A senior military chief has said that he would build separate sleeping quarters for gay soldiers should the ban on LGBT personnel in the US military be lifted.
Marine Commandant General James Conway made the statement in an interview with Military.com, saying: “I would not ask our Marines to live with someone who is homosexual if we can possibly avoid it. And to me that means we have to build BEQs [bachelor enlisted quarters] and have single rooms.”
Gay rights groups have expressed alarm at the comment, concerned that such a step would result in a culture of apartheid-style separation which would only lead to further discrimination.
Richard H. Kohn, a prominent military historian, said that “segregating Marines, as Gen. Conway envisions, might undermine the very cohesion he and other opponents of change say they are trying to protect.”
The statement came on the same day that US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates released new regulations that could result in fewer investigations and discharges under the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ ban.
The new regulations will raise the level of the commander authorised to initiate a discharge investigation, revise the threshold for credible information and third-party allegations, and protect any disclosures by soldiers to medical and psychological personnel and for other non-military purposes.
“These new regulations are a positive step toward repeal of the discriminatory ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ law this year,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese.
“Congress must continue to move forward with legislative action to repeal the law this year while the Pentagon continues its work to determine how to best implement that repeal.”
In January, President Obama committed his administration to work towards repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ within a year.