Military will study how to end Don't Ask, Don't Tell

During his State of the Union speech last week, President Barack Obama promised, "This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are." Today the Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing on the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, made headlines by saying he believes "the right thing to do" is to let gays serve openly:

Adm. Mike Mullen's statement was the strongest yet from the uniformed military on this volatile issue, although he stressed that he was "speaking for myself and myself only."

He told the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday he is deeply troubled by a policy that forces people to "lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens."

Defense Secretary Robert Gates told the Senate committee he also supports ending Don't Ask, Don't Tell. However, he is appointing a panel to study how to lift the ban for a full year, meaning that hundreds more men and women are likely to be discharged under the policy before it goes away. The Obama administration is expected to implement new rules on purging troops under this policy, but it's not yet clear how much that will reduce the number of discharges while Gates' panel studies the issue. According to MSNBC, "more than 10,900 troops have been fired under the policy" since 1993, but "The 2009 figure — 428 — was dramatically lower than the 2008 total of 619."

Meanwhile, at today's hearing Senator John McCain argued against reviewing the policy at this time, saying it boosts "cohesion" and "unit morale." He also presented a letter signed by 1000 officers who support Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

Come on, McCain. Even a jerk like Joe Lieberman understands why this policy is stupid.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin made the case for ending Don't Ask, Don't Tell in this piece for the Politico, but it doesn't sound like he's in a big hurry:

So there is little reason to continue this policy. But as we proceed, it is vital that we are sensitive to any complications of this policy shift. Change is always hard, especially when it involves social issues or personal beliefs. Lack of care as we proceed might spark opposition from those who could be open to change, and inflame the opposition of those already against it. And I would encourage those who favor change not to mistake deliberation for undue delay.

Point taken, but I am concerned by the timetable Gates is setting with a yearlong study. I hope Congress will act this year, because if Republicans retake the House or the Senate this November, there will be no chance of ditching Don't Ask, Don't Tell for the forseeable future.

Daily Kos user TennesseeGurl notes that even if Don't Ask, Don't Tell is repealed, LGBT Veterans will still get a raw deal. Unfortunately, I see no realistic path to fixing that problem.

UPDATE: Levin "said an amendment could be added to the must-pass Defense Authorization bill which outlines military policy for the year." Taking that path would allow the Senate to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell with a simple majority (as opposed to the 60 votes required to break a Republican filibuster).

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Don't Ask, Don't Tell

" 'Don't ask, don't tell' policy to change
Defense officials will announce changes to the government's policy of barring open homosexuals from serving in the military, though amendments may take years to implement."

Implementation may take years??  Hell, there are plenty of gays in the military now. What is there to implement?  There is also talk of possibly polling military personnel for opinions and attitudes.  What would have been the result of such a poll when President Truman integrated the armed forces? And I don't recall years of implementation of his integration order.



by altara 2010-02-02 02:35PM | 0 recs
RE: Don't Ask, Don't Tell

"From the time President Truman signed the executive order for integration in 1948, it was five years before that process was completed," Gates said. "I'm not saying that's a model for this, but I'm saying that I believe this is something that needs to be done very, very carefully."

If he's not holding that up as a model, why did he mention it? When the wheels of justice move slowly, isn't that ALWAYS a bad thing? Levin's point about how opposition could be "inflamed" is a standard red herring for supporting delays or denial of equality for gay Americans.  I remember the very same argument being made by the editors of my state's largest newspaper, back when marriage equality was first being debated here (when the Baker decision required our Legislature to decide between granting marriage equality or creating a parallel system).  Last year, when the Legislature decided (with no Court order this time) to enact marriage equality, following years of grassroots activism in support of the basic concept that separate is not equal, that same newspaper acknowledged that it had been wrongheaded in its editorial a decade earlier.

by Rob in Vermont 2010-02-02 06:56PM | 0 recs

The best way to get DADT done is to reinstate the draft. Gay men and women who cannot legally serve now would be exempt. It will pass then.

by Palli 2010-02-02 02:54PM | 0 recs

Did you see "Day Zero" with Elijah Wood? It was about an Iraq War draft, and had a scene where one of the main characters, soon to report for the draft, went to a gay bar to pick a fight with all the exempted folks.

by Nathan Empsall 2010-02-02 03:14PM | 0 recs

No, I haven't seen it but it is a real scene, I'm sure.  No matter what any one says, we don't have only the best and the brightest in the military.  We wouldn't be fighting criminal wars with criminal acts if they were.

We are, though, a military state.  


by Palli 2010-02-02 07:44PM | 0 recs

I wouldn't say that... a militaristic state, yes, but as long as we have posse comitatus and the Third Amendment, it's not fair to call us a military state.

by Nathan Empsall 2010-02-02 10:31PM | 0 recs
How about this

just stop kicking gays out starting today. That seems pretty simple. Just stop.

by srliberalguy 2010-02-02 03:50PM | 1 recs
RE: How about this

I agree totally. Supposedly they are changing the criteria, but it's just ridiculous that more than 400 people were discharged under this policy last year.

by desmoinesdem 2010-02-02 05:41PM | 1 recs


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