Monday, October 26, 2009

Don't Ask Don't Tell...Again

I want to start this post by telling you that this is not one of my hot-button issues. I believe that Don't Ask Don't Tell should be repealed, but I don't see it as one of the most compelling issues facing our country at this time. I think there are far more pressing things on the President's plate, on which he seems to be dithering. Afghanistan, for one. But having posted before my advocacy for repealing this law, and seeing that there has been some additional talk about its repeal, I feel compelled to comment on it again for the sake of clarity.

Earlier this month, President Obama declared in a speech before the Human Rights Campaign, a gay civil rights advocacy group: "I will end Don't Ask Don't Tell." This elicited a standing ovation, even though the President offered no promise of a timetable or specific steps he was planning to take toward the promised end. I'm sure he has learned the lesson of Presidnet Bill Clinton, who aimed to tackle the same issue - gays and lesbians serving openly in the military - at the very start of his presidency and got himself embroiled in the fight over the issue that produced the DADT Law to begin with! (I think it's good when a sitting president learns from his predecessors; I wish Obama would also have learned from Clinton's unhappy Health Care Reform experience, but it seems he has not. But I digress...)

Clearly, conservatives in general are not for the repeal of DADT, and in advocating for its repeal I have 'broken ranks.' But that does not bother me...I'm not running for election to any office, and frankly I find that conservatives tend to be far more independent-minded than liberals in any case.

If you remember from my original post on this subject, I expressed my opposition to DADT on two grounds: Ideological, and Pragmatic. Recent information from the Department of Defense has indicated that all the military services have exceeded their recruiting and retention goals in the recently-ended fiscal year. Many conservatives would argue that this kills the Pragmatic grounds for repealing DADT - if indeed it every existed. If all the services are exceeding their goals without the repeal of DADT, both in pure numbers and in terms of quality of manpower, then that kills the Pragmatic argument, doesn't it?

Perhaps. But the cases of Dan Choi and USAF Lt Colonel Victor Fehrenbach, among others, point to the fact that the armed forced are being denied services of highly decorated and esteemed troops because of sexual orientation.

And of course, this doesn't speak at all to the Ideological argument for repealing DADT. And I think that argument, made in my original post, is compelling.

I will be curious to see if President Obama's statement to the HRC will be the start of a congressional push to act legislatively on the issue. I hope so. It's a simple issue and won't require a 1000+ page bill!