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The end of 'don't ask, don't tell'

The compromise reached on "don't ask, don't tell" is not the ideal way to allow gay men and lesbians to serve openly in the military. But it's the best way to hasten the demise of a shameful policy.

In a perfect world, President Obama would void the statute immediately and order Defense Secretary Robert Gates to make it work. But failing to get the military on board for the decision to allow gays and lesbians to serve openly was one of the mistakes that produced "don't ask, don't tell" to begin with. The result was a moral dilemma, eloquently outlined "by Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, earlier this year: "[W]e have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens."

Under the new compromise -- based on an idea that originated at the Center for American Progress -- Congress will vote by the end of this week on whether to repeal the policy through amendments to the Defense Department spending bill. But before any change could take effect, Obama, Gates and Mullen must certify that it won't impact the military's three R's: recruitment, readiness and retention. And that can't be done until a Pentagon working group studying the effects of repeal issues its findings, which are due by Dec. 1.

What's needed now are the votes. I urge those members on the Senate Armed Services Committee and in the House who may still be on the fence to vote yes. This nation is fighting wars in two countries, as well as against a shadowy enemy that knows no border. America’s military needs all men and women willing to put their lives on the line for all of ours. Sexual orientation has no bearing on ability to fight. What congress is about to do -- what it must do -- will allow them to serve with honor, distinction and dignity.

By Jonathan Capehart  | May 25, 2010; 9:00 AM ET
Categories:  Capehart  | Tags:  Jonathan Capehart  
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A “shameful” policy huh?

How about the shameful conduct of the individuals that came out of the closet in order to avoid deployment? Get out of Iraq? Get out of Afghanistan? Or just plain get out?

The policy all but eliminated the witch hunts and asked for servicemen to keep their private lives private.

As abhorrent as I find homosexual conduct, I find desertion even more abhorrent. It is time to quit portraying those kicked out as victims.

Posted by: gregegger | May 25, 2010 10:36 AM | Report abuse

the only way they can safely and honorably serve is with the current policy.

Posted by: minuramsey | May 25, 2010 10:44 AM | Report abuse

You would think America would learn from history. To homosexualize the American military is to dilute and morally weaken it. America is about to lose the best in the world status.

Our military is the best because it is not like the French military or the Canadian military.

Now it will follow in the steps of the Catholic priesthood. Legions of openly homosexual "brothers" with a common trait and nefarious appetites.

The Catholic church is still paying the price of its monumental mistake. Thousands of ruined, young men with predatory lawyers at their sides. Billions in reparations and a broken church.

America's military will now start paying the price of its social experiments in trying to please a tiny minority if sexually disoriented victims.

Way to go Obama!

Posted by: battleground51 | May 25, 2010 1:13 PM | Report abuse

So, tough, honorable people like Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach, whose exemplary 18-year career as an Air Force fighter pilot was ended simply because he was gay--what about him exactly was bad for the military? No generalizations or diatribes about liberal media please, what about THIS guy EXACTLY was bad for the military?

Or if you prefer, you can comment on this guy instead:

Posted by: SteveJake | May 25, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

It's the military. They're going to give you a gun and send you into a third world hell hole to kill people. The military knows that openly gay men will weaken their effectiveness. Overtly gay men make straight men uncomfortable. An openly gay military will be a laughing stock in countries like Afghanistan and Iraq. I can not believe how stupid and irresponsible democrats are.

Posted by: peterg73 | May 25, 2010 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Peterg73 writes: "It's the military. They're going to give you a gun and send you into a third world hell hole to kill people. The military knows that openly gay men will weaken their effectiveness. Overtly gay men make straight men uncomfortable."

Soooo ... these straight men can knowingly put their lives at risk, enter combat zones, face IUDs, suicide bombers, radicalized insurgents ... but not a gay guy in his troop? Really? He can handle everything but the gay guy? Boy ... some people really know how to underestimate our troops.

It used to be that we couldn't have gays in the military because we couldn't have people falling in love (or having sex with) their fellow soldiers. That all went out the window as soon as women were being sent into combat. Now, the argument goes: being forced to serve with a gay person will make the poor straight soldier so nervous he won't even be able to lift his gun. Pathetic.

IT'S THE MILITARY. If they say, "you're fellow soldier is gay; learn to deal with it," that's exactly what a soldier will do. And it will be the least of his troubles.

Posted by: RedSeven | May 25, 2010 2:37 PM | Report abuse

This is great news, I hope it passes. Just like marriage equality here in DC, gays and lesbians serving openly in the military will soon be a no-news yawn; as it should be.

Posted by: 13joe85 | May 25, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if gregegger, battleground51, and others who state such rigid positions on this issue have served in the military?

I have. Served for four years in the Regular Army in the late 60s early 70s in the states and overseas. I was gay then and am gay now. There were discreet gays, like me, and obvious gays. I didn't notice a lack of unit cohesion on this issue anywhere. I enlisted, unlike Dick Cheney who got 5 deferments cause "I had better things to do" or George W. Bush who at a minimum got favorable treatment.

I lived it, served it and saw it. The time has come for openly gay people to be allowed to serve openly. Anything less than that is to kow tow to fear mongering and the darker angels.

Posted by: bear4asian | May 25, 2010 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Agreed, bear4asian, but since the gay-haters who posted here already posted deceptions, why even ask them if they served in the military? They will just tell another lie.

Posted by: CarrotCakeMan | May 25, 2010 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Gee, Jonathan, I know you refuse ever to criticize Obama on any gay-rights matter, but his own statement and that of Gates is killing the very compromise that he supposedly supports. By telling Congress the administration would rather that this compromise not be passed, the administration is deliberately killing it. Wake up! Barack Obama does not give a damn about gay people!

Posted by: uh_huhh | May 25, 2010 5:30 PM | Report abuse

As far as the comments above, replace gay or homosexual with Black, and transport us back to 1948 when Truman segregated the military. Gee the military survived that, too, and we're still the best... Join the 21st century folks.

Posted by: bill_delgrosso | May 25, 2010 7:22 PM | Report abuse

Seems like an army starved for troops is shooting itself in the foot if it won't take good soldiers who only happen to be married to someone of the same gender. That's it?

They can be discreet about it, I suppose. I dunno, I am straight, I don't know. I never served. I am 40.

Maybe if there is a draft later we can move out the homophobes and recruit all the young open minded soldiers we need.

Chris Marsh

Posted by: cmarshdtihqcom | May 25, 2010 11:09 PM | Report abuse

Obama is just throwing the gays a bone, just before election season. By doing this he hopes to persuade them to vote for Democrats this fall. If anyone hopes that this scheme is going to come to fruition, just look at how he treated Arlen Spector. He threw him under the bus when he needed him.

Posted by: barrysal | May 26, 2010 12:13 AM | Report abuse

I STRONGLY disagree with this article. Like so many of Pres. Obama's ideas which are hastily thrown together and CRAMMED down the throats of weak legislators and tax payers, this is a disaster being set up and waiting to happen. Where are the detailed studies of the impact on the military? Where is the opportunity for tax payers to voice their opinion not just the strong beat of the gay agenda? And it shouldn't be the right agenda either. THere should be adequate study and examinination of the potential impact on a voluntary military fighting 2 wars. It seems evident that Pres. Obama does not respect the work that our military is doing, but in his position to PROTECT THIS country, I would think that he would change some of HIS actions and the things he is planning in setting us up for possible destruction.

And PLEASE do not compare THIS issue with integration of Blacks into the military. That argument truly offends me, a BLACK person who was ordained black, borm black. It is offensive to speak of an issue to promote your agenda.

I did not serve in the military but had a father, uncles and brothers who did. I can tell you that most of them would be appalled.

Don't ask, don't tell simply says that your sexual conduct should be a private affair and should not be a part of a person's JOB!

Posted by: dlb5 | May 26, 2010 8:49 AM | Report abuse

I too strongly disagree with this artical and until the writer has lived a while, probably should not write about things he has no business writing about.

What is shameful is being forced to do something that, yet again, another majority do not want changed and this President seems hell bent on changing everything good to bad.

He is wrong.

Posted by: klassylady25 | May 26, 2010 9:44 AM | Report abuse

I would remind dlb5 that our system of government is a republic not a direct democracy. The taxpayers voice their options through their elected Congressman and Senators. If you don't like the way they vote, don't re-elect them.

And dlb5, Gays like blacks are born gay and ordained gay also. It is NOT A CHOSEN LIFESTYLE.

Posted by: sfspec | May 26, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

What is shameful is being forced to do something that, yet again, another majority do not want changed and this President seems hell bent on changing everything good to bad.

Polls show 70% of the american people want gays to serve openly in the military. Exactly what right wing talk shows are you listening to?

Posted by: igsoper | May 27, 2010 11:36 PM | Report abuse

It's funny how conservatives arguments mirror those made in 1948 when President Truman desegregated the military.

Posted by: sgtpepper23 | May 28, 2010 1:03 AM | Report abuse

Poll after poll shows that Americans, in excess of 70%, favor ending Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

If there are young men - or older men - in the military who are so set in their ways and so unable to function in the environment where there are people around them who are different from them can only express their discomfort through violent acts, perhaps it's time they left the military. Once out of the military, they can seek psychological counseling to help them deal with their violent tendencies.

The only members of NATO that do not permit gays and lesbians to serve openly and with honor are the United States and Turkey.

I am sick to death of institutionalized bigotry which is what DADT is. It's going to end. Thank God.

Posted by: jothomp | May 28, 2010 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Personally I am not in favor of the ban of the DADT (Don’t ask, don’t tell). I think that this is something stupid to repeal it; I think that DADT is a good way to keep people focus on their military duty instead of their sexual preferences.
But my opinion should only reflect the values that I have chosen to live with, the views that I have on the subject and I SHOULD HAVE NO SAY ON THE SUBJECT since I am not active in the army and don’t live the issue.
So who should be concerned? Obama (Even if I have voted for him) or any other politicians should have no say on the question (You cannot trust politicians anyway).
This is a definition that I have found on the web about politician: a person primarily interested in political office for selfish or other narrow usually shortsighted reasons
The public should not be concerned and SHOULD HAVE NO SAY about the DADT.
So whom the subject should concern? How about the heterosexuals and homosexuals that are currently serving in the army and experiencing the issue. They are the one who are going to live with it.

So for all the homosexuals in your face or heterosexuals that are not concerned by the problem, please don’t get involved in something that don’t even understand and let the heterosexuals and homosexuals on active duty decide for themselves.

Posted by: TerrenceHills | May 29, 2010 9:25 AM | Report abuse

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