Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Movement on repealing DADT

The 'Don't ask; Don't Tell' policy, which allows homosexuals to serve in the military as long as they do not acknowledge their sexual orientation to anyone and have never engaged in any sort of homosexual activity at all, is now under serious review.

President Obama opposed the policy during his presidential campaign, he has spoke out against it as President, and recently voiced his commitment in the State of the Union address to working with the Congress this year to repeal the policy.

On Tuesday, the Armed Services Committee had a hearing on the policy, its effects, the fairness of it (or lack thereof) and what should be done going forward.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen spoke in opposition to the policy and stressed that it is time to put together a plan to phase the policy out in anticipation of a repeal.

Speaking before the committee, not limited to but including Sen. John McCain, Sen. Carl Levin, Sen. Claire McCaskill, Sen. Jeff Sessions, Sen. Saxby Chambliss, Sen. Susan Collins, Sen. Roland Burris, and Sen. Joe 'Traitor' Lieberman, Secretary Gates stated:
“During the State of the Union address, The President announced he will work with Congress this year to repeal the law know as 'Don't ask; Don't tell'. He subsequently directed the Department of Defense to begin the preparations necessary for a repeal of the current law and policy. I fully support The President's decision.”

Adm. Mullen agreed, stating:
“The chiefs and I are in complete support of the approach that Secretary Gates has outlined. We believe that any implementation plan for a policy permitting gays and lesbians to serve openly in the armed forces must be carefully derived, sufficiently through – sufficiently thorough, and thoughtfully executed.”

“it is my personal belief that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly would be the right thing to do. No matter how I look at this issue, I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens. For me personally, it comes down to integrity – theirs as individuals and ours as an institution. I also believe that the great young men and women of our military can and would accommodate such a change. I never underestimate their ability to adapt.”

I was very impressed and certainly very pleased to see two such venerated officials, both of whom have up until now, been lauded by Republicans and conservatives in general, speak out so forthrightly on why they believe the policy is bad for the military and why it should not continue to be implemented.

Sen. John McCain, who is likely soon to enter a primary contention with right-wing conservative J.D. Hayworth, decided to flip-flop from his position back in 2006 in which he said he would "seriously consider" changing the policy "the day the leaders of the military comes to [him] and says, 'Senator, we ought to change the policy'".

Apparently the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and the Secretary of Defense don't count any longer as leaders of the military... At least not when they actually support repealing DADT.

Sen. McCain feigned "deep disappointment" that such high ranking military officials are now stating that the policy is a bad one:
“I'm deeply disappointed, uh, in your statement, Secretary Gates. I was around here in 1993  and was engaged in the debates. And what we did in 1993 is, we looked at the issue, and we looked at the effect on the military, and then we reached a conclusion, and then we enacted into law. Your statement is, 'the question before us is not whether the military prepares to make this change, but how we best prepare for it'. It'd be far more appropriate, I say with great respect, to determine whether repeal of this law is appropriate and what effects it would have on the readiness and effectiveness of the military, before deciding on whether we should repeal the law or not. And fortunately, it is an act of Congress, and it requires the agreement of Congress in order to repeal it.
Your statement, obvious [sic] is one which is clearly biased,  without the view of Congress being taken into consideration. You are embarking on saying, 'it's not whether the military prepares to make the change, but how we best prepare for it', without ever hearing from members of Congress.”

Republican, Sen. Jeff Sessions suggested that the appearance is or will be among military personnel, that it is the Commander in Chief that is influencing this decision by Secretary of Defense Gates and Adm. Mullen, rather than a genuine desire for change by the Pentagon.

Other Republicans wasted no time pouncing on the admitted reality that removing this policy — allowing homosexuals to serve openly in the military — will lead to “some disruption in the force”. A remark after the meeting by Elaine Donnelly, from the Center for Military Readiness:
The most disappointing part about the hearing was the way that Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen, admitting their would be problems by repeal of this law, still stated that they are prepared to move ahead anyway.

Admiral Mullen even admitted, we really don't know how this would work. At one point, it was said that, if there's a problem with unit cohesion, well, we will just figure out a way to mitigate that.

No, it is not acceptable.
So we can take from this, then, that Ms. Donnelly would have opposed racially desegregating the military and allowing women to serve in the military. Afterall, when President Harry Truman initiated executive order 9981 racially integrating the military, there were disruptions in the military because of it. There was hostility, there were substantial legal, social, and infrastructure changes that took place as the result of desegregating the military which took many years to resolve. Nonetheless, I think most of us would agree today that it was the right thing to do. But then, considering the unscrupulousness of these anti-homosexual conservatives, who knows where they'd come down on it...

It is also worth noting that Republicans and social conservatives did not and do not want to remove the policy even when we're not involved in two wars. It seems there is, conveniently, never an appropriate time.

Democratic Senator Carl Levin spoke in favor of the effort to repeal:
“Ending this discriminatory policy will contribute to our military's effectiveness. To take just one example, dozens of Arabic and Farsi linguists have been forced out of the military under 'Don't Ask; Don't Tell'. At a time when our need to understand those languages has never been greater. An army is not a democracy, it is a meritocracy, where success depends not on who you are but on how well you do your job.”
Democratic Senator Roland Burris compared allowing homosexuals to serve in the military to racial integration of the military:
What we need is a policy that allows any individual that has the integrity and the commitment to serve this country to serve this country. We can go back to President Truman, who took the audacity to integrate the services. At one time my uncles; and members of my race couldn't even serve in the military. And we've moved to this point of where they're some of the best and brightest that we've had.
Here is a video and transcript of a story by Margaret Warner of the PBS Newshour.

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