Don’t ask don’t tell

November 22, 2008

Obama is undergoing some criticism for stating that he may not be able to move quickly to reverse the “don’t ask don’t tell” policy regarding gays in the military.  From the Washington Times:

will not move for months, and perhaps not until 2010, to ask Congress to end the military’s decades-old ban on open homosexuals in the ranks, two people who have advised the Obama transition team on this issue say.

Repealing the ban was an Obama campaign promise. However, Mr. Obama first wants to confer with the Joint Chiefs of Staff and his new political appointees at the Pentagon to reach a consensus and then present legislation to Congress, the advisers said.

Andrew Sullivan today posts a reader’s dissent of the criticism of Obama, to which Sullivan responds:

I mereky (sic) wanted to remind people that there are actual servicemembers involved here – defending us, risking their lives, or serving their country. Honoring their service means not treating them as if they were a contaminant.

Here is precisely what I was referencing below, an emotional appeal to designed to bring about results sans a discussion of the very real effects of the policy.  Appealing to our patriotism and love of our military may tug at your heart strings, but it says nothing of the actual policy.

While there may be many reasons to oppose DADT, a very real debate regarding gays in the military can and should take place.  The fact that being openly gay in the military will likely put gays in harm’s way seems to never cross people’s minds.  We’re told it’s about equal rights, whatever that means in this context.

Even if the decision would be made to allow openly gay individuals in the military, a whole new discussion would likely arise regarding what situations they should and should not allow to arise.  Should openly gay men be showering with and sleeping with others of the same sex?  If not, how do you get around that?  What about serving on extended deployments at sea?

DADT, while certainly worth of criticism and evaluation, seems like a semi-reasonable solution to a very real problem.