Sunday, February 7, 2010

On Repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell

We got together for coffee this morning and the subject of Don't Ask Don't Tell came up. This was Congress and the US Military's answer in the early 90's, to previous policies regarding gay service members. It was supposed to be a gentler policy, but it ended up causing a huge number of gay and lesbian related discharges, as well as untold costs over the years. All three of us feel Don't Ask Don't Tell is long past due for repeal and Tuesday brought some welcome progress in that arena. On January 27, President Obama called for a repeal of DADT in his State of the Union address. And one week later in the Senate Armed Services Committee, several top US Military leaders addressed congress. We really love it when unexpected people step forward to show support for a worthy cause! Thanks to one of our readers who sent us this video link of Democracy Now.

To watch the episode, go here. It's about 30 minutes long - we really enjoyed it and highly recommend it.

We really loved the words of Admiral Mike Mullen, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who said:
Mr. Chairman, speaking for myself, and myself only, 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.

We're not so fond of Defense Secretary Robert Gates' claim which asserts that the Pentagon needs a year to review and implement these policy changes. But we're pleased he supports the repeal nonetheless.

Of course Senator John McCain opposes the repeal - surprise, surprise. Interestingly, McCain stated on an episode of Hardball: College Tour back in 2006, that he was simply listening to the leadership of the military in his choice to support the policy. He also said that if the military leadership were to come to him in support of a repeal of the policy, he would strongly consider such. Well here we are today and Senator McCain, the ranking Republican in the Senate, is still vehemently opposed to lifting the ban. Despite the words of top military leaders. Also despite his own daughter being a lesbian in support of this policy change. Also despite the fact that both of his sons, who too serve in the military, support the repeal of DADT!

Merriweather almost spilled her coffee when we heard John McCain claim that the policy had been effective! We're not sure what world he's living in! And we loved what guest Nathaniel Frank had to say about that!
It’s hard to know where to begin with him. I think he was visibly angry yesterday. But his inconsistencies are difficult to understand. You know, you wonder if it’s personal. Historically, he’s not been known as being ... the most anti-gay Republican lawmaker. We know he has high-level gay staff. And yet, this seems very personal to him. Of course, he’s facing ... a difficult political landscape. And so, it’s not clear to me if this is a personal or a political decision, but it’s certainly irrational.

And to say that this works—I mean, two-thirds of servicemembers already know or suspect gays in their units, and the other third are kidding themselves if they really think that they’ve never shared quarters with a gay person. So the policy has failed at its most basic goal, which was to shield servicemembers of knowledge of gay people. And not to mention all of the costs, in terms of talent, money and morale for gay people. So it’s a complete failure. It’s hard for him to say otherwise.

There are currently 25 countries that allow gays to serve openly in their military. All 25 made the implementation quickly and without apology or hesitation. This is what we need to do now! As Gates said, "We have received our orders from the Commander-in-Chief, and we are moving out accordingly."

And may we add: It's about time!!!


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