Blog of Rights

DADT Repeal – Go Slow? Heck No!

By Ian S. Thompson, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 12:00am

Calls for repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" got an important boost Sunday when Gen. David Petraeus, commander of U.S. Central Command, endorsed the process that was outlined in the recent congressional testimony of Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Michael Mullen in an appearance on Meet the Press. He also discussed his own service alongside gay and lesbian service members and the non-issue that someone's sexual orientation really is to members of the armed forces.

Gen. Petraeus's endorsement comes just before the release of a study on today of foreign militaries that now allow openly gay and lesbian service members. Researchers have concluded that a speedy implementation, rather than a long, drawn-out, "go slow" approach, is the best course and is not disruptive.

Today's release by the Palm Center at the University of California, Santa Barbara was previewed in an article by Elisabeth Bumiller in yesterday's New York Times. Bumiller reported that the study found that in foreign militaries, openly gay and lesbian service members did not undermine morale, nor did they cause large resignations or mass "comings out." Additionally, and of note, none of the countries studied installed separate facilities for gay troops.

The Palm Center report seems to provide a striking visual of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) policy as a Band-Aid that needs to be taken off. Rather than pulling it back little by little, hair-by-painful-hair, it's best to just pull the whole thing off in one quick tug. However, in their recent testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Gates and Mullen said the Pentagon would spend the next year studying repeal and its impact on the armed forces, while also commendably endorsing President Obama's call for repeal of DADT.

Going forward, it is critical that this Pentagon review not be used to deflect and delay the critical urgency of fully repealing DADT. The evidence in support of such a step is overwhelming.

Finally, Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) issued a statement yesterday announcing his intention to introduce legislation in the Senate to repeal DADT stating, "I will be proud to be a sponsor of the important effort to enable patriotic gay Americans to defend our national security and our founding values of freedom and opportunity."

It's obvious that the momentum is definitely on our side. DADT is now officially on the run!

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