, which could lead to higher VA and active service health care costs.

BTW, I've served in a military, albeit not in the U.S. I don't remember ever discussing the size or form of a fellow soldier's testicles or hearing such discussion.

The only thing on the list that makes a bit of sense is unsually strong menstrual bleedings because that could be a sign of malfunctioning of the blood clotting system (like in male bleeders).
Persons without genitals would be imo the better soldiers because those parts are a bit sensitive.
Lacking or removal of testicles has some influence on the personality but I don't know, whether it would make one unfit for military duty. But that is clearly a matter for the psychologists, not the body checkers.
I also bet that cultic purity is the main intent behind this.

Unusually strong menstrual bleeding is something of a no-brainer if you've lived with a woman who suffers from it; It's frequently associated with disabling cramps and the like. I'd guess you could justify the two balls rule on the basis that only people who have a spare should risk loosing one to an injury.

Unfortunately, I couldn't get that PDF to load beyond the first page, but I'm guessing they want their recruits to have ALL their organs in standard conformation. Saves on the WTF moments when a field medic goes to work on you without a medical history or x-rays.

I'm guessing it's the "we don't want the field medics worrying about about pre-existing conditions when making snap decisions under fire" excuse.

They weren't so picky back in the 1970s and 80s, before transgender surgery became more routine. Could it be that they wanted to exclude transgender people, and figured that they'd need to be consistent when defending the policy? This seems a more likely reason to exclude men with a non-standard testicular arrangement - and of course any excuse to keep girls out will be exploited by the Army.

The only thing on the list that makes a bit of sense is unsually strong menstrual bleedings because . . .

a procurement officer who bleeds a lot will freak out suppliers?

a maintenance officer can't keep a tank clean if she can't keep herself clean?

we don't want women in the army band accidentally messing up their white uniforms?

Sorry; doesn't make even a bit sense given the army's extreme reluctance to place women in combat position, and wouldn't really make a bit of sense even without that reluctance so long as the woman in a particular case had an appropriate skill set for a non-combat position.

"The Army's unwillingness to accept openly gay soldiers..."

While I am wholly sympathetic to your braod thesis, let's recall that DADT reflects Congress' unwillingness to accept gay soldiers, not the military's --which is utterly irrelevant.

DADT is a plain vanilla statute that could be overturned anytime the legislative process chose to do so.

This is why the four Democratic sitting senators who are running for president are such flaming hypocrites: they all claim to oppose DADT, yet not one is willing to introduce a bill in the Senate (one already exists in the House).

I have to agree with hartmut. Undescended testicles means a soldier is less likely to be temporarily disabled by a kick to the groin.

It should be noted that the testicle thing is congenital or undescended, having lost one due to injury doesn't disqualify you. I know (by word of mouth) soldiers that this is true for.

KipEsquire,

Senior military officers pushed back very hard against Clinton's "gays should be allowed to serve openly" policy. It was not well thought of in the military at the time, and as they demonstrated, the senior officer corps has substantial means at their disposal to resist civilian orders they don't like.


Those means include threats to resign en-mass, talking to important congressional leaders that depend on the military (you try saying no to the Joint Chiefs at the same time when they're trying to decide whether to close a base in your district), and getting groups of retired officers to raise a huge stink.

The senior officer corps can create a political nightmare for the President in this country and that gives them substantial bargaining power.

Your site has won a Blog of the Day Award (BOTDA)

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And a BOTDA and $5 will get you a Starbucks.

Congrats OBWI and Hilzoy ..... and Publius for his great posts leading up to today's award.

The savvy marketing executives running OBWI will note that blog consumers want more in the way of ballsy writing, especially regarding the odd propensity of organizations like the U.S. military to discuss, in sober, legalistic language, their exact recruiting requirments for private parts, not to mention corporal and lieutenant parts, with a straight (straight somehow being a requirement for battle; now men, I want you to stop the immoral fondling of your fellow man and get out there and butcher them. Make war, not love) face.

And that will be enough smirking and chortling.

Bigeth Dicketh wrote the regs.

What? I see nothing funny about any of this!

Now, where were we? The undescended testicle of the first part shall not cohabit with the descended testicle of the second part .....

Hey .....

Current absence of one or both testicles, either congenital (752.89) or undescended (752.51) is disqualifying

Apparently, under their Great Law, no impotent Iroquois man could represent his clan in the tribal council.

The right for a clan to be represented in the council, however, was matrilinear, as was clan membership, and power within the clans was generally held by women.

Which, perhaps, explains how qualified men were identified.

Thanks -

Why all the fuss about this? It makes perfect sense for the Army to require that privates be in good condition.

Damn you, Bernard.

Bernard, ever hear of Corporal Pun-ishment?

It should be noted that the testicle thing is congenital or undescended, having lost one due to injury doesn't disqualify you. I know (by word of mouth) soldiers that this is true for.

This is obviously due to the highly successful recruiting historically achieved in rodeo towns. (And that's no bull.)

And how many cryptorchids does it take to change a lightbulb?

"The only thing on the list that makes a bit of sense is unsually strong menstrual bleedings because . . ."

...having someone who, through no fault of their own, can't show up for at least 10% of their shifts is a problem. I'm not criticizing people with that problem (if anything, wow, that must be awful), but it is a general employment problem, not unlike if someone had constant migraines, or any other debilitating physical issue.

Did you know you also can't go into the Marines if you can't smell? A friend of mine was as gung-ho as you could be and couldn't go in 'cos he couldn't smell very well.

The thing about the heavy bleeding thing is that they address the cramps issue separately:

"Current or history of dysmenorrhea (625.3) that is incapacitating to a degree recurrently necessitating absences of more than a few hours from routine activities is disqualifying."

I didn't mention that one, since I was concentrating on stuff that did not make sense, and this disqualification did, for the reasons other people have mentioned. But in order for heavy bleeding alone to disqualify you, you'd have to have heavy bleeding w/o severe cramps.

And Bonnie: thanks. :)

@Turbulence:

Utter nonsense -- Does Congress fund the military, or does the military fund Congress?

See also, "Truman and racial integration of the military."

"Senior military officers pushed back very hard against Clinton's "gays should be allowed to serve openly" policy."

Gays were not integrated into the military under Clinton because of the resistance of Democratic Party Senators. (Clinton could have done it anyway, but that is a different story).

Alright...I'll bite and come to the Army's defense on the undescended testicles problem. Unlike the sequelae of smoking (eg lung cancer, COPD,etc), testicular cancer appears much earlier. Indeed, it is the most common solid tumor in men ages 18-35. It may be that the army doesn't want to expend the money on training an individual who then may have to leave the front in order to receive treatment. Just a hunch. As for one testicles...decreased serum testosterone?

KipEsquire:

I refer you to Andrew Bacivech who wrote of the Clinton administration that "the dirty little secret of American civil-military relations, by no means unique to this administration, is that the commander-in-chief does not command the military establishment; he cajoles it, negotiates with it, and, as necessary, appeases it." Bacevich also wrote that in response to Clinton's policies on gays openly serving, there was a "near rebellion in the ranks, apparently condoned by senior uniformed officers".

Perhaps you might believe historian Richard Kohn who wrote that "The Joint Chiefs of Staff responded by resisting, floating rumors of their own and dozens of other resignations, encouraging their retired brethren to arouse congressional and public opposition, and then more or less openly negotiating a compromise with their commander in chief."

Perhaps I was absent on the day in school where they explained how having the joint chiefs openly negotiate compromises with the President constituted acceptable civil-military relations.

Gays were not integrated into the military under Clinton because of the resistance of Democratic Party Senators.

Right, because all the Republican Senators from 1992-2000 were strongly in favor of integrating gays into the military - it was onlyu the Democratic Party Senators who were resisting this. Thanks for enlightening me, Sebastian. For some reason, I'd got the impression that the Republican Senators who resisting gays in the military, but you wouldn't just ignore the actively homophobic history of your preferred party, would you?

Seb,

One might question why Democratic Senators would oppose the wishes of a Democratic President. I'll note that recent events indicate that many Democratic Senators believe that the President should have very broad discretion on military affairs far more important than the question of whether gays can serve openly. I'll also suggest that senatorial opposition was in part driven by military complaints. Congressmen often have close relations with senior officers after all, and having retired military officers publicly campaign against you can be a real problem.

Yep. In my induction physical during Nam the next guy had only one. He didn't have to go.

Mind you, this was at a time when gay person's blood was more than red enough to be spilled for Your Country. The usual joke was claim you were gay, and they'd just laugh. Were they gonna ask for a demonstration?????

"Right, because all the Republican Senators from 1992-2000 were strongly in favor of integrating gays into the military - it was onlyu the Democratic Party Senators who were resisting this. Thanks for enlightening me, Sebastian."

You seem to want to blame *everything* on Republicans. It is a simple fact that the Democrats controlled the Senate and House at the time (and by a 55 to 45 member majority). It is a fact that the opposition to integrating gays in to the military was headed by Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services Democratic Senator Sam Nunn.

"For some reason, I'd got the impression that the Republican Senators who resisting gays in the military, but you wouldn't just ignore the actively homophobic history of your preferred party, would you?"

I'm well aware of the homophobic history of Republicans. But for the record, your impression was wrong. The resistance to gays in the military in the US Congress was led by Democrats. The main champion of the policy outside of the administration was Barry Goldwater, a Republican.

"One might question why Democratic Senators would oppose the wishes of a Democratic President."

I suspect that this thought is why you are so sorely misremembering the history. It is a matter of record that the Democratic Senators did in fact oppose the wishes of a Democratic President.

As for mass military resignations over the issue, that is a silly bluff--especially during peacetime. Maybe some very old officers, but very few people are going to throw away the investment of 10-15 years toward a good retirement because they don't like queers.

Seb,

Does that mean that you think military historians like Bacevich and Kohn are incorrect? Because if I'm "sorely misremembering history" as you suggest, then I don't think I'm alone. Of course, not all historians agree with Bacevich and Kohn.


As for mass military resignations over the issue, that is a silly bluff--especially during peacetime. Maybe some very old officers, but very few people are going to throw away the investment of 10-15 years toward a good retirement because they don't like queers.

Most of the JCS have more than enough service time to have ensured their pension. Its not like retiring would have been a terrible hardship for them in any event: there are plenty of defense contractors, lobbyists, and consulting shops waiting to snap them up and pay them a lot more than they were making in uniform.

For what its worth, I don't think senior officers would quit just because "they don't like queers." Things are rarely that simple. It would probably be a combination of not liking queers, sincere belief that homosexuals reduced military effectiveness, and the belief that accepting gays were tantamount to buying into all manner of social ills prevalent in civil society.

This is a very common argument made by minority cultures: its not that they hate gays per se, it is just that gays are a symbol of societal abandonment of vital norms. Society abandons all notion of right and wrong and all manner of evil befalls it. The in-group (in this case the military) must remain pure by refusing to go along with society and sticking to tried and true beliefs, thus ensuring their continued survival. In other words, accepting gays meant rejecting social norms, and those norms were what made the military effective. Accept gays today and discipline will be lost tomorrow.

I'm speculating here, but the point is that the leaders of highly conservative institutions had other reasons for opposing the integration of gays beyond random personal prejudice.

Oh, give me a break. The military provides free health care to its people. It doesn't want to deal with pre-existing health problems any more than an insurance company does. It's a money issue, not an issue of patriarchy run amok.

One would think not experiencing periods, or experiencing them only irregularly--as some very athletic women do--would be a benefit for the Navy whites and, really, any woman.

Also, active duty seems like an excellent time to go on Seasonale, the birth control pill that results in only four annual periods.

- a woman

You seem to want to blame *everything* on Republicans. It is a simple fact that the Democrats controlled the Senate and House at the time

Sebastian, Clinton's proposal was actively opposed by Joint Chiefs Chairman Colin Powell, whose voice on such an issue carried a lot of weight at the time. Nunn was the leader of the opposition to the Clinton proposal in Congress--but his working majority consisted of most of the Republicans and a handful of conservative Democrats.

As to your notion that, "Clinton could have done it anyway," you're ignoring the fact that the Constitution gives Congress, not the President, the power "To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces" . . .

Hey, if Clinton could have done it anyway, then why didn't he? I imagine that he didn't relish being humiliated by the armed forces. And, for all his faults, I think we can all agree that if Clinton actually had the legitimate authority to just force it through, he would have been smart enough to know that. So why did he balk if he had some much power in this situation?

Seems pretty 'straight' forward: only fertile woman & men who can get them pregnant allowed!

The Standards on Medical Fitness are a book length document, from which you selectively quote a few measly paragraphs. You also play down the statistical relevance of cancer for some of the conditions cited, if you mention it at all. Furthermore, you clearly misunderstand or ignore the purpose of the Standards: if a condition is not listed, the Army has to accept EVERYONE who has it. Many of the standards in the manual are there to provide a basis for screening: medical waivers for something like undescended testicles are not impossible to get. The Army just wants to reserve the right to evaluate that condition to itself. The manual should be looked at as a combined human resources guide for recruitment, and as a health insurance policy document.

Go take your axe and grind it somewhere else. One wonders what kind of pervert has the time or inclination to go pouring through US Government documents looking for references to genitalia!

Many of the standards in the manual are there to provide a basis for screening.

A good point, but do you know whether the ones discussed here are among those that are there merely to provide a basis?

As for "selectively quot[ing] a few measly paragraphs," I'm not sure what she should have done - quote paragraphs on lung health standards for balance? Balance of what, exactly? Selectivity is a good thing when it's fair.

What do you mean, "stastical relevance of cancer"?

Stripping away the anger in the previous comment, there's an interesting question, which is how much selectivity should be applied for army recruitment? In Starship Troopers, I think Heinlein has the long passage about how Johnny's blind teacher, by volunteering to do X, is releasing an able bodied soldier to fight bugs. Should a completely able bodied person be rejected because, when they turn 65, will have a higher potential risk of having cancer? Given the progress in medical science, it seems a better bet that in the 45 years (assuming a 20 year old recruit) between now and the potential future that something will be done to deal with it. But I'm not sure how to evaluate it absent some data and it sure seems that the data is biased by notions that may exist in the armed forces concerning masculinity and gender.

Cool, I've never been called a pervert before. Ubernilla, yes, but never a pervert. :)

Does a uterus count as genitalia? And no, I'm not doing the google search from work, thank you very much.

One wonders what kind of pervert has the time or inclination to go pouring through US Government documents looking for references to genitalia!

Or, for that matter, to go poring (not "pouring," please) through blogs with which s/he is not sympathetic in search of the same!!

I’ve said this before but time to weigh in again…

I have no problems with gays in the military, I knew many, most were out and were not run out of the service (before DADT). My only concern was that they did their job – and they did.

And a gay guy in the shower would get a lot less attention than a dude with one nut. ;)

"Does that mean that you think military historians like Bacevich and Kohn are incorrect?"

Their quotes don't say what you seem to think they say, and if they are downplaying Nunn's role, yes they are deeply incorrect.

"Most of the JCS have more than enough service time to have ensured their pension. Its not like retiring would have been a terrible hardship for them in any event: there are plenty of defense contractors, lobbyists, and consulting shops waiting to snap them up and pay them a lot more than they were making in uniform."

Not to put too fine a point on it, but you don't seem to know much about recent military history when you say things like this. In the early 1990s, Clinton and the DoD wanted people to leave early. This was the time when it was bascially throwing people out mid-career because he wanted to shrink the military. Having a few people resign over 'gays in the military' (which frankly I do not believe would happen anyway) wouldn't have been desperately unwelcome.

"For what its worth, I don't think senior officers would quit just because "they don't like queers." Things are rarely that simple. It would probably be a combination of not liking queers, sincere belief that homosexuals reduced military effectiveness, and the belief that accepting gays were tantamount to buying into all manner of social ills prevalent in civil society."

No significant number would have quit that weren't on the way out anyway.

"Hey, if Clinton could have done it anyway, then why didn't he? I imagine that he didn't relish being humiliated by the armed forces. And, for all his faults, I think we can all agree that if Clinton actually had the legitimate authority to just force it through, he would have been smart enough to know that."

Argh. It is a fact that Clinton could have done it by executive order. I honestly don't know what to do in an argument where someone doesn't know the facts AND won't even try to listen when the facts are presented. He knew full well he had the authority. He just didn't want to pay a political price for exercising that authority. The political price was unknown, and he wasn't willing to risk it. That has nothing to do with his authority as President.

I don't know how high the price would have actually been had he caved. What would have happened? Would it have caused Democrats to lose control of the House and Senate? Heh.

Fact--the main opposition was led by Democratic Senator Nunn.

Fact--Clinton could have integrated by executive order

Fact--the Democrats controlled the Senate by a good margin at the time.

Fact--the only major Democratic senator to strongly support Clinton was Barney Frank--the openly gay one.

Fact--the major political supporter for integration was Goldwater--a Republican and a one you might have heard of.

If these facts don't suit your theories, I can't help it.

Frank was a Congressman, Seb.

Quite right, I believe the strongest Democratic support in the Senate came from Boxer. I apologize for the error.

It only bolsters your point though, I think.

Sebastian: You seem to want to blame *everything* on Republicans.

Wait, what? Sebastian, you're ignoring the fact that the working majority against gays in the military in Clinton's Senate was Republican. And your response when I (and others) point this out is to say "You're blaming the Republicans!" Well, yeah: why aren't you? Why do you want to blame everything on the Democrats?

Mind you, this was at a time when gay person's blood was more than red enough to be spilled for Your Country.

This has always been true. A local GLBT group regularly puts a pink triangle memorial wreath on the local war memorial, in remembrance of the GLBT soldiers who died for their country and were forgotten as fast as possible by the military in which they served.

Seb,

I think you misunderstand me. If the JCS threatens to resign en mass, that's not a problem in and of itself.

What is a problem is for the JCS and a dozen generals to resign on the same day and then hold a press conference the next day where the top 20 (just retired) military leaders in the United States tell the press "We love this country but because we believe that the President is so out of control and poses such a danger to the United States through his ignorance and arrogance, we cannot in good conscience continue serving."

That statement would be headline news on every single newspaper in the country. It would be featured on every single newscast for the next week. The armed forces are looked upon with tremendous respect and if their senior leadership publicly walked out, it would be taken as an incredibly serious vote of no confidence.

Yes, Clinton was trying to trim forces. That doesn't mean that Clinton "wanted" the political suicide that I just described.

You may wish to review the difference between defacto and dejure authority. I actually do think that Clinton had the legal authority to push his policy through. But legal authority is irrelevant if you lack the political power to make your decision stick. Why did the most powerful man not have the political power to make it stick? Because the military refused to accept it and the military has substantial power in this society.

Pregnancy is the period from conception to birth, Phil. Gestation is carrying a fetus inside one's body. I'm uncertain what pedantic point you feel you're making by drawing a distinction between forcing a woman to continue her pregnancy against her will, and forcing a woman to carry a fetus within her body against her will, but no doubt it's very important to you.

Jes: …in remembrance of the GLBT soldiers who died for their country and were forgotten as fast as possible by the military in which they served.

Not by “the military in which they served”. By the politicians and generals maybe - not by their comrades.

I’m going with Sebastian here. DADT was all on the Democrats and gays had it much better in the military (Army anyway) before it was enacted. Clinton caved on a campaign promise. The Democrats in Congress caved. Nunn led the opposition, Frank went for the compromise, and Goldwater was the champion of a total repeal of the ban. That is what happened…

*blush* Apologies: that last comment was meant for another thread, and somehow between fighting the Typepad spam filter and the captcha screen, it got here. :-(

OCSteve: Not by “the military in which they served”. By the politicians and generals maybe - not by their comrades.

It's their comrades grown senior who as repeatedly remove the wreath, wanting them forgotten, OCSteve.

and gays had it much better in the military (Army anyway) before it was enacted.

Because living a lie under threat of dishonorable discharge is so much better? Don't be smug about it till you try living like that for 20 years, boy.

"If the JCS threatens to resign en mass, that's not a problem in and of itself.

What is a problem is for the JCS and a dozen generals to resign on the same day"

That wasn't even close to happening. I don't believe that a single member of the Joint Chiefs would have actually resigned over it--much less all of them plus lots of generals. I'm sure some of them floated non-specific rumors but so what?

That is like me starting an argument with "if communists had clandestinely taken over the executive branch..." We had non-specific rumors of moles too. Like McCarthy much?

Why didn't Clinton do it? Because it was really just a campaign promise--not a big deal to him. You can see how it played out a few years later in the Defense of Marriage Act. You have to create this enormous disaster thing to excuse him, when the reality is that he didn't do it because ultimately it wasn't really worth very much to him. Gay people were going to vote for him anyway, there wasn't any reason to push very hard. So he didn't.

No significant number of military officers were going to throw away their careers over this. Give me a break. Most military officers at the time knew gay people in the military already. The Reagan-era doctrine was "we'll pretend not to notice if you don't go out of your way" and functioned MUCH better for gay people than the later policy.

Sebastian: Gay people were going to vote for him anyway

Because, although he wasn't prepared to make political sacrifices for GLBT equality, he was better than voting for a Republican.

You puzzle me, Sebastian. All of your comments on this thread appear to be frantic attempts to build up Clinton as anti-gay. I never saw you write a single line critical of Bush promoting a homophobic change to the Constitution in 2004 or 2006, when the Republican party's homophobia was current events. You appear to be far more angry at CLinton for failing to resist the tide of right-wing/Republican/military homophobia, than you ever were at Bush for actually fomenting homophobia for electoral purposes.

Why's that?

and gays had it much better in the military (Army anyway) before it was enacted.

Because living a lie under threat of dishonorable discharge is so much better? Don't be smug about it till you try living like that for 20 years, boy.

Jes, you aren't listening. The pre-DADT was better for gay people than DADT turned out to be. He wasn't saying it was ideal, or perfect, or great. But it was better. I know a large number of gay people in the military, and even more who used to be. Any of the gay people who were in during the DADT transition will tell you that it was much better before Don't Ask Don't Tell.

No one is claiming that gay people would prefer the Reagan era policy to a policy that accepted gay people. The claim is that between the Reagan era policy and the Clinton era policy, the Reagan era one was better for gay people.

Most of those commenting here sound like they haven't a clue what military life is like.

OCSteve,

While I don't doubt your experiences in the Army, I am having difficulty reconciling them with this military times poll from 2003 that indicated that only 25% of respondents favored allowing gays to serve openly. I suppose some difference could be accounted for by the fact that military times subscription base includes people from other services besides the army and isn't necessarily representative, but that's still not what I would have expected after reading your comments.


For the record, I'm not claiming that Nunn had no involvement. He played a major role. I'm just skeptical as to how much of his motivations came from listening to the military itself.

Any of the gay people who were in during the DADT transition will tell you that it was much better before Don't Ask Don't Tell.

Those are presumably the gay people who had learned to live with the lies and had not been court-martialled or at best received a dishonorable discharge.

I don't know any American soldiers who were in during the DADT transition, true. I know British soldiers who served when the UK military had the same policy as the US military. When the military can threaten you with a court martial and a stint in military prison for being gay, this is worse than simply being given a dishonorable discharge.

"You appear to be far more angry at CLinton for failing to resist the tide of right-wing/Republican/military homophobia, than you ever were at Bush for actually fomenting homophobia for electoral purposes."

I'm not angry at Clinton at all. And I've been writing against the stupid anti-gay military policy for as long as I've been writing.

I just don't think that the actual policies are worth making a decision between Democrats as a party and Republicans as a party. Some of the right-wing of the Republican Party makes nasty comments about gays but can't get anything done. Some of the left wing of the Democratic Party makes friendly comments and also can't get anything done. The middle isn't very gay friendly. As such, I don't see any reason to vote one way or another based on 'gay issues' (on a party basis--an individual basis may be different depending on the individual. I would never have voted for Helms for instance.)

But I seriously object to the garbage coming from Turbulence on this subject. When it came down to the Senate investigations on gays in the military, Democratic Senators led the way (and controlled the committee that did it). Republicans didn't control crap in the Senate at the time. That may be uncomfortable, and maybe things have changed for the party (though I don't think so) but it is the truth.

And his "the whole military command structure was going to throw away thier careers and resign" thing is just a silly way to try to avoid the facts.

Jes: Because living a lie under threat of dishonorable discharge is so much better? Don't be smug about it till you try living like that for 20 years, boy.

I’m pretty sure I’ve told you this before, so forgive me if I repeat myself.

In the first half of the 80s they were not living a lie. I personally served with (and knew very well) gays who were very open. They lived off base with their partner. The Squad Leader, Platoon Sergeant, First Sergeant, CO, and Battalion Commander knew they were gay. It did not matter as long as they did their job. If you were openly gay and a screw-up, they might have used teh gay thing to get rid of you. Period. Gays have it worse now due to DADT.

Turb: JCS is pretty much top of the hill in terms of military power. None of them would have resigned over this. Forget the pension – those guys like the power and the authority. The last time the JCS seriously threatened to resign en mass was 67 – during the Vietnam War.

Now Clinton had a bad relationship with the military throughout his administration, and this undoubtedly started things off on the wrong foot. The JCS was against intervening in Bosnia (the Powell Doctrine). In terms of the JCS rebelling against civilian control, IMO it has most often been when the civilians want to send men/women/closeted gays into harms way.

That wasn't even close to happening. I don't believe that a single member of the Joint Chiefs would have actually resigned over it--much less all of them plus lots of generals.

Oh! You don't believe? Well why didn't you just say that? If I had known that you just don't believe, I would have stopped arguing hours ago. Because, really, this whole question hinges on what you happen to believe.

Actually it doesn't. I understand that you don't believe, but since you've presented me with no citations and no evidence justifying your belief, the mere force of your belief is insufficient to move me.

You would have more credibility if I didn't have to walk you though, step by step, an explanation for why the public resignation of a dozen senior officers would be a problem and why life for retiring generals really isn't that awful.


I'm sure some of them floated non-specific rumors but so what?

So what? Threats are often effective. That's what. They make the threat and maybe its real and maybe its bogus but without calling their bluff it is impossible to find out. So Clinton erred on the side of caution. Look, I don't like Clinton either. But historical review can occasionally benefit from systems analysis, rather than reducing every historical question to the personal virtue of various important people like Clinton. So while I don't like him, I doubt other Presidents in his position would have been able to act very differently given the institutional dynamics at work.

I suppose it is possible that you know more about these issues than the historians that I cited earlier. But frankly, you haven't given any indication that that's the case.

Turb: I am having difficulty reconciling them with this military times poll from 2003 that indicated that only 25% of respondents favored allowing gays to serve openly.

Well, there is almost two decades difference between my service and that poll. I wouldn’t think that they regressed in those decades, but who knows. I can only speak to the early 80’s. I will note that the Military Times is not an official publication of the military and its polls have been suspect before.

It is a fact that Clinton could have done it by executive order. I honestly don't know what to do in an argument where someone doesn't know the facts AND won't even try to listen when the facts are presented

Sebastian, you are just flat wrong about this. Clinton could issue an executive order, but Congress could annul it, because under Art. I Sec. 8, it's Congress who ultimately gets to set the rules for the armed forces. My recollection is that Clinton backed down whe it became apparent that he didn't have the votes in Congress to sustain his position.

Now Clinton had a bad relationship with the military throughout his administration, and this undoubtedly started things off on the wrong foot.

Very true.

The JCS was against intervening in Bosnia (the Powell Doctrine). In terms of the JCS rebelling against civilian control, IMO it has most often been when the civilians want to send men/women/closeted gays into harms way.

Is this some kind of joke? Surely you can't be serious?

Are you saying that JCS was so concerned about endangering soldiers in Bosnia that they fought the President of the United States tooth and nail? And then when Bush II wanted an insane war that made no sense to military planners and proved far more dangerous, JCS happily went along without nary a complaint?

I look at that and think "wow. JCS threw a tantrum over Bosnia for reasons that had little to do with actual danger to servicemen and women because when Bush was pushing his crazy war, JCS didn't complain at all." Now obviously JCS of 1993 and JCS of 2003 are different groups of people, but systematizing institutional leadership is what the military really excels at, no?

Tell me, where the fsck was your precious Powell Doctrine in 2003? Do you really believe that JCS in 2003 simply didn't know anything about the Powell Doctrine? Or do you think that they were so unbelievably negligent that they never bothered to ask questions like "what's our exit strategy?" or "what are the clear metrics that tell us when we can leave?" or "what is the plan for pacifying the country in phase 4?". That's a little bit hard for me to accept.

Most of those commenting here sound like they haven't a clue what military life is like.

Were it that no one did...

rea's argument re: executive orders and congressional authority seems to be supported in this NYT article from 1993.

If life in the military was so great for gays before DADT, then I'm really confused why JCS would dig in their heels on the issue. I mean, it sounds like everyone in the military was more or less OK with gays and that no one believed that gays posed a danger to unit cohesion. So why the strong language from JCS then? Were they all too incompetent to understand what was happening in their own services? Did they have some bizarre anti-Clinton hatred? That doesn't really make sense.

OCSteve, I'm really confused as to how DADT would make things worse for gays. If the culture of the military in the 80s said that being gay was no problem, even though it was technically a serious violation of the rules, then how could life for gays get worse ten years later? In the intervening decade or two, society at large has become a lot more accepting of gays, but in order for things to have become worse in the military, most of the military would have had to become LESS tolerant of gays. I can imagine why such a thing might happen, but it is really strange, right? Or am I missing something obvious?

Turb: Is this some kind of joke? Surely you can't be serious?

Well, saying “The JCS” isn’t that accurate because the people change all the time, as you noted. My point was that when they do seriously rebel, it is not over something like DADT.

where the fsck was your precious Powell Doctrine in 2003

Er, it’s not mine. Kind of why they call it the Powell Doctrine rather than the OCSteve Doctrine.

Or do you think that they were so unbelievably negligent that they never bothered to ask questions like "what's our exit strategy?" or "what are the clear metrics that tell us when we can leave?" or "what is the plan for pacifying the country in phase 4?"

Yes.

Turb: I'm really confused as to how DADT would make things worse for gays. If the culture of the military in the 80s said that being gay was no problem, even though it was technically a serious violation of the rules, then how could life for gays get worse ten years later?

Hmm. I can’t really think of a good comparison. All I can tell you is what I experienced at the time. I suppose that the threat of nuclear annihilation or Soviet tanks pouring through the Fulda Gap any day made things like that seem unworthy of attention.

Look, I had a very openly gay woman in my squad. She lived with her girlfriend. She brought her girlfriend to company functions when family was invited. There was no single person in charge up to battalion level that did not know she was gay.

But in Army terms, she should have been a Marine. She was a kick-ass soldier. At the time that is all that mattered.

She lived openly. After DADT she would have had to hide it.

Turb: And if you questioned someone, it wasn’t “Who do you like to diddle in your off hours?” The questions were:

Can you carry your own crap plus the squad weapon and ammunition (M-60, an extra 25 or so pounds) on a 10 mile road march, then put up camouflage and dig a foxhole in MOPP4 (full chemical suit and mask), and then take first watch… If I’m in a foxhole with you, do you have my back?

The gays I knew all met or exceeded that criteria. My platoon was happy to have them. Not a one got discharged due to being gay. OTOH, a guy who had trouble with his weight but was also a crappy soldier got discharged due to being overweight. They started drug testing about that time. Good soldiers who I knew (yes firsthand) smoked came up negative. Bad soldiers who had never even smelled it came up positive several times in a row and were discharged.

Those regs are there, and mostly used, to get rid of bad soldiers. Obviously there are exceptions. You can always get an a-hole commander who enforces ever AR ever written.

Well, we just got a Wii and I'm thinking about ordering Medal of Honor, so that should establish my bona fides to talk about military matters. So...

I'm really confused as to how DADT would make things worse for gays.

Turb, I'm probably stating something that you are well aware of, but one way that bureaucratic power operates is to promulgate laws that disfavor a particular behavior and/or a particular group and then fail to enforce them so that those effected are 'benefiting' from the benevolence of those in power. This seems to be standard here in Japan, but many Americans view it as an anathema. I think that when such a situation occurs, there is a separation between the situation on the ground and the laws as they exist, and looked at from the way things were in everyday military life, I think OCSteve's statement makes sense. The laws allow those in power to retain their prejudices without examining them, and the targeted group gets to live and let live, and so
-everything is fine
-the system is rotten with hypocrisy.

If I could do a bit of typographical setting, I would try and continue to construct a parallel set of statements for each option, but not having that resource, I leave it as an exercise for the reader.

Ouch, affected. Jeez, 1st language attrition...

lj,

Perhaps my confusion is too elementary to understand. Here's where I'm getting lost. When OCSteve served, the rules stated that homosexuals should be severely punished. And yet they weren't. Why? Because people in the military had no interest in enforcing those regulations.

In the intervening decade or two, lots of old people have left or retired from the military and lots of young people have joined. On average, the young people joining are far more likely to be tolerant of gays than the old people leaving. And yet, once DADT was passed, the military felt compelled to seriously enforce its provisions.

I don't understand why. Being gay was serious violation of regulations both before and after DADT; different regulations perhaps, but still a violation. The only thing that changed was the willingness of officers to enforce those regulations. Given the demographic changes, I really don't understand why that change would occur.

The only explanation I can think of is that OCSteve's experiences were not representative of the military as a whole, but that doesn't sound very plausible to me.

"You would have more credibility if I didn't have to walk you though, step by step, an explanation for why the public resignation of a dozen senior officers would be a problem and why life for retiring generals really isn't that awful."

You don't have to walk me through it. I understand the military very well thank you very much. That is precisely why I am well aware that a threat of mass resignations over this is empty. It may very well be that Clinton didn't understand the military enough to know that I suppose, but the one of us who is revealing a lack of understanding about the military is you. I know exactly how bad it would be IF the whole top echelon of the military resigned. But that 'if' is really silly in this case.

"OCSteve, I'm really confused as to how DADT would make things worse for gays. If the culture of the military in the 80s said that being gay was no problem, even though it was technically a serious violation of the rules, then how could life for gays get worse ten years later?"

What is this 'would'? This isn't a hypothetical. You can ask actual people. You can talk to people. DADT systematized something that wasn't happening before. That system was worse than the neglect of before. You keep asking questions like 'why would a Democratic senate go against a Democratic president' or 'why would DADT be harder than the Reagan-era system' as if the hypothetical difficulty trumps the actual world. These things actually happened. Your difficulty with seeing it doesn't change what actually happened.

Ok that was a bit harsh. But very seriously, I'm well aware of how the military works and how gay people have and do fit in with it. I work with, am friends with, and have even loved different gay people in the military.

Turb,
I'm just drawing an analogy from my experiences here in Japan, where that sort of thing is rampant, and it makes perfect sense to me. The key is that when the powers that be are made aware of the gap between their rhetoric and the actual situation, rather than acknowledge that their rhetoric was based on faulty assumptions, they seek to punish those to the full extent of the promulgated rules. I think there is a parallel when we have some judges refuse to reopen cases when there is an overwhelming amount of evidence to exonerate on the grounds that it would subvert respect for the law itself. (I can dig up some cites about that, but not immediately) It's the whole Billy Budd/Caine Mutiny conundrum, I think.

Turb: I’m really feeling like I am not doing a good job explaining what I mean here. I think I need to sleep on it and then try again.

For tonight, to boil it down: We had teh gays. It was no big deal. If you were gay, fat, a stoner, or for many other reasons – if you sucked as a soldier, whatever reason was handy was used to get rid of you. I have no problem with that. Get rid of bad soldiers.

Some of the best, and most memorable, soldiers I served with were gay. Some of the worst were straight. At the time, the Army valued good soldiers and did not bother good (gay) soldiers.

It’s that simple: You are a good soldier – they will overlook a lot, even “in your face” stuff. You are a bad soldier – they will jump on any breach of AR to get rid of you. That is how it should be IMO.

But I’ll sleep on this and try again tomorrow. I’m sure Jes will have something to say when she gets up in the morning. ;)

Turb, a lot is made of how much the military needs the soldiers they have.

Since after DADT, there was a more publicized approach and there was not felt to be a major need for a larger military, gays became more targeted.

Even after 9/11, gays remained targeted based upon Rumsfeld's philosophy of lean, mean fighting machine, as well as this adminsitrations obvious hostility towards gays. Witness the getting rid of several Arabic translators because they were gay.

However, in the past couple years, the dismissal rate for reasons of homosexuality has dropped significantly as the lights went on that we need every capable person we can get, and even not so capable.

DADT put a very public face on an issue, and in fact, probably invigorated the anti-gay part of the right to push for stronger enforcement. And at the same time, the gay community as a whole was more unwilling to hide itself.

Its late, and that was probably a poor explanation, but maybe OCSteve can use it as a start in the morning when he has a clearer head.

During our physical exam, I remember that there was an individual in our group that was disqualified for having a crooked penis. This happened during the Vietnam era when they had the draft. I didn't understand it then and still don't. What in the world does not having a straight penis have to do with anything? It's bizarre.

During our physical exam, I remember that there was an individual in our group that was disqualified for having a crooked penis. This happened during the Vietnam era when they had the draft. I didn't understand it then and still don't. What in the world does not having a straight penis have to do with anything? It's bizarre.

OCSteve, john miller, and LJ

Thanks for your strong efforts at education. I think I understand what you're trying to get at but I still don't understand how you separate the effects of force reduction from DADT specifically. In other words, let's say that DADT never happened. Why should we expect that the number of gays drummed out would be any higher than actually happened under DADT? Its true that openly gay soldiers weren't getting kicked out in the 80s, but, the armed forces weren't shrinking.

I can see temporal correlation between gays getting forced out and DADT, but I also see temporal correlation between gays getting forced out and a shrinking force structure, increasingly strident activism, and increasing public awareness leading to more congressional pressure. Seb has lots of anecdotes (I'm sure he has a pile large enough to constitute data) but so far I haven't seen any clear reason to believe that DADT specifically was the root cause as opposed to any of the other correlated factors. Without DADT, I'd expect that gays still would have been forced out under the old regs. After all, OCSteve keeps saying that the Army will use whatever rules it takes to weed out the undesirables, and gays achieved public prominence in the 80s and 90s...

Some people seem to think that discharges under DADT are classified as Dishonorable. More than 90% of them are Honorable. Even if caught in an inappropriate situation (sex with a subordinate or without consent) one is much more likely to receive a discharge with an "Other Than Honorable" classification. Even convicted rapists get "Bad Conduct" discharges oftentimes. Dishonorable discharges are VERY RARE.

I've never heard of this rule, and it doesn't make much sense to me, but I know this. I joined the Army in 1987, spent 4 years, then was reactivated under the inactive reserve umbrella for Desert Storm. I have one testicle, and it wasn't by accident - I was just born that way. To the best of my knowledge, it was never an issue with the Army, and it isn't like you can hide it during the physical. Vietnam era sounds like it may have been enforced, somehow, but in the last 20 years? My experience says not likely.

I've never heard of this rule, and it doesn't make much sense to me, but I know this. I joined the Army in 1987, spent 4 years, then was reactivated under the inactive reserve umbrella for Desert Storm. I have one testicle, and it wasn't by accident - I was just born that way. To the best of my knowledge, it was never an issue with the Army, and it isn't like you can hide it during the physical. Vietnam era sounds like it may have been enforced, somehow, but in the last 20 years? My experience says not likely.

Turbulence: Its true that openly gay soldiers weren't getting kicked out in the 80s
"On the basis of its policy of excluding homosexuals from the military, DOD annually expelled an average of about 1,500 men and women between 1980 and 1990 under the separation category of "homosexuality." These expulsions reached a high of about 2,000 in 1982 and a low of about 1,000 in 1990. Separations for homosexuality do not require a determination that an individual's behavior affects the military's mission. In terms of rank, gender, and race/ethnicity, the majority of those expelled were enlisted personnel; most were men (about 78 percent); and most were white. When challenged, these discharges have been routinely upheld in the military adjudication and civil court systems." GAO Report on Gays in the Military, 1992

I see (upthread) that OCSteve is claiming (conveniently) that the soldiers expelled for homosexuality must have been bad soldiers or they wouldn't have been got rid of. Which sounds like classic anti-gay prejudice to me: but hey.

What I don't get is h9w Sebastian thinks that it makes sense to blame Clinton for this. Clinton changed the policy from one that was less tolerant of gays to one that is more tolerant of gays. The military hierarchy took that as an opportunity to make things worse for gays. How is that Bill's fault?

OCSteve: your comment ("And a gay guy in the shower would get a lot less attention than a dude with one nut. ;)") made me chuckle - you'd have to be pretty close to notice the one nut in the shower...

I must admit that I thought, like Turbulence, that the worse DADT accomplished was maintaining the status quo. But looking at the comments I can see that making it a much more public issue might force people to take a stand. Overlooking something when it is against a law that gets lots of attention is harder than condoning something that is not really mentioned much.

The UK militairy was rather anti-gay as a policy, until they were forced to accept them by the European Court. Now they are so happy with the gays that they actively recruit in gay circles. Appearantly some rules just need to be forced?

Jes: OCSteven said that being gay was an easy excuse when you wanted to get rid of a bad soldier, not that every gay soldier being expelled was a bad soldier. Since he also very clearly stated that many gay soldiers were very good soldiers I think accusing him of classic anti-gay prejudice is bad form.

Some of the best, and most memorable, soldiers I served with were gay. Some of the worst were straight. At the time, the Army valued good soldiers and did not bother good (gay) soldiers.

Ergo, OCSteve is claiming that the gay soldiers who were expelled - about 15 000 of them - must all have been bad soldiers or they wouldn't have been expelled. How convenient to believe that homophobic authorities with the power to expel people for their sexual orientation only use their powers for good!

Jes: I have no doubt that good soldiers were discharged for nothing more than being gay. I noted last night that some commanders would follow every AR to the letter. But the better commanders I knew or knew of used their discretion in such matters.

I said I knew overweight people who were discharged with that as the given reason, but in reality they were bad soldiers. That doesn’t mean that I believe every person discharged for being overweight was actually a bad soldier. I was actually close to that line myself. They had this ridiculous height/weight chart that said if you were this tall you could only weigh this much. You could appeal of course, and if the doctor said you were OK then you were OK. My First Sergeant actually called my wife at one point and asked her to come talk to him. He explained to her that she wasn’t feeding me right, that she needed to feed me more peas and fewer potatoes…

Turb: I think john miller and LJ made the best points. It was all the attention brought about by the fight that ended in DADT that really changed things. Commanders who previously had a fair amount of discretion no longer had any option.

...between 1980 and 1990, the navy representing 27 percent of the active force, accounted for about 51 percent of the discharges;

I guess OCSteve doesn't have to judge all of the discharges for homosexuality in the military since he's speaking only of the army, and only of his personal experiences therein. NOTHING he has written sounds at all anti-gay, quite the opposite, actually. If you knew how many gays were serving in the army with OCSteve as a percentage of the total number of people serving at that time, you could make a judgement about how the number of gays discharged compared to the total number of discharges. Otherwise, it's entirely possible that the gays discharged were as bad of soldiers as all the others discharged. I personally doubt that there wasn't an anti-gay bias reflected in the discharges, but I don't know without having all the numbers. Maybe they're in the document you linked, Jes. But it doesn't really matter as far as what can be gleaned from OCSteve's comments regarding his sentiments towards gays. It seems to me that he thinks they should be able to serve openly under the same conditions anyone else would be allowed to serve.

Jes,

I'm just not seeing OCSteve's comments as being anti-gay. At all. Not even a little.

OCSteve: Jes: I have no doubt that good soldiers were discharged for nothing more than being gay.

OK.

Turb: I think john miller and LJ made the best points. It was all the attention brought about by the fight that ended in DADT that really changed things.

In what way? Before DADT soldiers were discharged for being gay, under threat of court martial. After DADT, soldiers were discharged for being gay, without threat of court martial. The change may have come in the attitudes of military commanders who were OK with tolerating LGB soldiers so long as it was a matter of their being personally tolerant and the soldiers being careful to lie. But two things changed after DADT. One was that commanders had come as near as dammit to having to accept LGB soldiers in their units, without any question of the soldiers having to lie and be discreet. Two, LGBT people outside the military have become accustomed to the idea that they don't have to lie.

I think the first is a larger point than you may think: I've encountered several people who were happy to be tolerant and generous in their attitude towards LGBT - but got really uptight when it wasn't a matter of their tolerance and generosity, but of having to accept LGBT people as of right. (This attitude generally comes with the belief that a LGBT person should be grateful for being treated "like anyone else", and show that gratitude by not "causing trouble" - ie, not thinking that treatment is theirs of right, but being aware it can be taken away at any time.)

The second I think you'll agree is significant. Thirty years ago LGBT people for the most part took for granted that they would conceal their sexual orientation from anyone who didn't share it and wasn't a close personal friend who'd proved they could be trusted. Obviously this is still the case for all too many LGBT people, but the only area of US life now where it's both necessary and inescapable is if you're serving in the military.

Living a lie with people you live and work with isn't easy. I've been in jobs where I had to do it: I've lived with people where I had to do it. And while many LGBT kids may still grow up in families where they learn how to do it the way we all used to - but once they leave home, unless they leave to join the military, they don't have to. There is a far bigger split between the life an LGBT person can live outside the military, and the life an LGBT person must live inside the military, than ever before: and that by itself would be enough to account for a substantial increase in discharges from people who simply aren't accustomed to watching every word they say in case it gives them away.

braces as Earth stops on its axis

I agree with Jes. Asking people to deny or simply hide part of who they are is, quite frankly, cruel. Suggesting that such cruelty is in any way militarily necessary, conversely, is specious.

"Well, we just got a Wii and I'm thinking about ordering Medal of Honor, so that should establish my bona fides to talk about military matters."

Call of Duty 4, dude.

Unless you prefer WWII. In which case there's the whole MoH vs. Call of Duty 2 vs. Battlefield 1942 debate.

Maybe they have another use for the eunuchs:

Tax authorities in one Indian state are attempting to persuade debtors to paying their bills - by serenading them with a delegation of singing eunuchs.

Eunuchs are feared and reviled in many parts of India, where some believe they have supernatural powers.

Often unable to gain regular employment, the eunuchs have become successful at persuading people to part with their cash.

The eunuchs will get a commission of 4% of any taxes collected.

In Bihar's capital, Patna, officials felt deploying the eunuchs was the only way to prompt people to pay up.

"We are collecting taxes for the municipal corporation, collecting money from those who have not paid their taxes for years," said Saira, one of the eunuchs on the streets of Patna.

"Tax payment is necessary. When the corporation won't have any money how will they look after the people?"

Accompanied by police officers, the eunuchs approached shopkeepers and large defaulters on their first foray into tax collection.

"Pay the tax, pay the Patna Municipal Corporation tax," the eunuchs sang as they approached Ram Sagar Singh, who owed 100,000 rupees (£1,180), the AFP news agency reported.

Mortified by the commotion, Mr Singh reportedly agreed to pay up within a week.

Singing eunuchs. What will the think of next?

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