BOSTON (CBS) – The House voted yesterday by a wide majority to repeal the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which prohibits openly gay men and women from serving in the armed forces.
The vote reflects several things: a recent Pentagon survey that found most members of the military don’t object to its lifting; the progress in the courts of legal challenges to the policy that raise the prospect of having it abruptly removed by court order instead of gradually dismantled by the military itself; and most of all, the sheer pointlessness and waste of the dismissal of more than 13,000 members of the military since “don’t ask, don’t tell” became law 17 years ago.
Now, the issue moves to the Senate, and while I understand they’re busy with other pressing matters, I can see no persuasive reason why they, too, shouldn’t vote to get rid of it.
Some Republicans, most notably Senator John McCain, one of our greatest war heroes, say this is a difficult change that shouldn’t be forced on the military when they’re fighting on multiple fronts, but the Pentagon survey weakens that argument, and can anyone safely say there will be a time in the future when our men and women won’t be in combat somewhere in the world?
The head of the Marine Corps says lifting “don’t ask, don’t tell” will cause a “distraction” that could cost lives, but again, this is a weak argument.
The military’s code of conduct already bans sexual harassment, which includes offensive comments or sexual gestures, and exactly what beyond that does he fear might happen?
Unfortunately, Congressman Barney Frank, with his usual modesty and tact, took to the floor yesterday to argue that it was “bigoted nonsense that the presence of someone like me will… destabilize our brave young men and women.”
I suspect it’d be better if folks with Barney’s temperament of any sexual orientation were kept well away from the battlefield.
But that aside, there seems no real case left against “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
So here’s hoping the Senate does the right thing, and acknowledges that enemy fire doesn’t discriminate between gay and straight American soldiers, and neither should we.
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