no excuse for keeping dont ask dont tell

No Excuse For Keeping Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

IRAQ BARAK OBAMAYesterday was National Coming Out Day today, and last night, U.S. President Barack Obama gave a speech before the Human Rights Council.  He made many promises, such as repealing the Defense of Marriage Act, and ending Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, but offered few specifics on when these things could be expected to happen.

While I support the ending of both policies, I at least can see a technical argument for a short-term continuation of DOMA.  I don’t like the policy itself, but as anyone who follows U.S. politics knows, the wheels of Congress are slow.  Passing a law doesn’t happen with the flick of a magic wand, so we can’t expect anything different for DOMA.

There is also a slight public opinion problem related to repealing the law.  The latest Pew poll shows why gay couples can’t expect any federal benefits soon.  While support for civil unions has risen to 57%, it still lacks a supermajority.  Obviously, I don’t ever expect the idea to reach universal popularity, I’d say it would be very hard to start making strong arguments before that number reaches 60%.

Worse than the number for civil unions are the ones for marriage.  They have been rising steadily over the past year, but are only at 39%.   Taking the number for civil unions and marriage together, repealing DOMA will be a tough argument for any moderate politician to make.  It would be a great thing, of course, but politically, the numbers just are not there; if there is any universal in Washington, it’s that legislators want to be re-elected.  With the coming mid-term elections, it’s just not happening now, or any time in the future.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is a different matter, however.

While those in favor of the policy will no doubt keep up on their arguments about unit cohesion, I’ve never bought it.  It has never made sense to me for one thing.  It treats gays as if they are going to hit on their fellow soldiers at any time, as if their libido is uncontrollable.   This is an old fear, fed perhaps by popular culture’s constant portrayal of all gays as overwhelmingly flamboyant.  In reality, they’re clearly not doing anything of the sort now, and I see no reason to expect that the matter would be different because their unit knows someone among their ranks is gay.  Gays are not any less professional just because their sexual orientation is different.

So, without a legitimate reason to keep up the policy, why is it still enacted?  Search me.  In his speech last night, Obama said that policy was being reviewed by Congress.  But this is unnecessarily passing the buck.  While DOMA must be reviewed and repealed by Congress, military operations are a matter for the Executive Branch.  In less than a paragraph, Obama could overturn this policy, yet he does not.  Why?

It might be because Obama fears a backlash from the religious wing of the right, but if that’s so, Obama needs to get some backbone.  If he hadn’t noticed, that branch of the GOP has considerably less sway than they did before the 2004 election.  People are more concerned now-a-days about paying their bills, not about what two consenting people are doing in their bedroom.  Gay marriage was by-and-large a state issue during 2008.  It was barely covered in the presidential race.  I think the President has little to worry about in term of political implications of ending the policy.

Ending Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell would go a long way toward showing respect for our troops, all of them.  It would no doubt allow gay and lesbian servicemembers themselves serve more comfortably, not having to worry about tip-toeing around any discussion that might arise about relationships.  And it would stop the punishment of a group of people just because they are different from the mainstream.

The United States military has had to discharge about 13,000 service members since the policy was started.  That’s a large chunk of the Afghanistan troop request General McChrystal made to Obama.  Fifty-four Arabic translators have had to leave the military in this time.  With the War on Terror still rolling strong, this is hardly a resource we can afford to lose.

Obama’s supposed deference to Congress on this issue is just an excuse.  It is commendable that he values their opinion, but all the evidence I’ve seen, from opinion polls, to some of the military’s top brass, suggests that the mood in the U.S. toward having gays serve openly in the military has changed sufficiently enough to drop the policy.  But Obama will wait, ostensibly until he’s heard Congress’ view on the matter, but nobody really knows for sure.  Ending Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is not a top priority item, giving the recession, the health care debate, and the two wars themselves.  However, it is so ridiculously easy to end that there isn’t really a reason to not do it as soon as possible.

So it’s time to give up the stalling, Mr. President.  You keep saying you’re going to end Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.  Now you just need to show us you’re serious about it.

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  1. grasp

    October 12th, 2009 at 15:40

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    #1

    During economic troubles peoples religious faith is always stronger when they are faced with difficulties such as the economy so don’t count religion out.


  2. Dan Davis

    October 12th, 2009 at 18:18

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    DADT and DOMA are seperable ideas. As an Individualist I cannot support DADT. Liberty for me means the same for everyone and we have to be insane to disallow homosexuals from a volunteer-only military. DOMA I can support inso far as the federal government cease involving itself in marriage in any way. It seems to me to be largely an economic argument anyway and the religious right will have to understand that loss of federal benefits of marriage is simply a result of their reluctance to humanize homosexuals.


  3. Dalia P.

    October 16th, 2009 at 17:16

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    SOME COUNTRY THIS IS.HOW IS IT THAT TROOPS CAN GO OUT AND RISK THEIR LIVES FIGHTING FOR A COUNTRY THAT DOESNT ALOWW THEM TO BE WHO THEY REALLY ARE.BEING GAY IS NOT A DESEASE ITS A SEXUAL PREFERENCE,AND ITS NOT CONTAGIOUS.I AM A WOMAN MARRIED TO A MILITARY WOMAN WE MARRIED IN STAMFORD CONNECTICUT,WE ARE VERY HAPPY AN SHE AS A MILITARY ALWAYS CONDUCTS HERSELF IN THE MOST RESPECTFULL WAY AND THE MILITARY DOESNT EVEN KNOW SHE IS MARRIED YET SHE IS NOW AS RESERVE BUT WE GOT MARRIED ANYWYAS.YES SHE LIES AND FILES PAPERS AS SINGLE BECAUSE SHES AFRAID TO GET KICKED OUT,BUT AT THE SAME TIME IT HURTS THAT SHE CANNOT PASS THE BENEFITS TO ME AS HER SPOUSE SINCE SHE IS NOW A VETERANS OF 8 YEARS.SO OBAMA WE VOTED FOR YOU AND WE HAVE HIGH EXPECTATIONS.WE WANT YOU TO PUT ON YOUR BUCKLE AND DROP THAT DONT ASK DONT TELL LAW.BECAUSE IT IS CRAZY THIS IS A FREE COUNTRY….PLEASE HELP US GAY AND LESBIANS.


  4. Interested

    October 18th, 2009 at 10:37

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    I think that while you will find that the youngest age group would be the most likely to openly support removing DADT is the same age group that has the most extreme homophobic. No small coincidence that that’s the same age group that’s serving.

    While we do know that Libido wise there is no contest. – gays are much more likely to have far more numerous partners than straight-orientated people will. It’s just a fact. But the UMCJ already has regulations in place for this. a straight couple cannot display signs of affection – such will also be the case when DADT is overturned.

    Either way – it’s just another empty suit promise by the Great One.


  5. Michael Merritt

    October 27th, 2009 at 06:20

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    While we do know that Libido wise there is no contest. – gays are much more likely to have far more numerous partners than straight-orientated people will. It’s just a fact. But the UMCJ already has regulations in place for this. a straight couple cannot display signs of affection – such will also be the case when DADT is overturned.

    This is the quote that needs to be passed around whenever someone screams, “Oh noes! If you remove DADT, they’re going to try and jump me!”

    Well, that, and all the ones about the fact that gays do not inherently perform sexual assault on people.


  6. Tully

    October 27th, 2009 at 15:39

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    *Obama’s supposed deference to Congress on this issue is just an excuse.*

    Of course it is. The real reason he hasn’t done it is that he wants to preserve every teensy bit of political capital he has for other things. And that he’s essentially gutless when it comes to taking solid stands and defending them, especiaqlly as relates to the military or national security. He only seems to have two public response modes — either ignore it and hope it’ll go away, or double down and bluster harder.

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