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While Prop 8 Takes Center Stage, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Is About To Explode On The White House

by David Badash on January 15, 2010

in Civil Rights,Discrimination,News

Post image for While Prop 8 Takes Center Stage, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Is About To Explode On The White House

Military Still Kicking The Can Down The Road

No doubt, the federal Proposition 8 trial in San Francisco is in the media spotlight this week. But reports are coming through fast and furious about an intentionally leaked Pentagon “memo,” talk again of kicking repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” down the road, and even – get this – segregating gay and lesbian service members away from their straight counterparts’ showers. Yes, I said showers.

Via the AP:

“Now is not the time,” the in-house legal counsel for Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wrote recently in a memorandum obtained by The Associated Press. “The importance of winning the wars we are in, along with the stress on the force, our body of knowledge and the number of unknowns, demand that we act with deliberation.”

(Gotta love “the number of unknowns” – it’s like Rumsfeld never left.)

To which AmericaBlog responds,

“The importance of winning the wars? And that won’t be an issue next year? The stress on the force? You mean there will be more stress on the force if we provide them with more men and women, with more Arabic translators? There will be more stress if we stop the anti-gay witch hunts and focus on the mission? The forces are already so stressed, because we don’t have enough troops, that the Army is forcing women to put their children in foster care. But no, God forbid we let the gay troops take up the slack.”

Over on our side, The Advocate reports,

“…a closed-door meeting of about 20-25 LGBT advocates took place Wednesday at the Human Rights Campaign Headquarters in Washington to discuss strategy for repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

“The two-hour long meeting was unusual in that it assembled the advisers to major LGBT political donors from outside the Beltway such as Tim Gill, Jon Stryker and David Bohnett alongside DC-based lobby groups such as HRC, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, the Center for American Progress, and The Palm Center as well as lobbyists with ties to the White House and Congress.

“The gathering resulted from a growing sense of urgency that 2010 is a make-or-break moment for repealing the military’s gay ban and that the White House would likely make a decision about how to move forward on “don’t ask, don’t tell” sometime in the next several weeks.”

Back to the Times:

“Despite the uncertainty of timing, another military official said that the Department of Defense was beginning to look at the practical implications of a repeal — for example, whether it would be necessary to change shower facilities and locker rooms because of privacy concerns, whether to ban public displays of affection on military bases and what to do about troops who are stationed or make port calls in nations that outlaw homosexuality.”

John Aravosis offers the money quote of the entire issue:

“It’s disturbing that the Pentagon is even talking about this, first of all because gays and lesbians are already in the Pentagon’s showers and barracks. So this is a non-issue. The fact that the Pentagon doesn’t realize this is simply bizarre. Second, why are we still talking about showers – what is this, 1993? And third, Barack Obama’s Pentagon is actually discussing whether an African-American president should endorse the “separate but equal” segregation of a minority? Seriously?”

Now, in five days Barack Obama will have been president for exactly one year. Just ten months ago, you’ll remember, President Obama stunned the world by calling for 21,000 additional troops “to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al-Qaida in Pakistan and Afghanistan.” But days later, despite a White House that stated,

“President Obama agrees with former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff John Shalikashvili and other military experts that we need to repeal the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. The key test for military service should be patriotism, a sense of duty, and a willingness to serve. Discrimination should be prohibited.

“The U.S. government has spent millions of dollars replacing troops kicked out of the military because of their sexual orientation. Additionally, more than 300 language experts have been fired under this policy, including more than 50 who are fluent in Arabic. The President will work with military leaders to repeal the current policy and ensure it helps accomplish our national defense goals.”

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates saw fit to respond with,

“I think the president and I feel like we’ve got a lot on our plates right now and let’s push that one down the road a little bit.”

Well, it’s been almost a year, and the military is “pushing that one down the road a little bit” again. It must be an awfully long road.

President Obama agrees with former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff John Shalikashvili and other military experts that we need to repeal the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. The key test for military service should be patriotism, a sense of duty, and a willingness to serve. Discrimination should be prohibited.
The U.S. government has spent millions of dollars replacing troops kicked out of the military because of their sexual orientation. Additionally, more than 300 language experts have been fired under this policy, including more than 50 who are fluent in Arabic. The President will work with military leaders to repeal the current policy and ensure it helps accomplish our national defense goals.
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