Yesterday, Rep. Susan Davis’ (D-CA) House Subcommittee on Military Personnel held a hearing with the co-chairs of Pentagon’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Working Group. The panel will survey soldiers’ attitudes about serving alongside gay and lesbian troops and make recommendations for how the military can repeal the policy without sacrificing unit readiness or cohesion. “We envision outreach through social media so that a wide variety of individuals both within the Department of Defense and without who will have views on this matter have an opportunity for their voice to be heard,” General Carter Ham, one of the working group’s co-chairs, said.
But this afternoon, in an interview with the Wonk Room, Davis stressed that the personal opinions of military members — who already serve alongside gay and lesbian soldiers — would not determine the policy:
DAVIS: There is something to be said for reaching out to the service members and even their families. But I think that we all know that that’s really, you know, it’s like other surveys that are done in the military, but perhaps not conclusive, in terms of the policies that are taken. It’s not usual for us to go to the military and to have necessarily them believe that their personal feelings are going to determine the policy that moves forward.
Davis recalled that the President Truman desegregated the armed forces despite the military’s opposition to integration and allowed women in without regard to military or public opinion. “We’ve had to do a number of things in the military in terms of, you know integrating women, and certainly integrating — racial integration. And I think while it’s good to know about how people care about these things, I think it’s also important that we recognize the validity of the policy itself and I think that’s what the Congress really needs to focus on,” she said.
Asked if she would settle for a moratorium if repeal failed in the Senate, Davis said, “we want to go for repeal, but it is important that they look at some of the issues around discharges.” “I think it would be a good idea if they put discharges on hold right now, I think that’s fine, but the goal is to repeal the policy.”