Friday, May 28, 2010


Tuesday Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Penn) submitted an amendment to the House Rules Committee, with the tentative approval of the White House, to repeal the 16 year old Federal law prohibiting openly gay personnel from serving in the Armed Forces, Defense Directive 1304.26, the so-called "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," (DADT) directive. The amendment will be attached to the House's version of the huge $760 billion National Defense Authorization Act, an annual Federal law which specifies the budget for the Department of Defense.
An Identical bill, sponsored by Sens. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., was passed by the Senate Armed Services Committee yesterday in a 16 to 12 vote.
Later last night the House passed The Murphy Amendment in a 234 to 194 vote.
These actions are in accordance with the President's stated desire to end DADT by the end of the year, and is acceptable to the Defense Department... with some provisions.
If these reconciled amendments pass the full Senate, DADT will remain in effect until a review by the Pentagon is completed (due in December), which ensures the repeal is "consistent with the military's standards of readiness, effectiveness, unit cohesion and recruitment and retention," and is approved by the President, Secretary of Defense, and and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Fair enough.
But why does Congress have anything to do with this policy which is primarily a military concern?
Good question, dear readers, I'm glad you asked.
Number 1: It's because Congress has essential control over everything military (through the power of the purse, i.e., appropriations, its ability to legislate laws, and it's Constitutional mandate to regulate the land and navel forces of this nation).
And Number 2: It created DADT in 1993 (just as it created the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the foundation the military services use for law, in and apart from normal Federal and State laws and statutes), in response to a stricter measure directly banning gays from serving... period. The Directive was signed into law by President Clinton, and considered a compromise measure designed to forbid the military from openly investigating it's own personnel for their sexual activities and preferences, while still barring homosexuals from serving if their proclivities became apparent, public knowledge, or if service members admit to being gay.
The point being if you're gay, bisexual, or a quadruplsexual... whatever, and you wish to serve in the Armed Forces, well, just don't tell anybody about that particular aspect of your life, and you'll be allowed to. That's the Don't Tell part. The Don't Ask part refers to the fact the military is not allowed to inquire into that particular aspect of a prospective enlistee's life when considering them for recruitment.
There are obvious problems with this policy, as there are with a direct ban on gays in the Armed Services. DADT requires that gay service members, or prospective service members, lie. Also it forces the military to discharge valuable and skilled soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, all of them, once they know they are gay, no matter how important their continued service is to the security of the United States. The current estimate of the number of service members discharged due to DADT lies between 10,000 to 14,000.
DADT costs a lot of money to! The cost associated with recruitment, training, separation expenses, etc., not to mention the costs related to loss of skill sets (for example our inability to monitor activities in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan because we've discharged gay translators), has been estimated to be between 363 million to 1.3 billion dollars (American dollars, not those things they use in Hong Kong), since 1994 when the policy was enacted.
And why would a ban, or DADT policy be put into place to begin with? Another good question. The answer appears to be, and I'm going way out on a limb here; ignorance, prejudice, and hatred against homosexuals.
For there appears to be no evidence whatsoever that a person's sexual orientation has any affect on their ability to serve in the military, or to work in any other job for that matter. Back in 1993, Dr. Gregory M. Herek, Ph.D., associate research psychologist at the University of California at Davis, testified before the House Armed Services Committee: "My written testimony to the Committee summarizes the results of an extensive review of the relevant published research from the social and behavioral sciences. That review is lengthy. However, I can summarize its conclusions in a few words: The research data show that there is nothing about lesbians and gay men that makes them inherently unfit for military service, and there is nothing about heterosexuals that makes them inherently unable to work and live with gay people in close quarters."
I served in the U.S. Navy for four years and worked alongside many gay men, and thought nothing of it, except at times, not very often, I felt a bit of their pain, or anxiety in living and working in an environment where their sexual orientation was an issue. Other than that I was glad to have them aboard, many being very good friends, most being highly intelligent and fun to be around. They worked hard, knew their jobs, and were as dedicated as anyone else. Of course they were! A person's sexual orientation has no other affect on their lives except for their choice of sexual and life partners. Why would it affect anything else? Why would my choice to mate with a female have any affect on my job performance? It wouldn't. Why would another's choice to mate with a willing person of the same sex affect their job performance. Again, it wouldn't.
Now you know how much I hate polls, dear readers, except when they help to prove my point. A February 2010 Quinnipiac University national poll showed 57% of American voters favor gays serving openly, compared to 36% opposed, and 66% say the current policy of not allowing openly gay personnel to serve is discrimination, opposed to 31% who see no discrimination.
That was February. Currently 78% of the public wants to repeal DADT. (CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey), with 20% opposed. "Nearly six in ten Republicans favor allowing openly gay individuals to serve in the military," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "There is a gender gap, with 85 percent of women and 71 percent of men favoring the change, but support remains high among both groups."
As far as military personnel are concerned, recent polls indicate almost three quarters of military state they would welcome the repeal of DADT, renaming the policy for as much as they're concerned, Don't Ask, Don't Care.
The Republicans in Congress will vote against it, of course. That's what they do. Even though the repeal shows some signs of bipartisan support, the Republican leadership is basically opposed to any policy put forth by the Obama Administration, stating they will filibuster the entire Defense Authorization Bill if the DADT repeal amendment is attached, thereby de-funding our soldiers in order to carry out their own narrow political agenda.
Other opposition includes the heads of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines:
"I also believe that repealing the law before the completion of the review will be seen by the men and women of the Army as a reversal of our commitment to hear their views before moving forward," Gen. George Casey, Army, echoing similar sentiments from the other three service commanders, and some Republicans, like Senator John McCain of Arizona, who also has looked into his crystal ball foretelling the future with an astounding certitude, claiming the repeal will hurt moral. He doesn't provide a lick of evidence for this position, which seems to be in opposition to the polling data provided. And as we've already indicated... the repeal would not take effect until the Pentagon's review was completed, therefore the chiefs of the four armed services departments, and Senator McCain are complaining about something that has already been provided to them.
For myself I'm certainly in favor of the repeal, the sooner the better. It, like any other form of baseless discrimination in the workplace is unwarranted in this day and age. The repeal will make the Armed Services more efficient, more cost effective, more ethical, and better able to carry out it's mission, the defense of this nation.
That should be Congress's only concern, not to advance their political ideology, and certainly not what others do in the privacy of their own lives.

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