Tuesday, February 02, 2010

DADT to ease

I just read this on Boston.com that pentagon and the Obama administration are finally working to keep their promise to do away with DADT policy barring Gay and Lesbians from serving their country openly. To think that only patriotic member's of American society are evangelic republican Christians is utterly ridiculous, since I served honorably in the USN for 12 years. I never did anything to disgrace my uniform or country. I've been saying this for a few years now if you have been following this blog "STOP the Witchhunts and End Don't Ask, Don't Tell" it is a dumb policy and costs everyone.
Pentagon may ease ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’
Could reduce expulsions of gay service members; Some in Congress want to keep existing rules

By Bryan Bender, Globe Staff | February 2, 2010

WASHINGTON - Pentagon officials are expected to announce today that they will significantly relax enforcement of the ban on gays serving openly in the military, according to sources inside and outside the military who have been briefed on the plan.

The move, independent of Congress, comes a week after President Obama called on lawmakers to repeal the controversial “don’t ask, don’t tell’’ law.

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates and Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, are expected to announce at least two specific policy shifts: No longer will a “third party,’’ such as a spouse or informant outside the military, be able to prompt investigations of service members by saying they are gay; and only generals and admirals will be authorized to decide whether someone should be discharged for being gay. Such decisions are now often made lower in the chain of command.

By barring third-party testimony from initiating investigations of service members’ sexual orientation, the Pentagon could cut down on the “witch hunts’’ that gay rights advocates say have resulted in the ouster of soldiers who have followed the policy by keeping their private lives private.

Meanwhile, requiring more-senior officers to review proposed discharges would probably mean that fewer discharge cases - only those in which soldiers have flagrantly violated the policy - would be brought forward, according to specialists.

While expected to generate criticism in Congress and among conservative groups, the revisions could accelerate an evolving change in attitudes at the Pentagon.

Already, the number of gays and lesbians expelled from the military is dropping; last year’s total was the lowest on record, plunging by a third, and specialists said the new policies will drive those rates even lower.

“The executive action taken . . . could be seismic,’’ said Aaron Belkin, director of the Palm Center, a think tank at the University of California, Santa Barbara, that has long advocated for repeal of the gay ban. “Don’t ask, don’t tell has rested on the belief that the presence of openly gay service members is always bad for the military.’’

The new approach, he added, “would mean a shift in the military’s focus toward keeping gay troops, reflecting the military’s belief that they are as essential as their heterosexual peers.’’

The latest figures on discharges, obtained by the Globe yesterday, show that in fiscal year 2009, 428 service members were kicked out of the military under the terms of the 1993 so-called “don’t ask, don’t tell’’ law, which requires gay military members to keep their sexual orientation secret or risk expulsion.

The number of discharges last year was the lowest since the Pentagon began tabulating the annual data in 1996. The peak number of expulsions was 1,227 in 2001.

Some believe the lower discharge figures demonstrate a shift in philosophy among many commanding officers, who may now consider soldiers’ sexual orientation irrelevant, as long as they do their jobs.

“I think there is a pragmatic approach out in the field,’’ said Rudy deLeon, who served as undersecretary of defense for personnel in the Clinton administration. “The key element is whether this man or woman is doing the job and supporting me, rather than are they gay.’’

He likened the broader acceptance of gays in the ranks to the integration of blacks by presidential order in 1948. Initial resistance from some white officers melted away several years later during the Korean War, he said, when it became clear that blacks already serving in the military were more prepared to fight than fresh recruits.

“The second issue,’’ deLeon added, “is there is a generational divide. For younger persons, this is not as much of an issue.’’

Still, any moves to limit gay discharges or repeal the law are certain to spark a vigorous fight with opponents of allowing gays to serve openly, including influential members of Congress in both parties who have said in recent days that they oppose Obama’s calls for repealing the ban because they think it could harm military discipline in the midst of two wars.

Senator John McCain, a Republican of Arizona and senior member of the Armed Services Committee, has expressed opposition to changing the current policy and is expected to raise those concerns when Gates and Mullen appear before the committee today - the first testimony on the policy by high-ranking Pentagon officials in 17 years. McCain’s office did not respond to a request for comment yesterday.

Meanwhile, Representative Ike Skelton, the Missouri Democrat who chairs the House Armed Services Committee, which also has jurisdiction over the issue, has likewise said he is not prepared to back a repeal.

The “don’t ask, don’t tell’’ law was passed as a compromise after President Bill Clinton’s proposal to lift the ban on gays in the military in early 1993 backfired. Top officers and members of Congress resisted and polls showed a majority of Americans did not support the move.

Since then a growing number of military officers have said they believe that the policy, meant to preserve good order and discipline, actually undercut the military code of honor by forcing people to lie.

A number of conservative groups, however, are stepping up their efforts to fight a repeal, arguing that openly gay service members would undercut the warrior creed.

Tony Perkins, president of the conservative Family Research Council and a retired Marine Corps officer, said “the timing of the president’s call in the midst of two wars shows that he is willing to jeopardize our nation’s security to advance the agenda of the radical homosexual lobby.’’

The policy changes to be announced today are considered a first step in what Gates has called creating a more humane treatment for gay service members.

It comes as the Obama administration lobbies Congress to overturn the law, which has led to the discharge of an estimated 13,000 troops over the past 16 years.

Today’s expected announcement would not be the first time the Pentagon has taken steps to limit the discharge of gays. For example, prior to the 1991 Persian Gulf War, the Pentagon temporarily halted the gay discharge process, according to a forthcoming study published by the Air University at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama.

"Scholarly evidence shows that the ban on service by openly gay personnel is unlikely to impair military effectiveness or harm recruiting, retention, or unit cohesion,’’ according to the report. “Yet questions remain as to how best to execute and manage the transition from exclusion to inclusion of openly gay personnel in a way that takes into consideration the concerns and sensitivities of the military community."

DeLeon, for one, believes that the concerns are manageable.

“If we can manage the wedge politics, I think this problem is resolvable so that Americans who want to serve can serve, so that the readiness of the armed forces is protected and enhanced.’’


Bookmark and Share

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...