Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The First Faint Steps Towards Repeal of DADT

The Obama administration is finally taking a few faint steps in the direction of repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT). The Senate begins hearings today on the policy, and it sounds as if there will be a year-long study to see what the impact of allowing openly gay men and women to serve in the United States military without being discharged. Meanwhile, the Pentagon has some plans to address the issue before the repeal can actually happen.

On Tuesday, in the first Congressional hearing on the issue in 17 years, Mr. Gates and Admiral Mullen will unveil the Pentagon’s initial plans for carrying out a repeal, which requires an act of Congress. Gay rights leaders say they expect Mr. Gates to announce in the interim that the Defense Department will not take action to discharge service members whose sexual orientation is revealed by third parties or jilted partners, one of the most onerous aspects of the law. Pentagon officials had no comment.

Gay rights groups are calling the hearing historic even as they question how quickly the administration is prepared to act. But Republicans are already signaling that they are not eager to take up the issue.

“In the middle of two wars and in the middle of this giant security threat,” Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, the Republican leader, said Sunday on “Meet the Press” on NBC, “why would we want to get into this debate?”

Well, Mr. Boehner, I can think of a couple of good reasons why we want to get into this debate. First, in the middle of two wars and a “giant security threat,” we need all the people who want to serve in the armed forces that we can get, so it’s both idiotic and anti-military to be getting rid of people because of their sexual orientation. Now is not the time to be weakening our forces for reasons based on sniveling bigotry and homophobia. I’m sure that Mr. Boehner’s eight weeks in the U.S. Navy taught him that unit cohesion is based on more than what he thinks might happen in the showers. Second, if Israel and just about every other country with military forces don’t have a problem with openly gay soldiers, why should we?

Finally, it shouldn’t take a year and yet another study to determine that DADT is just plain wrong on every level. The only people who are against it are those people who would rather score political points with their bigoted religious fanatics (not to mention those folks who are really way too obsessed with gay sex for their own tortured reasons). They haven’t come up with a good reason for keeping it in place for one reason: there isn’t any.