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SGA CODES OF CONDUCT, OR WHO THE ATLANTIS STAFF ARE AND ARE NOT ALLOWED TO HAVE SEX WITH



This is less an essay and more of a list, I'm afraid, but in the course of working on a couple of long SGA stories I got to wondering what rules various characters would be breaking by getting together. Don't Ask, Don't Tell isn't the only (or even most important) military regulation concerning sexual behavior of US armed forces; fraternization is a much bigger deal. Meanwhile, real life civilian agencies with strict hierarchies (like the show's IOA) have exacting sexual harassment policies and, frequently, detailed codes of conduct forbidding intimate relationships within chains of command.

Of course, rules are made to be broken. The US military loses 4,000 people a year to §654 violations, and academia especially tends to be rife with people hooking up at will. In fanfic, of course, most writers gleefully ignore the regs for the sake of romance and/or hot sex. That's fine—it's often more fun that way. But it can be useful, especially when writing more realistic or dramatic stories, to be clear on which rules your characters are breaking by getting together.

That said, this isn't a comprehensive list of all the various possible infractions a military character could be court-martialed for. Go read the Uniform Code of Military Justice for that. This list is for looking at what the regs are and how complicated they can be with regard to characters hooking up in Atlantis.


US armed forces.
All US military personnel (on Atlantis or not) are sworn to obey rules of conduct governing who they can have social relationships with. Here's a link to a detailed summary of the US Air Force fraternization policy, but I'll sum up the more sex-related aspects:

1. Officers cannot have sex with enlisted troops. It protects enlisted personnel from abuse by officers and protects officers from blackmail by enlisted troops. If an officer is having sex with any member of the armed forces who isn't another officer, that's a court martial.

2. Officers cannot have sex with anyone in their chain of command. As base commander of Atlantis, Sheppard cannot hook up with any of his officers, but he CAN hook up with officers from the Daedalus taking shore leave on Atlantis (as long as they haven't been transferred—however temporarily—to Atlantis).

3. No one in the military is allowed to actively participate in adultery (i.e. as the cheater or as the other man/woman).

4. USC Title 10, 654 is the section of the US Code containing the policy on homosexuality in the armed forces. It says you can't be known to be gay or bi (or commit any homosexual act) and remain in the US military.

5. Don't Ask, Don't Tell is the policy for implementing the above policy. A repeal of §654 may happen in the relatively-near future but policy decisions like that can be spread across multiple administrations, so don't hold your breath.

6. Extra-Atlantis chain of command. Here's where things get murky. As base commander of a joint civilian-military expedition, Sheppard reports to Elizabeth Weir, but he also (presumably) reports to General O'Neill. He does not report to Colonel Caldwell except when they're doing joint operations that Caldwell's in charge of. So, in theory, those joint operations would make Sheppard/Caldwell a chain of command violation in addition to the queerness issue. But if Caldwell were taking shore leave on Atlantis, maybe not? Like I said, murky. And confusing.

7. Military fraternization rules extend to relationships with civilian consultants. Because they are teammates, Sheppard/McKay is a fraternization violation. If they were not on the same team, the only risk is the queerness issue.

Non-US military forces
Non-US troops may allow gays in the military, but they do still have fraternization laws. As members of an international expedition, logic says they're going to be subject to some sort of common policy but the show has never told us what it looks like.

Civilians
You would think that the Atlantis Expedition would have a specific code of conduct for civilians not dating within a chain of command, right? The only time we see mention of it, in "Sunday", it's phrased as Weir's personal decision as Expedition Boss not to date one of her subordinates. She doesn't say, "and besides, it's against policy" (not that Branton would have cared).

If it is policy, then it calls into question Rodney's relationship with Katie Brown, since he's the titular head of the entire Science section. However, we don't know if they've somehow classed Botany under the auspices of the Medical section—if they did, then that would make Beckett her boss instead of Rodney. Murky, right? But it's not like the expedition brought along an HR department, so we'll pretend it makes sense?

Local indigenous population of Pegasus
Teyla, Ronon, Halling, Chaya, Teer, Lucius, Michael, etc. are Pegasus natives with various relationships with people who work for SGC. Teyla and Ronon joined the expedition, and presumably, as base commander and team leader, John and Elizabeth are in a position to fire them. Halling and Chaya could be considered diplomatic envoys/allies under their various circumstances. With Teer, John held out for six months–until he outlasted his faith in Atlantis coming to his rescue. Lucius is an enemy infiltrator. Michael is a POW, but no one's enforcing the Geneva convention in Pegasus.

The show doesn't state outright that Atlantis personnel cannot have relationships with indigenous refugees (other than admitting John kissing Teyla while turning into a bug was out of line), but logic says that it would be extremely not-good for soldiers on a top secret mission to another galaxy to fraternize with the locals. In this vein, [livejournal.com profile] miss_porcupine wrote a fascinating story about what might happen if an Atlantis-deployed sergeant knocked up an Athosian woman and what a nightmare of an intergalactic bureaucratic incident it would cause.

This calls into question whether Atlantis civilian personnel are under the same local-population fraternization rules. Beckett dies before his occasional (awkward, strange, dubiously ethical from a medical standpoint) flirtation with Teyla goes anywhere, so we can't know whether it would have been officially frowned upon. But imagine the bureaucratic nightmare if, for instance, Zelenka knocked up Teyla or Halling knocked up Heightmeyer. Zelenka and Heightmeyer are far more critical to the function of Atlantis than your average marine–but would the IOA recall them to Earth (and presumably shuffle them around to another top-secret Earth-based SGC project), fire them, or let them be? What do you think, because I honestly don't know.

Sample pairings: yes or no
John/Rodney: no (gay, team)
John/Teyla: no (team, indigenous)
Rodney/Teyla: no (team–if Rodney & Teyla are expected to obey fraternization rules)
Kate Heightmeyer/Teyla: no (ethics policy–Kate can deem Teyla unfit for duty)
Cadman/Rodney: yes
Lorne/Cadman: no (chain of command–Lorne is Cadman's boss)
Lorne/Elizabeth: yes (Evan reports to John, not her)
Caldwell/Elizabeth: yes
Carson/Cadman: yes (as long as he isn't her physician–as CMO, he has the power to rule any Atlantis personnel medically unfit for duty)
Carson/Teyla: unknown
Ronon/Teyla: no (team–assuming Ronon & Teyla are expected to obey fraternization rules)
Bates/Ford: no (gay, rank–Bates is a non-commissioned officer)
Ronon/Zelenka: yes

Disagree with any of these? If you read the rules differently, please comment below.

What if?
Now, because fanfic is all about posing what-if's, let's consider this: What if Season 3's cliffhanger ending is NOT neatly resolved before it can have significant consequences? Assume Atlantis is safe but is entirely out of contact with the SGC for a largish chunk of time. It took Sheppard six months to go native in Epiphany, so let's use that as a rough benchmark for how long we can expect him personally to hold to policy.

Given the bizarre mix of civilian and military co-leadership of the Atlantis Expedition, how long will it be before they throw military and civilian fraternization policy out the window? Would that go hand-in-hand with ditching the policy against homosexuality? Overt repeal or tacit permission?

What do you think & why?
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