COMMENTARY | Many believe that “don’t ask, don’t tell” is a disappointing policy that only indicates how far the United States still needs to go to become enlightened. Those same people believe that the recent passage of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010” was a major step in the right direction with regard to basic human rights and non-discriminatory federal policies towards homosexuals. At the same time, there are those who feel that “don’t ask, don’t tell” (DADT) was far too liberal and that gays should not serve in any branch of the American military. Many of those individuals, however, understand that to install such a policy would be discriminatory, and, given that understanding, grudgingly accept DADT as a workable compromise. But that is as far as they want to allow the open service of gays in the military — that is, not openly at all.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) proposed an amendment Tuesday that would more than likely have made certain that the DADT Repeal Act never became law. According to OpenCongress.org, he attempted to attach the amendment to the military budget, a Defense Authorization bill, which usually gets an automatic pass by Congress due to its necessity for the operation of the military. The proposal would have had all heads of the military services give their approval of the viability of repealing DADT.
According to the legislation passed by the Senate on Saturday, Dec. 18, the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy would be officially repealed after President Barack Obama signed it into law and the process was certified. Certification rested in the hands of only three individuals: President Obama, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. All three individuals favor the repeal at present. There is a waiting period of 60 days after signing before any action will be taken by the military services to begin adjusting to gays openly serving in the military. The certification could take up to a year, according to the Associated Press.
But Sen. Mitch McConnell, who cast one of the 31 “Nay” votes (all of which were Republican senators) when the DADT legislation passed, is opposed to the repeal. He knows that adding the four military service chiefs to the list of individuals that would have to certify the repeal would increase the chances of it not being repealed in the foreseeable future. Given that Marine Corps chief General James Amos has been a vocal opponent of the repeal, it is most likely that he would block the certification.
At present, Sen. McConnell has blocked a unanimous consent vote for the Defense Authorization measure trying to get his amendment added. But Politico reported that Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CN) objected to the amendment Tuesday night and kept it from reaching a vote.
The Democrats will attempt to get the bill through again, but, according to OpenCongress.org, it is as yet unknown if Sen. McConnell intends to pursue adding the amendment. Regardless, if the amendment was added, it would most likely never reach the floor in the House of Representatives.
But individuals like Sen. Mitch McConnell and General James Amos are in the minority when it comes the acceptability of gays serving openly in the military. A CNN poll conducted in May indicated that 78 percent of Americans believed that the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy instituted in the American military forces in 1993 should be repealed. The findings were similar to studies from the two previous years.
A recent Pentagon study on the effect of DADT showed a 70 percent of service members believe the change in policy would have a positive, mixed or no effect.
Noting that there are 25 militaries around the world where gays serve openly with heterosexuals, the Palm Center, which studies military gender and sexuality issues, reported in February: ” Research has uniformly shown that transitions to policies of equal treatment without regard to sexual orientation have been highly successful and have had no negative impact on morale, recruitment, retention, readiness or overall combat effectiveness.”
Saul Relative holds degrees in History and Secondary Education, and he taught school in West Virginia in the ’80s and Virginia during the ’90s. A student of politics and political movements, he began writing articles covering the political maneuverings of the Bush administration in 2004. Saul turned to writing full-time in 2008, dividing his time between reading and writing about politics and entertainment.