Moments ago, in a press conference announcing the results of the Pentagon’s 10-month review of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen, Working Group co-chairs Defense Department General Counsel Jeh C. Johnson and Army Gen. Carter F. Ham, concluded that the risk of repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell to overall military effectiveness is low and Gates even urged Congress to act on repeal before the Courts overturn the policy. “Now that we have completed this review, I strongly urge the Senate to pass this legislation and send it to the president for signature before the end of this year,” he said. “It is only a matter of time before the federal courts are drawn once more into the fray, with the very real possibility that this change would be imposed immediately by judicial fiat – by far the most disruptive and damaging scenario I can imagine, and the one most hazardous to military morale, readiness and battlefield performance.”
Johnson added that this resistance to repeal “is driven by misperceptions and stereotypes” and predicted that lifting the ban would not result in a mass coming out of gay troops. “We believe that most would continue to be private and discreet about their personal lives,” he said.
A summary of the results of the survey sent to 400,000 service members as outlined by the two chairmen:
- 70% of Service members said they would be able to “work together to get the job done” with a gay servicemember in their immediate units.
- 69% said they worked in a unit with a co-worker that they believed to be homosexual.
- 92% stated that their unit’s “ability to work together,” with a gay person was “very good, “good” or “neither good nor poor.” (89% for those in Army combat arms units, 84% for those in Marine combat arms units.)
- 74% of spouses of military service-members say repeal of DADT would have no impact on their view of whether their husbands or wives should continue to serve.
- 30% overall (and 40–60% in the Marine Corps and in various combat arms specialties) expressed negative views or concerns about the impact of a repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
Graph from the report (via JoeMyGod):
Their recommendations for implementation:
- LEADERSHIP AND EDUCATION: Implementation of repeal will depend upon strong leadership, a clear message, and proactive education. The report recommends equipping commanders in the field with the education and training tools to educate the force on what is expected of them in a post repeal environment.
- CODE OF CONDUCT: Not necessary to establish an extensive set of new or revised standards of conduct in the event of repeal. The Department of Defense should issue guidance that all standards of conduct apply uniformly, without regard to sexual orientation.
- RELIGIOUS OBJECTIONS: An important part of the message associated with any repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell should be that Service members will not be required to change their personal views and religious beliefs; they must, however, continue to respect and serve with others who hold different views and beliefs.
- BENEFITS TO SAME-SEX PARTNERS: While DOMA prevents same-sex partners form accessing many benefits, there are some benefits that are available to anyone of a Service member’s choosing. Department of Defense and the Services should inform Service members about these types of benefits, if the policy is repealed. Another set of benefits, which are not statutorily prohibited, but do not extend to same-sex partners under current regulation, should be revised and redefined to include same-sex partners. The Working Group does not, however, recommend that the DoD revise their regulations to specifically add same-sex committed relationships to the definition of “dependent,” “family members,” or other similar terms in those regulations, for purposes of extending benefits eligibility.
- REENLISTMENT: Service members who have been previously separated under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell be permitted to apply for reentry into the military.
Significantly, Johnson also argued that historically, surveys about personnel changes “tend to overestimate negative consequences, and underestimate the U.S. military’s ability to adapt and incorporate within its ranks the diversity that is reflective of American society at large.”
Indeed, as I reported back in July, surveys the military conducted about the troops’ attitudes towards black people between 1942 and 1946 showed that an overwhelming majority opposed integrating black servicemembers into the forces and preferred a “separate but equal” approach that would have required the military to construct separate recreation spaces and facilities. One month before Truman’s executive order, a Gallup poll showed that 63% of American adults endorsed the separation of Blacks and Whites in the military; only 26% supported integration. But in 1948, Truman integrated the forces despite these concerns. Here’s to hoping Congress can do the same, this time, with overwhelming support from military leadership and the men and women on the ground.
,SLDN: “This exhaustive report is overwhelmingly positive and constructive. The Pentagon validated what repeal advocates and social scientists have been saying about open service for over a decade. Still, some initial resistance may come from one or more of the service chiefs – the very leaders who will be charged with implementing this change. Those chiefs will need to salute and lead in bringing about this needed change. Fortunately, the chiefs have already made it clear they will do precisely that if Congress acts. Now, it’s up to the Senate to make repeal happen this year,” said Aubrey Sarvis, Army veteran and executive director for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.
,White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said the repeal of DADT “was discussed during Obama’s meeting with bipartisan lawmakers Tuesday. Gibbs says Obama believes the ban on gays in the military can be repealed in the lame-duck session of Congress.”
,Sens. Udall (CO), Lieberman, Gillibrand respond: “The Pentagon report makes it unambiguously clear that the risk of repeal on military effectiveness is minimal, that any risks can be addressed by implementing the report’s recommendations, and that a clear majority of active duty servicemen and women have no problem with repeal. The military has spoken and now is the time to repeal this policy that is damaging to our national security. The report is the product of one of the most, if not the most, extensive studies on a military personnel issue that has ever been conducted and its findings demonstrate that we can proceed with repeal of this discriminatory policy in a way that ensures that the U.S. military continues to be the best fighting force in the world. Men and women, regardless of their race, religion, or sexual orientation, who are willing to fight and defend our country should be allowed to do so without fear of discrimination.”