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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.

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, [ 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?

Date: 2007-03-31 08:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oooh. I have no thinky thoughts, but I enjoyed reading this. And I'm interested that some of the yes/nos on pairings are different than what I've seen batted around before--Lorne/Elizabeth, for example.

Thank you for this.

Date: 2007-03-31 09:01 pm (UTC)
sage: Still of Natasha Romanova from Iron Man 2 (lorne sg-1)
From: [personal profile] sage
I spent some time thinking about Lorne and Elizabeth (and I don't know if I'll ever get used to him as an "Evan"), and mostly it comes down to Elizabeth not having the ability to affect his career at one stroke. She would have to go through a military intermediary to do that -- and be forced to justify the action, which would put Lorne up for official review. And if she were to abuse that, then it would go straight to the IOA.

I'm not sure it would be an entirely proper relationship, but it's less improper than pairing her with John or Rodney, for example.

Date: 2007-04-01 05:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Great list - thanks for the research!

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.

// laughs. I just had a wonderful momentary vision of the entire Atlantis base having an orgy in the gateroom at the 6 month mark.


Date: 2007-04-01 05:57 pm (UTC)
sage: Still of Natasha Romanova from Iron Man 2 (sheppard happy)
From: [personal profile] sage
And you know that in the aftermath, the gate would activate and Carter or Landry or Woolsey would walk through! :D

Date: 2007-04-01 08:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

With Chuck providing the countdown.

*slinking off to finish giggling properly*

Date: 2007-04-01 09:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
With Chuck providing the countdown.

Oh God your NOT HELPING!


Date: 2007-04-01 05:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Fantastic summary, thanks for compiling it! Now I'm off to read the story you mention..... :)

Date: 2007-04-01 06:03 pm (UTC)
sage: Still of Natasha Romanova from Iron Man 2 (atlantis)
From: [personal profile] sage
Thanks! I keep having a mental images of Halling/Heightmeyer, her getting pregnant, and him insisting that if she has to leave with their child, then he and Jinto are coming with -- because he believes Earth can't be so different as all that and is angry that they keep trying to scare him.


Date: 2007-04-01 07:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
nice comment, always more fun to read it from a SGA POW than to read the actual rules and then translate it to lantis.

but here's a thought. now, you've gone into US military rules. well, this is an international expedition, so there might be even more rules out there applying to some of the expedition members.

when i joined the military (am doing military service right now) here in Sweden, one of our female lieutenants spoke to all us girls and told us the good ol' "one soldier, one bed" :D but we also got to know that the Swedish Army supports love, as long as it's handled smoothly and don't interfere with you duties. and we definetly don't have any stupid rules about gay people. our General even visited the Stockholm Pride festival!

but anyway, very nice reading i have to say. great work!

Date: 2007-04-01 07:38 pm (UTC)
sage: Still of Natasha Romanova from Iron Man 2 (sheppard happy)
From: [personal profile] sage
*nodnod* I mentioned just that in the "Non-US miltary forces" section, and you're absolutely right. The show has done a fabulous job of NOT giving us guidelines for how the international forces fit in. The only military brass we ever see are American, and we have no idea if personnel assigned to the SGC from other countries' militaries are bound by US codes of conduct for the duration -- assuming SGC deployments count as "joint operations" -- or what. I don't want the show to waste time on bureaucratic minutiae, but it would be nice if they'd clarify this in the course of a related story.

Also, that is awesome that your general went to Pride! What a wonderful way to show support! \o/

Date: 2007-04-01 07:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Interesting and oh-so-complicated. I'd like to think that when the expedition set off, they left with the idea that these rules would be fairly relaxed since no one knew that they'd ever be back. And if you're setting off to a new galaxy where you don't know what's going to happen, it'd be nice to know that you won't be left to a life alone for the rest of your time. Then, when the SGC regains control (or what they deem as control), perhaps the rules come back into being? It'd make an interesting story.

Date: 2007-04-01 08:25 pm (UTC)
sage: Still of Natasha Romanova from Iron Man 2 (rodney)
From: [personal profile] sage

That makes sense, except that at the beginning Sumner was keeping everyone on a short leash (and telling his men to threaten deadly force against the scientists if needed!). And then when Everett shows up during the Siege, we see how casual everything's become. By the end of S3, when Col. Ellis shows up expecting unquestioning obedience, it's like the only guy doing what people tell him to is Chuck. :P (I know I laugh every time Sheppard says, "That's an ORDER.")

I kind of wish they'd declare themselves space pirates or an independent colony, you know? The logic of those rules would be easier to figure out! :P

Date: 2007-04-01 08:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you thank you thank you for pulling this together. I've nosed around a bit in the US military information on these policies but frankly, found myself too annoyed most of the time to continue. Coming from a nation that allows both homosexual military members and has some of those members legally married, the entire prejudice against same-sex relationships and marriage absolutely boggles my mind.

Ever since beginning my long story here in December, I've tossed these concerns around over and over again. I even asked someone with local military ties how things are handled currently in the joint missions in Afghanistan (short answer: Canadians have their own base and return to it -- the rules for each group are just *not* the same).

And I honestly think that with Ronon being an accepted member of John's gateteam, John was in direct violation of DADT in Sunday by asking Ronon what he did. I know some will disagree, but ... well, that's my opinion and for the moment I'm sticking to it. *g*

... heading off to re-think the Dex/Zelenka dynamic ;-)

Date: 2007-04-01 08:34 pm (UTC)
sage: Still of Natasha Romanova from Iron Man 2 (ronon speechless by thegrrrl2002)
From: [personal profile] sage
Ooh, interesting. As I understand it, Ronon is a civilian consultant. He's never taken oaths as a member of the US military, has no rank in the US military, and has no responsibility to follow any part of the US Code that applies to military but NOT to civilian consultants. So, DADT would NOT apply to him at all.

There's no citizenship requirement for enlisting in the US military (though you're not allowed to become an officer), but I have a hard time believing that the SGC would try to get the Pentagon to approve the recruitment of an alien. (And hi, even IF Ronon deigned to swear obedience to an entity he has no knowledge of, where are they going to send Ronon for basic training if the existence of the SGC is classified?)

So, yeah. Civilian consultant is the only way it makes sense to me.

Date: 2007-04-01 09:29 pm (UTC)
muccamukk: Spiral staircase decending multiple levels inside a tower.. (Normal?)
From: [personal profile] muccamukk
This is very interesting, sort of what I had intuited, but it's really nice to see the research.

What about Elizabeth/Radek? I mean, if Evan's okay because he reports to John, Radek reports to Rodney, doesn't he (after a fashion anyway)? So wouldn't he be fair game?

Not that I really mind one way or another, my main 'ship is Gateroom!Orgy, screw the regs, so...

Date: 2007-04-01 09:44 pm (UTC)
sage: Still of Natasha Romanova from Iron Man 2 (weir by sorgenmond)
From: [personal profile] sage
See, I would think that Radek/Elizabeth would be a no, on the same grounds as her and Mike Branton. As the civilian commander, she has the final say-so on civilian personnel matters.

Meanwhile she doesn't have a direct say-so on military personnel matters -- that's a channel that goes from John to (presumably) Gen. O'Neill (and if she meddles too much, it's going to cause an investigation into her trying to usurp military leadership).

But yeah, from a writing standpoint, the Orgy solution is totally the easy and fun answer to their troubles. *g*

Date: 2007-04-01 11:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I suspect that the codes of conduct would continue to be observed so long as they proved effective in maintaining good order and discipline among the expedition's members. Such codes are usually based on experience as to what behavior best facilitates a professional environment in which to achieve mission goals. Individuals may not need the codes to behave professionally regardless of circumstances but that varies from individual to individual and allowing some but not all relief from the rules is also counterproductive. Then again, a writer can make just about any case and control the outcome. :-)

Date: 2007-04-02 03:41 am (UTC)
sage: Still of Natasha Romanova from Iron Man 2 (atlantis)
From: [personal profile] sage
*nodnodnod* I wish the show didn't so completely ignore military protocol. It makes sense that the science staff needs more free rein to manage their own research projects and solve their own problems than the military staff needs to protect the expedition. But they both have valid rationale for the ways they do things.

Date: 2007-04-02 05:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I remember a fanfic where Cadman & others were having a conversation that Rodney overhears, where she basically says that it's obvious that the higher than usual proportion of women on the expedition was deliberate, so in the event they never made it back to Earth, they would at least be able to form a colony/civilisation, including babies (Rodney then goes into a panic because he didn't know & everyone else has a headstart & what if all the best women are taken already?).

Date: 2007-04-02 12:25 pm (UTC)
ext_150: (Default)
From: [identity profile]
(Rodney then goes into a panic because he didn't know & everyone else has a headstart & what if all the best women are taken already?)

*dies* Oh, Rodney... XD

Date: 2007-04-02 12:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
It's this story (and it's hilarious):

Date: 2007-04-02 12:43 pm (UTC)

Date: 2007-04-02 10:30 pm (UTC)
sage: Still of Natasha Romanova from Iron Man 2 (team)
From: [personal profile] sage
*nodnod* I remember that, and I've seen mention of it in a few others. What I keep wondering about is at what point do they decide (and who and how) to go from Expedition to Colony. I think it's easier for me to watch the show's screwy protocol from the POV that they ARE in transition from Expedition to Colony, and the squishy rules are a symptom of that.

Makes me kinda wish they'd hurry up and go rogue already. *g*

Date: 2007-04-03 10:39 am (UTC)
ext_1911: (atlantis (unknown))
From: [identity profile]
Thanks for doing all this research so we don't have to. :)

Your question at the end is timely; I'm writing a "cut off from Earth" fic for [ profile] sgabigbang and there's a point where they'll need to do the whole "we're a colony now" thing and all the policies will need to be reviewed. I'm sure that the fraternization rules will be relaxed but I haven't decided how much. It probably depends where the John and Rodney relationship is at that point; nothing like making public policy based on who's sleeping with who.

Date: 2007-06-03 09:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
You don't know me, I'm here via friends-of-journals-I-lurk-on-looking-for-fic. But this is a great resource, so thank you, and I'm wondering how Weir/Teyla fits into this.

Obviously it wouldn't be good for Liz's career in any event, but since they can't get each other pregnant (barring alien intervention fpreg fic), and Teyla is theoretically a foreign dignitary, they're on equal enough footing that it doesn't strike me as an ethical issue. But recent episodes, the second half of s3 especially, have sort of cut Teyla off from the Athosians and placed her pretty much directly into the command hierarchy - and unlike Ronon, who always answers to Shep, Teyla is on Rodney's level, answering directly and only to Weir unless off-world. Does that change the rules?

Date: 2007-06-03 06:30 pm (UTC)
sage: Still of Natasha Romanova from Iron Man 2 (teyla by smuffster)
From: [personal profile] sage
I'd say that all depends on how you define Teyla's position in Atlantis. At first, her presence was guaranteeing the Athosians still had access to the gate (in return for acting as a guide and making sure the expedition didn't starve), but as I recall, when the Asurans came, the people on the mainland evacuated to another world. I don't remember whether they moved back when Teyla did.

Anyway, it seems to me that after that point, Teyla is clearly working for the expedition as a local civilian contractor, like Ronon, but you're right that she's effectively a command-staff level advisor. Ronon's presence in those scenes implies that they're feeling out whether he has anything to offer on that level, but his comfort zone is totally among the team.

Also, Elizabeth has always technically been able to ground Teyla and could eject her from the city if it came to it (although John wouldn't back her without good cause). She really, really wouldn't. And it's really telling that when she left to meet the IOA, she left Teyla in charge, at least on the civilian side (and surely THAT means she's signed some official contract with the SGC, right?).

So...yeah. It's all murky because we don't know how Teyla fits into the overall scheme of things. Vala's position with SG-1 implies the SGC has a protocol for hiring non-Terrans... but that's the sort of detail they don't bother tellng us about.

Meanwhile, as far as the pairing, it's certainly not any more off-limits than John/Rodney. And how long did they have in S1 while they thought they'd never have contact with Earth again? Coming out of that, and seeing the extreme non-enforcement of Earth-rules...I'd say Elizabeth has a really good idea of what she can get away with. *g*

Date: 2008-09-06 11:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
This is interesting but you have completely missed out one of the main pairings on the show. I know there are probably chain of command issues or something but I would have still liked to see you explain John/Elizabeth (yes I'm a shipper)

But this was cool to look at!


Date: 2008-09-06 09:50 pm (UTC)
sage: Still of Natasha Romanova from Iron Man 2 (sga: atlantis)
From: [personal profile] sage
Nope, didn't skip her. As the Expedition head, she would be in ethical violation if she were to engage in a relationship with ANY member of the Expedition, civilian OR military, as she works for the IOA and everyone, civilian or military, ultimately works for her. It's vastly worse if she becomes involved with someone directly in her chain of command (John, Rodney, Carson, Kate, and, after they become civilian contractors, Ronon and Teyla). And she still faces the same issues wrt involvement with alien races as the rest of the expedition does -- generally they're considered a security risk. Plus, as head of the Expedition, Elizabeth is at greatest kidnap/hostage risk, and really should never be allowed any contact with unvetted people, at least not without a large marine presence. But yes, even Elizabeth/Halling would be 1) dangerous, and 2) diplomatically inappropriate.

All that said, I think Elizabeth/Ronon would be the best option, mainly because the team would shield their privacy, Ronon would bend over backwards not to endanger her position, he'd be loyal as loyal, and he would help ground her in the same way that he helps ground Sheppard. Of course, I do see John and Elizabeth as Brother-Sister monarchs who share near-identical neuroses and relationship issues (Nancy, Simon) and career pressures. They're far too twin-like for me to comfortably see in a relationship, personally, but YMMV.
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