As advocates of repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) scramble to secure enough votes to pass a compromise that would delay implementation of a repeal until President Obama, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mike Mullen certify the results of the Defense Department’s study, religious groups and members of foreign militaries are throwing their support behind eliminating the policy.
Yesterday, a coalition of 10 major Jewish organizations, joined a growing number of religious organizations urging Congress to repeal DADT. “We believe this policy is unjust and become an anomaly among western nations,” the letter said. “Advanced militaries throughout the world, including many of our NATO allies and Israel, allow gay, lesbian and bisexual personnel to serve openly. It is time for the United States to repeal the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ and we encourage you and colleagues to act swiftly.”
Indeed, writing in today’s Politico, members of the Dutch, Swedish and British militaries explain how their nations successfully transitioned to an open policy and how DADT undermines military coalitions:
For example, units of our own or other armed forces have refused to deploy in some joint operations with U.S. forces because gay service members would not work with the Americans — for fear of hostile reactions….We are aware of colleagues in our own militaries who don’t like it that gays and lesbians serve openly. However, despite considerable fears before we enacted these policies, such attitudes are rare. In no cases, in fact, have negative private opinions about gay people undermined our ability to work with one another. Our service members are professionals who care, first and foremost, about the ability to do the job. Moral opposition to homosexuality, while real, is just not allowed to undercut our militaries’ missions. Nor do we think it will have any impact on yours after you repeal “Don’t ask, don’t tell.” [...]
In fact, our polls, rhetoric and even threats of mass resignations were quite similar to the continuing resistance in America. Yet none of the doomsday scenarios came true….We are also puzzled about repeated claims we heard in Washington about the need for more research on “Don’t ask, don’t tell.” There is more than enough on-the-ground experience, as well as serious social science research, showing what will happen when the U.S. military allow gays and lesbians to utter the words, “I am gay” without getting fired.
We are confident that, despite the unique nature of each culture and military, you will have a similar experience to ours — which is that ending discrimination against gay troops was a giant nothing.
Larry Korb has noted that the experiences of these nations suggest that repeal can and should occur swiftly. Three of the United States’ closest allies—Israel, Canada, and the United Kingdom—”have successfully removed all restrictions on gays and lesbians in their armed forces since the early 1990s.” All three countries made quick, successful transitions to policies of open service without undermining military readiness or effectiveness. In fact, 30 months “after the policy change, the United Kingdom conducted a tri-service review of its transition to open service. The response was unquestionably positive. The Royal Air Force reported that “the overwhelming view of RAF [Commanding Officers] is that the change in policy was overdue…All COs agreed that there had been no tangible impact on operational effectiveness, team cohesion, or Service life generally.”