Midterms will determine the fate of 'don't ask, don't tell'
The repeal of "don't ask, don't tell," policy that mandates the discharge of openly gay, lesbian, or bisexual members of the armed services is not on the ballot in any of the fifty states or the District of Columbia Tuesday. But the legislative fate of don't ask, don't tell will probably be determined by the outcome of this year's voting.
If, as expected, the House swings Republican and the GOP gains strength in the Senate, the chances of don't ask, don't tell being repealed in the next Congress are slim to none. Republican opposition to this year's House-passed amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that could have lead to the repeal of DADT early next year is proof that a GOP-enhanced Congress spell's death to repeal.
Unless Senate Democrats make a last-ditch effort to push through repeal during the lame duck session, before the new Congress is seated in January, the legislative route appears doomed. Given the short time frame before adjournment and the heat such a tactic would generate, don't ask, don't tell is likely to remain the law of the land, at least for the next few years.
And that is why it is wrong to turn to Congress and the world of partisan politics to uphold the principle that the current policy against gays is unconstitutional.
Don't ask, don't tell is indefensible. As a former U.S. Army officer who served with members that I and other service members believed to be gay, I can say that our standards of military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion and national security were not affected one bit by the presence of gay service members. As was my time served as an international banker, congressional staffer, federal civil servant, and journalist. What the hell does sexual orientation have to do with work?
The rights of lesbian and gay service members should not be determined by what happens at the polls today. If, as an African American, my rights had been left to past Congresses to determine, I might still be behind a plow.
Sadly, that's where gays may find themselves after Tuesday.
| November 2, 2010; 11:12 AM ET
Categories: King | Tags: Colbert King
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