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May 10, 2011

Anchors Aweigh
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 03:30 PM * 66 comments

Tying together our recent Navy, marriage, and gay rights discussions:

Navy plan to allow same-sex marriage on bases draws opposition Vintage photo

Washington (CNN) — A preliminary U.S. Navy plan to allow its chaplains to perform same-sex marriages in military chapels after the end of “don’t ask, don’t tell” has fired up congressional opposition.

All services are moving forward with the transition from the present ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in uniform. Top Pentagon officials are expected to sign off on the new rules and the progress of training in coming weeks.

An April 13 memo from the Navy officer in charge of chaplains says they “may” officiate at same-sex marriages or civil unions, depending on both local laws and their religious organization.

“Regarding the use of base facilities for same-sex marriages, legal counsel has concluded that, generally speaking, base facility use is sexual orientation-neutral,” Rear Adm. Mark Tidd, the Navy’s chief of chaplains, said in the memo. “This is a change to previous training that stated same-sex marriages are not authorized on federal property.”

As you might expect, the usual suspects among the Republicans got their knickers in a twist and started yelling “DOMA! DOMA!”

My money is on the Navy. Congress took away our lash, and Josephus Daniels* took away our rum, but nothing is going to take away our sodomy.

* SECNAV. “Nobody now fears that a Japanese fleet could deal an unexpected blow on our Pacific possessions… Radio makes surprise impossible.” Josephus Daniels, October 16, 1922
Comments on Anchors Aweigh:
#1 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2011, 03:50 PM:

The Navy has experience with integration. We did it with the non-whites, we did it with the women, and now we're going to do it with the gays.

#2 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2011, 03:52 PM:

No! Not the rum!

#3 ::: Keith Kisser ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2011, 03:54 PM:

It turns out our military my be the at the forefront of mainstreaming gay rights. It's a wacky old world.

#4 ::: Nangleator ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2011, 03:54 PM:

An excellent chew toy for the pit bulls of the GOP to clamp on to. One wonders what might get past them while they are distracted.

#5 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2011, 03:57 PM:

This is, in my opinion, one of the major sources of civilian opposition to ending "don't ask, don't tell" -- the awareness that once ordered not to discriminate, the armed forces will suck it up and commence non-discrimination by the numbers.

(Which will have repercussions on the civilian side, since bars, housing units, and suchlike who do discriminate against one particular category of soldier, sailor, airman, or marine risk getting put off-limits.)

#6 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2011, 03:57 PM:

I once read that San Francisco has such a large gay community because of the Navy's own large presence, which meant quite a few homosexual sailors wound up dumped there. Is that true?

#7 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2011, 03:58 PM:

To be fair, Jim, no one has tried* to take away the Navy's sodomy, or even its widespread reputation for same.

Sailors just weren't allowed to admit they LIKED it until now.

*Not with any serious effort, anyway. Lip service doesn't count!

#8 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2011, 04:08 PM:

Xopher: Thirty years ago in Virginia Beach you used to be able to get tee-shirts that said, "It's not gay if you're underway."

#9 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2011, 04:13 PM:

Yep! And also "It's only queer when you're tied to the pier." I assume they meant the ship, not the sailor.

This is an instance of the general American tendency to think statements are true if they rhyme. They wouldn't rhyme if they weren't right, would they? Well then.

#10 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2011, 04:17 PM:

Two seconds and that d*mned Village People song starts playing....

#11 ::: JBWoodford ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2011, 04:23 PM:

Xopher @#7:

Lip service doesn't count!

As it were.

#12 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2011, 04:34 PM:

Time to watch "Operation Petticoat"? And "Ice Station Zebra"?

#13 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2011, 04:50 PM:

JBWoodford, caught me!

#14 ::: Steve Downey ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2011, 05:24 PM:

Akin is deliberately confusing civil and religious marriage. Once "don't ask" is off the books, it would be positive discrimination to prohibit chaplains from performing any religious ritual their beliefs permit them.
The civil marriage would still not be recognized by the Feds.
Hopefully that won't stand for long either.

#15 ::: Keith Kisser ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2011, 05:30 PM:

James D. Macdonald @8:

I grew up In Va Beach and remember seeing one or two of those shirts once upon a time. I was waaaaaay too young to get it at the time. Think that was one of the earliest memories of my parents saying, "We'll explain it when you're older."

#16 ::: Sylvia ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2011, 05:36 PM:

The post made me shake my head in dismay at the response but the comments? *splutter* Best thing I've read all day.

#17 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2011, 05:47 PM:

I've been known to tell people that not only do we have legal gay marriage here*, and legal gay military service, we have legal gay military weddings! Performed by Big Gay Military Chaplains, even! And now the U.S. will, too. Cool.

So far, no ships have sunk due to their overwhelming gay-osity.

*Canada, to be clear
(also, women in submarines since 2001. No sinking there, either)
And I just see now (while looking up that date) that it seems the U.S. Navy will allow women in subs next year. Shiny! I hadn't heard.

#18 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2011, 05:53 PM:

Cheryl #17: "So far, no ships have sunk due to their overwhelming gay-osity."

And when we reached our station
And to our great elation
The ship was sunk
In a sea of spunk
From mutual masturbation.

-- Frigging in the Rigging (trad. Navy song)

#19 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2011, 06:08 PM:

Serge #6: WW II was a boom for the San Francisco Bay Area. Many people who worked in the shipyards or were discharged there decided to stay. I've heard anecdotally that after the war, a lot of effort was made to discharge homosexuals first. They definitely were denied honorable discharges and denied benefits. All the more reason for them to find a new life in San Francisco. (Or if they were in the European Theater, New York.)

#20 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2011, 07:13 PM:

Dr Doyle @ 5: (Which will have repercussions on the civilian side, since bars, housing units, and suchlike who do discriminate against one particular category of soldier, sailor, airman, or marine risk getting put off-limits.)

Seems to me they risk a lot more than being put off limits. The wrath of a service member defending h* buddies against an insulting civvie is not something I'd ever want to be on the business end of.

#21 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2011, 07:17 PM:

I've long said that the difference between the civilian side, and the military side is the ability to compel. Command directives are binding. Command culture plays a role (some units/services are better than others: The navy was the slowest service to integrate blacks, but they've been better in some ways at integrating women,etc.).

So yeah, the worry has always been that the same equalising pressures Truman ignited when he desegregated the services would kick in when the same was done for homosexuals.

That the broader culture is more accepting of it that it was of racial integration just makes it all the more terrifying.

#22 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2011, 07:18 PM:

I learned it as, "The good ship Venus" and that verse ended, "From raging fornication"

#23 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2011, 07:46 PM:

The other frightening thing, for those opposing gay rights, is that -- like marriage, and like raising children -- military service has long been regarded in this culture as a signifier of respectability. And the last thing these people want is for gay people to be respectable.

#24 ::: Parris ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2011, 09:05 PM:

I just want to see the photos from the first Big Gay Military Wedding at the Naval Academy Chapel in June this year or the next, when ever it happens, and it will, those pix are going to be fabulous, especially the walk through the crossed swords arched above the heads of the loving couple.

My mom lived in Annapolis for many years - one end of the street was the St John's College campus, the other were the walls and one entry point in the Academy's grounds. I worked in a local semi-hippie bar for a while when the 'no alcohol use by adult mid-shipmen within 50-miles of Annapolis' rules were relaxed, and I had a great time serving the polite, well-dressed young men wanting to drink as much as possible without falling over within a severely limited time period that was a hard to earn privilege. They also tipped well, and never, ever, treated me as anything like a real lady, or their sister back home in Indiana.

Unlike the state legislators who frequented another bar and restaurant I worked when the Legislature was in session.

#25 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2011, 09:28 PM:

TomB @ 19... Ah, when people aiming to discard something wind up creating what forces them to change...

#26 ::: Seth Gordon ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2011, 11:36 PM:

Once they get married, see, that will put an end to the sodomy.

#27 ::: Stephen Frug ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2011, 12:29 AM:

Xopher #9: This is an instance of the general American tendency to think statements are true if they rhyme. They wouldn't rhyme if they weren't right, would they? Well then.

Said in rhyme,
True every time!

#28 ::: Stephen Frug ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2011, 12:30 AM:

Xopher #9: This is an instance of the general American tendency to think statements are true if they rhyme. They wouldn't rhyme if they weren't right, would they? Well then.

Said in rhyme,
True every time!

#29 ::: Russ ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2011, 06:10 AM:

Highly tangential*.

*but included because this thread needs more dinosaurs.

#30 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2011, 06:40 AM:

Today comes the news: Navy reverses itself on gay marriages on military bases

Two steps forward, one back. This will come around again, and next time, more progress.

#31 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2011, 08:22 AM:

Xopher #9: If it don't rhyme it ain't a crime; it's also sweeter in the proper metre.

#32 ::: Nee ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2011, 09:28 AM:

My best friend's brother-in-law was stationed on a nuclear submarine, and he said when you are sleeping up against a nuclear warhead, who likes to do what with whom is the last thing you care about.

#33 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2011, 10:33 AM:

Change, you will see, is a one two three
as we waltz around the room.
A him for he, and a her for she
as they swan around downtown.
For every two steps forward,
they take a small one back,
and so we dance along in time.
But as the music plays,
'cause love is here to stay,
we twirl around the room
step by step, heart to heart,
Waltzing to progress in three-four time.

#34 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2011, 03:58 PM:

Jim @ #30, it's amazing that the US House of Representatives can find so many things to do other than focus on those things its members campaigned on, like the economy.

Military gay marriage ceremonies, defunding of Planned Parenthood and NPR/CPB, repeal of the ACA, destruction of Medicare/Medicaid . . . the list goes on.

#35 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2011, 05:00 PM:

Debra, #23: That's sort of what I was thinking -- that this was going to play merry hob with the "Support the Troops" meme, and cause a lot of cognitive dissonance along the way.

Of course, I'd already noted the sharp drop in "Support the Troops" magnetic ribbons after Obama was elected, but that was political; this is visceral.

#36 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2011, 06:50 PM:

Lee @ 35:

They're going to have to bite into it a lot quicker than happened with racial integration too. The thing that riled a lot of racists then was that blacks could be commissioned officers ("Officer and a gentleman by act of Congress, Oh NOES"). Well there are already a fair number of gay officers, and as soon as it's safe for them to come out, there will be a lot publicly gay officers who aren't bashful about announcing themselves. Won't that be a kick in the genitals for the homophobes!

#37 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2011, 06:51 PM:

Sailors used to sing "Yo ho, blow the man down", didn't they?

#38 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2011, 07:36 PM:

Another saying we had in the Fleet was, "Friends are friends and pals are pals, but buddies sleep together."

Years ago, Spy magazine (anyone remember that?) had a cover article "Was JFK a Closet Queen?" about the -- manly friendship -- that characterizes the Fleet. Their informant (who wasn't all that well informed), claimed that "the Navy resembles a gay club with a nautical theme" (or words to that effect). Their logic was on the order of gay guys have tattoos, sailors have tattoos, therefore sailors are all gay. I didn't really buy it.

I thought, at the time, that gay clubs were supposed to be more fun than that. But what do I know?

#39 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2011, 09:59 PM:

"the Navy resembles a gay club with a nautical theme"

Well, yes. As the father resembles the son. The military is widely aped by the more cargo-cultish sort of gay man. Sailors are manly/macho/sexy, therefore if I wear a sailor suit (or even an actual uniform), I'll be manly/macho/sexy too, right?

No? Awwww.

I do have to admit that when the NYC Gay Men's Chorus' "Chorus Butch" (an elected office in that organization; there's also a Chorus Queen) appeared in his real, actual, Marine Dress Uniform, it was the sexiest thing I'd ever seen. To be fair, he was a stone hottie even in jeans and a hoodie, but he was to drool over in his dress uniform (that's over, conceptually, as opposed to onto, which would have been all your life was worth).

Are you allowed to wear the uniform after you're discharged, even as a costume? I'm sure he didn't care about the regs regarding that, since the Corps kinda fucked him over (it was clear from his attitude, though he wouldn't talk about the story). Just curious.

#40 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2011, 11:06 PM:

Xopher: It's not a costume. The uniform(s) in effect at the time of one's discharge (so long as it's not a BCD, or Dishonorable) is yours. You earned it, and the decorations, badges, appurtenances and accoutrements which go with it.

So my BDUs, DCUs, ACUs, Class A/Greens Dress Blues and Mess Dress are all mine to wear to such functions as they are suitable for.

In practical terms, I can put them on anytime I please, even with my long hair, and I do.

#41 ::: Devin ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2011, 01:34 AM:

Xopher @39

I haven't made a deep study of either sailors or manliness, so I could be wrong about this, but I suspect the clothes are by far the least manly part of being a sailor.

#42 ::: Alex ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2011, 04:42 AM:

Well, it's not kept the US Navy from taking Hirohito's surrender on the quarterdeck of the Missouri, landing Commander Armstrong on the Moon, or bringing back Osama bin Laden's ass in a paper bag and slinging him off the flight deck of the Vinson, so...(why is it you bother with the other services again?)

#43 ::: Devin ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2011, 05:40 AM:

Alex @42

Just because Armstrong was a Navy officer doesn't mean the Navy put him on the moon, any more than Aldrin's and Collins' Air Force commissions make it an Air Force mission. Apollo 11 was just one of millions of non-Naval vehicles which have carried Navy personnel. (Another example of a spacecraft which carried a USN officer would be Soyuz TM-31, which delivered the first ISS crew. I suspect many Russian engineers would be surprised to learn that the Soyuz program was a USN triumph...)

It would be technically accurate but rather dishonest to say the Navy "took the first steps on the moon," but to say that the Navy "landed Armstrong on the Moon" just ain't true. A lot of Navy folks worked hard for NASA. So did a lot of people from other services, and a lot of civilians. Let's not take that triumph away from them just for second-hand bragging rights, hey?

Another nitpick: I don't think Hirohito was present on the Missouri, and the first Allied signature on the Instrument of Surrender was MacArthur's as Pacific-theater Supreme Commander, not Nimitz's.

#44 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2011, 09:50 AM:

Then honor the mighty Missouri
Whose complement likes to have fun
They'll bugger the the vents and the airports
And even a sixteen-inch gun.

(--trad. Navy song)

#45 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2011, 09:54 AM:

Vents, in case anyone is wondering.

An "airport" is what's more commonly known as a "porthole." (An airport is a porthole with a hinge and a dog so you can open it, letting in air.)

A sixteen-inch gun.

#46 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2011, 01:03 PM:

James 38: About "Friends are friends and pals are pals, but buddies sleep together"—do you think that was invented by someone who wanted to argue that guys who are close enough friends should be able to sleep together without shame, or someone who hated the word 'buddy' and wanted to embarrass people out of using it?

Terry 40: Thanks for that clarification.

Devin 41: Yes, cargo cults are silly. When it comes to sexiness, though, as opposed to manliness, anything that's sexy to the observer really is sexy. If someone has a fetish for purple feathered flapper hats, someone wearing one will be sexy to them, regardless of what the rest of us may think.

Military and uniform fetishes are very, very common in the gay community.

James 44: Hmm. For buggering one of those vents to be at all...interesting or useful, shall we say? —the buggerer would have to be, um...well endowed. That would justify the crew of the Missouri in taking that verse as a compliment...of sorts.

#47 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2011, 01:22 PM:

Parris #24:

I can't find it on line, but there was a great picture like that in Canada when two male RCMP officers married. Lots and lots of red serge (the cloth, Serge, the cloth.)

#48 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2011, 01:36 PM:

Just wanna say that plenty of people find Navy men and Navy uniforms sexy....when fleet week is going on in NYC, you can see people's heads whipping around as they ogle the sailors.

#49 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2011, 01:44 PM:

Exhaustive experimentation
By Darwin and Huxley and Hall
Has proved that the ass of the hedgehog
Can hardly be buggered at all.

We therefore believe our conclusion
Is incontrovertibly shown:
Comparative safety on shipboard
Is enjoyed by the hedgehog along.

(--Trad. Navy song)

(Note: That's Marshall Hall, MD.)

Which also leads to the reply:

Then why don't they do it at Norfolk
As they do it at Harvard and Yale,
As well as at Cambridge and Oxford,
By shaving the spines from his tail?

#51 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2011, 01:47 PM:

Xopher: #46

Yes, the implication of the song is that the crew of the Missouri was phenomenally well-endowed.

Also, about the buddies thing, I've heard it both ways. Depends on tone of voice.

(For those interested in trivia, I spent eleven years on sea duty, and the rest messing about on boats.)

#52 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2011, 01:51 PM:

Jim, I just want to say that this thread is doing nothing to dispel, much less satisfy, my curiosity about your time spent "working for your uncle."


#53 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2011, 02:13 PM:

Jim @#49: That song caused me to have the world's ugliest knickknack in my house, I'll have you know!

#54 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2011, 02:41 PM:

Alex (#42): From Wikipedia (I haven't checked the citation, so the usual disclaimers apply): "Armstrong left the navy at the age of 22 on August 23, 1952, and became a Lieutenant, Junior Grade in the United States Naval Reserve. He resigned his commission in the Naval Reserve on October 20, 1960." That would make him (along with Harrison Schmitt, the last person to step onto the moon) a civilian.

(The last person to step off the lunar surface was Navy Captain Eugene Cernan; like Armstrong, he graduated from Purdue.)

#55 ::: Devin ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2011, 02:52 PM:

Jim @45

Check out the Flickr annotation: "No earplugs" on the guy standing alongside. As if that would matter.

#56 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2011, 07:01 PM:

Xopher #46: Also, fetishes/kinksā£ are generally all about the stimulus, but that can include stimuli chosen for the associations they trigger! Uniformed types are commonplace stimuli, but they often appear with overtones of power and dominance, so it's an "easy" kink to pick up.

#57 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2011, 08:22 PM:

David @ 56

Yeah, though I'd argue that the military uniform-fetish thing in the gay community also triggers on the forbidden, the subversive, and the desire to support "our" military men and women... Stir according to individual desire.

#58 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2011, 09:12 PM:

Now that DADT is being repealed, I wonder how many sociologists are slavering to do hands-on, in-situ research on the sexual mores and practices within the Navy?

(All entendres deliberately doubled.)

#59 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2011, 09:17 PM:

*wishes he'd done sociology instead of linguistics*

#60 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2011, 09:43 PM:

Now, Xopher, there's nothing wrong with the study of foreign tongues.

#61 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2011, 10:46 PM:

Yes, after I have half a tongue, I'll have to introduce foreign ones into my mouth to make up my quota.

I'll start with sailors.

#62 ::: heresiarh ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2011, 11:05 PM:

There seems to be quite a well-developed slang among sailors, nigh unto a dialect. Surely it, and in particular its relationship to sexual practices, are in need of study.

#63 ::: Gag Halfrunt ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2011, 06:06 AM:

The TV Tropes page for Hello Sailor might be relevant, or at least entertaining.

#64 ::: johnofjack ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2011, 08:20 AM:

The TV Tropes are almost invariably entertaining. That site is such a time sink it should come with a warning screen.

#66 ::: Dr. Psycho ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2011, 07:48 PM:

Devin@43: Yes, let's not confuse the civilian Project Apollo with the U.S. military's hush-hush Lunar operations:

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