It’s past time to end “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the unconscionable policy that forces gay troops to lie about their sexual identity in order to put their lives on the line for their country. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has asked that Congress end the policy during its lame duck session.
Now, the long-awaited survey of troops — commissioned, allegedly, to find out how rank-and-file soldiers, sailors and airmen would respond to the prospect of gays serving openly — is in. And, according to sources who have read it, it reveals that ending DADT wouldn’t affect the military’s ability to fight wars. From The WaPo:
A Pentagon study group has concluded that the military can lift the ban on gays serving openly in uniform with only minimal and isolated incidents of risk to the current war efforts, according to two people familiar with a draft of the report, which is due to President Obama on Dec. 1.
More than 70 percent of respondents to a survey sent to active-duty and reserve troops over the summer said the effect of repealing the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy would be positive, mixed or nonexistent, said two sources familiar with the document. The survey results led the report’s authors to conclude that objections to openly gay colleagues would drop once troops were able to live and serve alongside them.
One source, who has read the report in full, summarized its findings in a series of conversations this week. The source declined to state his position on whether to lift the ban, insisting it did not matter. He said he felt compelled to share the information out of concern that groups opposed to ending the ban would mischaracterize the findings. The long, detailed and nuanced report will almost certainly be used by opponents and supporters of repeal legislation to bolster their positions in what is likely to be a heated and partisan congressional debate.
The Marine Corps remains the service most adamantly opposed to ending DADT.
Among other questions, the survey asked if having an openly gay person in a unit would have an effect in an intense combat situation. Although a majority of respondents signaled no strong objections, a significant minority is opposed to serving alongside openly gay troops. About 40 percent of the Marine Corps is concerned about lifting the ban, according to one of the people familiar with the report.
Marines are no doubt taking a cue from their homophobic chief, Marine Corps Commandant James Amos, who has openly defied orders by publicly criticizing the effort to end DADT. If he cannot follow orders, he should be cashiered.
Republicans, following the retrograde instincts of their base, are prepared to fight to keep the policy. But it will end sooner rather than later.
When President Truman ordered that the military be integrated (during a raging war in Korea) there were dire predictions about military readiness. Now, black soldiers, sailors and airmen are among the most respected officers in the service. The same will be true of gay troops when DADT ends.