The last lame excuse for retaining the cruel and dysfunctional "don’t ask, don’t tell" law has been debunked.
For years, White House officials and members of Congress have acknowledged fundamental flaws in the rule that allows gays and lesbians to serve in the military only if they remain closeted. Yet, even as the uneven and irresponsible application of the policy has driven tens of thousands of able soldiers out of their units, and even as it has prevented tens of thousands of potential recruits from putting their skills to work in the service of their country, the politicians have said they could not do away with "don’t ask, don’t tell" until they knew whether doing so would harm "unit cohesion" within the branches of the military.
Now, however, the Pentagon officials charged with studying the impact of the law have concluded that repealing it will not harm military missions.
"We are both convinced that our military can do this even in this time of war," General Carter Ham and Department of Defense General Counsel Jeh Johnson wrote in the executive summary of the report from a Pentagon working group assigned to study the implications of repealing the ban.
(Read the full report here.)
The working group asked 400,000 service members for their opinions about gays and lesbians serving in the military. It received 115,000 responses. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said Tuesday that a "strong majority" of the respondents had no objection to openly gay soldiers serving in military units.
How strong? A remarkable 70 percent of the respondents said that repealing DADT would have either a positive or, at worst, inconsequential effect on a unit’s ability to "work together and get the job done." Of the 69 percent of respondents who said that they had served with someone whom they believed to be lesbian, gay or bisexual, an overwhelming 92 percent stated that their unit’s ability to work together was very good, good, or neither good nor poor. "In general," noted Dr. Gary Gates, a distinguished scholar with UCLA’s Williams Institute for Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy, "the survey shows that fears associated with working with openly-LGB colleagues are much lower among those who have already done so."
Navy Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, endorsed the report, noting that the working group "surveyed our troops and their spouses, consulted proponents and opponents of repeal and examined military experience around the world [and] spoke with serving gays and lesbians" before reaching a set of recommendations that he termed "solid, defensible conclusions." Those conclusions form the argument for the repeal of "don’t ask, don’t tell" and the elimination of barriers to out gays and lesbians serving in the military.