Tuesday, June 01, 2010

What Kind of Message is the Debate on DADT Sending?

Historic votes don't assure end to 'don't ask, don't tell'?

Really? Even when, overwhelmingly, public opinion is pro-DADT repeal, but the Joint Chiefs chairman, Admiral Mike Mullen, is urging caution and delay.  He says that he is concerned about the potential impact of the repeal of the discriminatory policy  that is DADT, because he's afraid the repeal will interfere with  "military's readiness, unit cohesion, recruiting and retention". Mullen is sorry that the vote went through before the Pentagon completed its policy review, the Pentagon's survey of troops and their families, which will supposedly demonstrate how to gradually pace the implementation of the repeal. What does that even mean?  
“So since they know DADT is almost certainly on the way out, the real question for senior military leaders is to negotiate the best terms for its repeal. And what they want to protect more than anything else, as ADM Mullen’s comments indicate, is their ability to retain control over military personnel policies generally. If they fight a repeal that happens anyway, the loss of control would reverberate over the long term. But if they hold off implementing a repeal that is coming no matter what until they can say that they completed a study that endorses repeal, they can put themselves on the “winning” side. It’s a neat political sleight-of-hand that is a well-worn tool among Washington insiders — those who control policy implementation in a given area can position themselves to be the champions of a policy change that they know is coming rather than fighting it and being seen as defeated.”

“DADT will probably be repealed, but implementation will probably be delayed until the military makes a climactic endorsement of the policy change that’s coming anyway. The modern military is politically savvy enough to make itself the winner of the turf war in the process.” -- Jason Arvak
Why, all of a sudden, is there is an abundance of concern for the opinion and/or feelings of the military's rank and file?  Were surveys completed on how the rank and file feel about compensation policy, consecutive tours of duty without any additional support, soldiers on food stamps, Blackwater, etc?   

Anyway, the  "don't ask don't tell" compromise seems to think that the military's rank and file  are so fragile that the admission of the true sexuality of a colleague, who is equally willing to put his or her  life on the line for this country, will send them spiraling over the edge. If that's true, how can they expect these"fragile" men and women to risk  life and limb, as they endeavor to endure live combat?  Nevertheless, the president, the defense secretary and the Joint Chiefs of Staff must certify that the repeal will not affect the military’s ability to fight.



The focus of this debate in the media has accentuated all the "negative" aspects or repealing DADT, when in fact, very few, if any negative aspects exist.  Tune in and you will hear about the poor timing, "implementation problems" (gradual pace), and undermining "military cohesion" just to name a few.  And even though the repeal is non-controversial at this point, with recent polls showing as much as 75% of the public in favor, the corporate media has turned the repeal of DADT into a political football, making the repeal far from a done deal as "two hurdles remain before the demise of "don't ask, don't tell" can be assured".  McCain being one, and

Since it became law in 1993 under Bill Clinton, DADT has forced lesbian, gay and bisexual service members to stay in the closet or face discharge.  To date, 13,500 members of the armed forces were discharged under this law, according to the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, SLDN, an advocacy organization, while tens of thousands of current service members are forced to hide in the closet.

At  a time when the military and U.S. intelligence agencies did not have enough Arabic linguists - their skills indispensable - the military  fired at least fifty-eight Arabic translators placing the anti-gay position over national security, exponentially adding to the hidden cost of this onerous law.    How many terrorist messages went untranslated because an arabic or farsi or urdu translator was not OMG! heterosexual?

Recently, Dan Choi, the most visible gay spokesperson in favor of the repeal, and a West Point graduate and officer in the Army National Guard who is fluent in Arabic with a degree in environmental engineering, and who returned recently from Iraq, received notice that the military is about to fire him. Why? Because he came out of the closet as a gay man on national television.

Other nations that have lifted similar bans involving gays — including such close allies as Australia, Britain, Canada and Israel — report no harm to military effectiveness. As many as 66,000 gay men and women may be serving in the U.S. military, about 2.2 percent of all personnel, including 13,000 on active duty, according to a study by the Williams Institute of the University of California at Los Angeles School of Law.

But the homophobic GOP prepared to refuse an up or down vote in the Senate on a bill that funds the troops during two wars because Americans will eventually be able to serve in the Armed Forces, without hiding their sexual orientation. Unsurprisingly, in Fox’s nine segments that mentioned Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell following Obama’s announcement, not a single gay source was featured.

What kind of justice forces homosexuals, who serve our country, in the military, hide who they are, as they make the ultimate sacrifice?

Links:
Repealing 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Would Honor Gay Veterans
"Except that it wasn't. At a ceremony to recognize our completion of basic training, the base commander gave a speech in which he said, "If you're homosexual, you have no business being here." As much as anything, it was the tone in which it was said, as if to say, "If you're hiding, we will find you."

I was shaken by the commander's statement. It was as if he had said it directly to me. Though I went on to complete my technical school training and was subsequently assigned to an Air Force base in West Texas, the damage had been done. I became overwhelmed by doubt and depression, fearing that if my secret were found out, only the worst of fates -- court-martial, for example -- awaited me.

My military service ended some three months later after I approached my supervisor about a discharge. I didn't tell him I was gay, just that I thought I was incompatible with military service. A compassionate man, he was sorry to me go, but worked with me to get me discharged. Less than eight months after I had enlisted, I was heading back to Denver as a civilian once more."
Palm Center - "Blueprints for sound public policy." The Palm Center is a think tank at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Since 1998, the Center has been a leader in commissioning and disseminating research in the areas of gender, sexuality, and the military. For more information visit

Myths and Falsehoods of Don't Ask Don't Tell

Media reports are legitimizing the fear tactics of anti-gay obstructionists with uncritical reporting about gay troop disruptions.
But Aaron Belkin, Director of the Palm Center, says this is a “false debate” taken up too readily by even mainstream journalists. “There is zero evidence that the transition will be difficult,” he said. “In fact, research across the board shows that implementation of openly gay service is a non-event and that the only thing that could make it bumpy is the suggestion by leaders that there’s cause for alarm.” Belkin pointed to research by the Government Accountability Office, the RAND Corporation, and the Palm Center showing that just two variables are relevant in ensuring a smooth transition: signals of confidence by leadership and a clear, single standard of behavior that applies to everyone. He also said that, unlike ending racial segregation, lifting "don't ask, don't tell" does not require massive change, such as the movement of personnel or newly integrating units, since gays are already integrated into units throughout the force, and polls show that many of them already serve openly.

3 comments:

dave,  12:57  

The repeal faces legislative hurdles and barriers beyond Congress.

The repeal was added to the Senate's version of the bill but only at the committee level. The full senate may not take up the Defense Authorization bill until who knows when.

When Reid was asked about it, he replied, "Later". Reid faces an election in the fall and may not want to engage in a floor fight considering the fight the GOP is promising.

The Democrats say there are many more pressing issues such as immigration and economy. Then everything depends on this survey, that will be conducted over the summer, and much depends on the results of that study. If they interpret the results as having any negative effects, NO certify.

THEN, even if they get the certification, it still requires action by the military. While Congress might ban the repeal the law forcing the expulsion of openly gay service members, it's stopping short of banning discrimination in the military.

dave,  13:26  

Oh, here's the link that explains this.

http://www.npr.org/templates/player/mediaPlayer.html?action=1&t=1&islist=false&id=127303854&m=127303874

Roth's stepchild 17:48  

Thanks for the link! Very interesting.

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