Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Why does repealing DADT take a year?

I'm glad Defense Secretary Robert Gates said today that the Pentagon has begun the process of repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." But I don't quite understand why that process will take a year to complete.

According to Gates, the Pentagon has put together a working group that will "reach out to the [military] ... to authoritatively understand their views and attitudes about the impacts of repeal."

With all due respect, who cares about their views and attitudes? Should the views and attitudes of white soldiers have been a factor in President Harry Truman's decision to desegregate the armed forces by executive order in 1948?

In this case, it's even easier.

By one estimate, 65,000 gay and lesbian Americans are already fully integrated, proudly and honorably serving our country. The only difference is, they're forced to hide something so basic to who they are or risk being discharged.

That's not the American way.

As Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said, "No matter how I look at the 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."

If tomorrow, all 65,000 were able to serve openly and honestly, what would change? They'd still be exactly the same individuals doing exactly the same jobs. The only difference is, they would no longer be forced to deny who they are, forced to live a lie.

I think that would make our armed forces, our country, better.

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