How long does it take to stop firing people?
About 11 months, apparently.
I’ve been remiss in not remarking sooner, but as expected, the Obama administration has announced it’s going to try to end the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy… eventually. They’re going to spend nearly a year reviewing the policy and planning how to end it, and frankly I’m not very impressed. It seems to me there’s not much more to it than ceasing to fire service members based on their sexual orientation, and applying the same rules about dating to members of the same sex. Gays and lesbians have been paired up with members of the same sex in situations like living quarters and locker rooms since time immemorial (or since the invention of locker rooms, in the latter case) and the earth is still standing. I personally am still very close with my college roommate; I even introduced him to his girlfriend!
Frank Rich had a fantastic op-ed piece in the New York Times today about how the repeal not only the right thing to do, but it’s also a great opportunity for the Democrats to make anti-LGBT politicians come out of the closet about their bigotry. It will be fascinating to see how this all plays out in the coming months.
That said, for all the buzz there’s been in the media there have been relatively few people who have openly opposed the proposed change. Of course, not only is popular opinion very strongly on the side of a repeal, but logic as well. Gay and lesbian service members have been able to serve openly in numerous other countries with no ill effects, and there is a complete lack of credible evidence to suggest anything else would happen here, which makes sense since we’re in every other sector of society as well and have yet to bring about catastrophe.
That makes it all the more mystifying that we’re going to spend so long investigating the policy, and there’s little to guarantee that will be a fair review. Disregarding the fact that popular opinion should never be a reason to discriminate, lesbians and gays in the military won’t be able to speak up without risking their careers. As The Economist put it:
(Defense Secretary Robert) Gates says the task-force will interview soldiers to find out how a repeal would affect their morale. But no gay soldier will be able to weigh in without risking dismissal.
I certainly don’t mean to seem like I’m completely against the administration’s plan, but DADT is such a ridiculous policy that I see no reason not to end it immediately. There is literally no rational basis for it at all, and this ludicrous rule has ruined the careers of a sickening number of service members—over 13,000. While I have absolutely zero interest in joining the military (14 years of a Quaker education will do that to you) I still shudder to think that the federal government uses a group’s minority status as a weapon against it. And they’ll keep doing that at least for another 11 months. You’ll have to forgive me for not doing back-flips.