The commander in chief has called for repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell.” So have Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and even retired Army Gen. Colin Powell, who once held Mullen’s title and previously backed the policy.
And so has the American public – by a 75 percent majority, according to polls.
So why does the Department of Defense say it will take several years to lift the ban, which has cost the military (and taxpayers) between $290 million and more than half a billion dollars since it began in 1994? After all, we’re engaged in two costly wars and facing record budget deficits.
The right wing’s war and deficit hawks should embrace the repeal effort, which would result in a better-staffed and less costly military. But, of course, they aren’t. In fact, as reported in this issue of WiG, the neo-cons hope to thwart the process.
And once again, the Obama White House appears to be pandering to them. The proposed repeal of DADT will be subjected to an open-ended study that allows our reluctant president and his spineless Democratic colleagues to avoid a congressional vote on the issue during an election year.
It took five years for the military to achieve racial integration under an executive order from President Harry Truman. But that order, issued in 1948, came at a time when the majority of Americans opposed desegregation.
This is different. Not only do the vast majority of Americans favor repeal of DADT, but thousands of lesbians and gays are already serving in the military. During his testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Mullen acknowledged that he knowingly had served alongside “homosexuals” since 1968.
Opponents of allowing open gays and lesbians to serve argue that doing so would destroy unit cohesion and morale. But common sense dictates that forcing gays and lesbians to lie to their colleagues is far more disruptive than openness.
If our military leaders lack the effectiveness to implement a policy that is already de facto in place, then our national defense is in sorry hands. It’s time for the waffling Obama White House to stop playing political games and take a stance for once. The repeal of this odious and blatantly discriminatory law should be pursued with urgency and resolve – not costly avoidance.