Congress should repeal “Don’t ask, don’t tell,” as President Barack Obama has requested. Gays and lesbians should be permitted to serve in the United States armed forces without concealing their innate sexual orientation, as they do in 20 of the 26 NATO countries, including England, France, and the Netherlands, as well as in Israel.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates testified before the Congress “that he was carrying out Mr. Obama’s policy of moving to repeal ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’” according to the Feb. 24 New York Times.
But he also said, “Any change in policy would require a deliberate review and cautioned that a Pentagon panel might take up to one year to study how to put into place any changes approved by Congress.”
Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, said on Feb. 2, “It is my personal belief that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly would be the right thing to do.” Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, commenting on the proposed study, “asked whether it would be possible to suspend all discharges under the policy pending congressional action that might repeal the ban,” the Times reported.
The Times reported on Feb. 24 that there is no unanimity on this issue in the armed forces, stating, “The top generals from the Army and the Air Force expressed deep concern on Tuesday about moving rapidly to lift the ban on openly gay service members, saying it could make it harder for their forces to do their jobs while fighting two wars.
The comments by Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the Army chief of staff, and Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, the Air Force chief of staff, may provide political cover for members of Congress who oppose President Obama’s call for repealing the policy known as "don’t ask, don’t tell.”
It seems to me that Chairman Carl Levin’s proposal of suspending discharges pending further congressional action is a rational, common-sense approach. However, "don't ask, don't tell" should be relegated to the dustbin of history — the sooner the better.
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