“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Officially Ends Today
The Department of Defense is set to officially repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) today, thereby allowing gay and lesbian members of the armed forces to serve openly. The repeal will end almost 18 years of a controversial policy that has expelled over 14,000 service members, and that some still say protects troop readiness.
Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army Chief of Staff, hailed the action as a victory for “Army Values.”
“From this day forward, gay and lesbian Soldiers may serve in our Army with the dignity and respect they deserve,” he wrote in a memo sent out to generals. He assured the Army is “ready for this change,” as the highest levels of command had “certified that repeal is consistent with military readiness, effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention.”
Supporters of the policy seem to be lying low compared to their protests before President Obama ordered the repeal of the law in December. Marine Commandant Gen. James Amos publicly suggested gay service members could cause distractions and cost lives in Dec. 2010, but did a complete about-face by February, urging Marines to respect the policy and observing that many troops accepted the plan. Nothing has been heard from Sen. John McCain, who predicted that the repeal would cause 12% of the military to quit. Congressmen Joe Wilson and Buck McKeon tried to delay the repeal, but on technical grounds: They claimed Congress had not been adequately informed of accompanying policy changes.
In general, the repeal has enjoyed widespread support. Even over a year ago, a Gallup poll found that 67% of Americans approved of the repeal. And according to Aaron Belkin of the California-based research group the Palm Center, soldiers support it, too. He told Time, “70% of the troops, including combat troops and Marines, say that they already work with gays, and of those, 90% say that they don’t have problems.”
What do you think? Will this make America stronger and safer?