February 03, 2010
A policy that's working? Really?
Posted by: Chris
That seems to be the Republican party line on Don't Ask Don't Tell, despite the discharge of some 13,500 service members, at a cost of millions in training and impaired military readiness, since the policy was adopted in 1993. Here is Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach reacting on last night's Rachel Maddow show to John McCain's cynical defense of Don't Ask Don't Tell:
We could not have better spokespeople on this issue, and you can add Dan Choi's passionate advocacy to the list. Also I strongly recommend a post over at Pam's House Blend by Justin Elzie, a "Marine of the Year" discharged in the early days of Don't Ask Don't Tell, who I had the honor to represent as a young lawyer at the D.C. firm of Covington & Burling.
Elzie reminds all of us that civil rights movements are really fought at the margins of change. The question isn't whether we will be allowed to serve openly in the military and marry legally. The question is when:
Right now there are some that are willing to stay with the status quo of gradualism and compromise. For instance, in our own community this week one person said on CNN that an option worth exploring would be allowing the Department of Defense to retain the flexibility to implement repeal along a moderate timeline of months.
The truth is that if DADT was lifted tomorrow, we would wake up the next day and the military would still go on with no detriment to morale. For someone in our community to suggest and support a delay and sensitivity to the military leadership's privacy concerns only helps validate this erroneous argument that gays would be detrimental to the military in closed quarters. The naked truth of a delayed implementation plan is that it is an accommodation for the straight male's uncomfortability with gays in the military. It doesn't make sense to have a ramp up or a go-slow approach implementation plan when thousands of LGBT personnel are already there. If we waited until every person in the military was comfortable with gays, repeal of DADT wouldn't happen. Gradualism emboldens our opponents.
Gradualism for accommodation is a problem in that there will always be an excuse. In 1993, a compromise was hatched and gave us DADT and it has reigned for 17 years now. We have waited too long and it is time for it to be over.
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