Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Seventy Percent Solution

The Washington Post is reporting that the troop survey regarding gays serving openly in the military is completed and that it contains good news.

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.

We’d heard preliminary reports ten days ago that the survey was going to show this result, but this makes it all but official.

The Republicans, most notably John McCain, blocked the passage of the defense spending bill that contained the repeal back in September because they wanted to see what the survey said. Well, now they know: more than 70 percent of the soldiers surveyed either think it’s okay or don’t care. So Mr. McCain and his pals will have to come up with yet another reason to stand in the way. I have no doubt that they have a Plan B to object to the repeal such as allowing gays to serve openly will mean spending a lot of money on redecorating the barracks to make them fabulous. Who knows; they’ll think of something.

As Steve Benen points out, the timing is interesting. The defense bill is bound to come up in the lame-duck session of Congress where the Senate still has a 58-42 Democratic majority. And since the House already passed the bill, once the Senate passes it, it’s done.

So now all it needs is a few of the remaining moderate Republicans to vote for it and for the White House to show some backbone and push it through. Which means that the chances of it passing are problematic at best.