This morning, the Service Chiefs presented a difference in opinion about their views on repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in the lame duck session of Congress, but all four suggested that they feared that the courts could strike down the ban and force the Armed Forces to implement repeal without adequate preparation. The Chiefs implied that they supported repeal eventually, but had concerns about lifting the ban during a time of war.
Picking up on this argument, Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) — a strong proponent of repeal — said that the amendment included in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) offered the perfect compromise: the certification process provides the military with the flexibility not to implement repeal right away, while undermining the possibility that the courts would force the Armed Forces to act quickly. Every Service Chief agreed that they were comfortable that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates would take their concerns into consideration before certifying repeal and admitted that they could effectively implement the policy change.
Yesterday, Gates said that “until the Service Chiefs are comfortable that the risks to unit cohesion and combat effectiveness of a change have been addressed to their satisfaction and to my satisfaction, I would not sign the certification.”
The experiences of the 25 nations that allow open service suggest that the Chiefs’ concerns about lifting the ban are overstated. As the Palm Center has pointed out, “in many of those countries, debate before the policy changes was highly pitched and many people both inside and outside the military predicted major disruptions.” In Britain and Canada, for instance, “roughly two thirds of military respondents in polls said they would refuse to serve with open gays, but when inclusive policies were implemented, no more than three people in each country actually resigned.” “Research has uniformly shown that transitions to policies of equal treatment without regard to sexual orientation have been highly successful and have had no negative impact on morale, recruitment, retention, readiness or overall combat effectiveness.” Read their full report HERE.
Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA), long considered a swing vote on repeal, has issued a statement saying that he now supports lifting the ban
I pledged to keep an open mind about the present policy on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Having reviewed the Pentagon report, having spoken to active and retired military service members, and having discussed the matter privately with Defense Secretary Gates and others, I accept the findings of the report and support repeal based on the Secretary’s recommendations that repeal will be implemented only when the battle effectiveness of the forces is assured and proper preparations have been completed.