Saturday, December 18, 2010

Turning the page on DADT

Today the US Senate voted and passed repeal of the military personnel policy on homosexuals referred to as Don't Ask Don't Tell (DADT).  Given that the House had already passed repeal of DADT the next step is the President's desk.  I cannot see any reason why he would veto the bill given that both Sec Gates and CJCS Admiral Muller support repeal.  DADT is effectively on death row and that, in my opinion, is good for the country and for the armed services.

Regardless of how one feels about the policy it was only a matter of time until it was repealed either through Congress or the Supreme Court.  Be it today or tomorrow this was going to happen.  While I generally subscribe to the notion that all change is evil and should be distrusted the corollary is that imminent change should be absorbed as quickly as possible so we can move on to the business at hand, i.e. Fly, Fight and Win.  Sec Gates was 100% correct to push for this now so that the DoD could have some say in its implementation rather than leaving it up to the courts. 

A court ordered elimination of DADT somewhere in the ubiquitous future would have put the military in a scramble to implement it.  At least now we have time to develop all the beloved “sensitivity” training and education that will teach us how to get along and respect each other.  It will allow the services to figure out how to deal with rooming, showers and all the little but important things that people will have concerns about such as, how are we going to deal with troops who can’t get with the program?  How do we deal with legitimate concerns about privacy?  Those, and a thousand other questions must have thoughtful, not ham-handed, responses in order to make the issue of sexual orientation a non-issue.       

To be clear, I fully support repeal of DADT and have done so for almost 10 years.  I do not fault Pres. Clinton and the leadership at the time for its implementation.  They were doing the best they could with the information at hand.  It was a reasonable compromise albeit with inherent contradictions and problems.  However, observing these reforms amongst our peers it has become clear that homosexuals serving in the military has largely been inconsequential. 

While it is rather unimportant that countries like Malta, Spain and Finland have opened up military service to gays and lesbians we cannot ignore the fact that many countries who face existential threats or are arm-in-arm with us in Iraq and Afghanistan have done so with no impact.  I have to believe that if Israel, with enemies on all sides and within its own border, thought that inclusion of women, gays or tall people would reduce military readiness then none of them would be wearing the IDF uniform.  Similarly with Canada, Australia, and the U.K., all countries that take defense somewhat seriously.

To the contrary, the arguments regarding the negative effect of DADT on military readiness are absolutely unconvincing.  While over 10,000 service members have been discharged under DADT that is still a fraction of the overall numbers of people discharged for all sorts of other behaviors such as crime or drugs.  Getting our enlisted members to stop experimenting with illegal drugs would have a much greater impact on our health and readiness.  The death of DADT will do almost nothing to fix personnel shortages in critical skill areas, but it is still a good policy move for our country at this time.     

In the end, I am not a moral relativist and I hold pretty clear natural law moral thoughts on a lot of issues, homosexuality included.  However, I cannot escape the conundrum that there are simply not enough heterosexual Roman Catholic,  UC graduate, cross country runners in the US to do the job.  If I thought that allowing Methodists, Harvard grads, football players or homosexuals into the military would reduce the ability to conduct our nation’s wars then I would be against such a policy.  Yet I believe that there will be no effect in allowing our gay brothers and sisters-in-arms to serve openly and am happy that they will not have to live double lives anymore.  

When a soldier climbs aboard my crew's roaring spinning helicopter in the middle of the night to "visit violence on those who would do us harm" neither our ages, races, creeds, genders nor our sexual orientation matters one damn bit so long as we land in the correct landing-zone and they can carry their own weight and shoot bad guys.                  

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