A new report released today by four retired senior military officers endorses a repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT). The study, sponsored by the Palm Center in California, marks “the first time a Marine Corps general has ever called publicly for an end to the gay ban.” From its findings:
– The law locks the military’s position into stasis and does not accord any trust to the Pentagon to adapt policy to changing circumstances.
– “Don’t ask, don’t tell” has forced some commanders to choose between breaking the law and undermining the cohesion of their units.
– “Don’t ask, don’t tell” has prevented some gay, lesbian, and bisexual service members from obtaining psychological and medical care as well as religious counseling.
– “Don’t ask, don’t tell” has caused the military to lose some talented service members.
– Military attitudes towards gays and lesbians are changing.
– Evidence shows that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly is unlikely to pose any significant risk to morale, good order, discipline, or cohesion.
The Palm Center’s report also notes that DADT is outdated, as many “gays, lesbians, and bisexuals are serving openly” in the military already. The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network reports more than 500 U.S. soldiers who are “out” to their colleagues and continue to serve. A December 2006 survey of servicemembers who had served in Iraq or Afghanistan found that 73 percent of those polled were “comfortable with lesbians and gays.”
General John Shalikashvili, the former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman who previously favored DADT but reversed course last year in an op-ed in the New York Times, endorsed the study, saying it “ought to be given serious consideration by both Congress and the Joint Chiefs.”
In the past year, there has been increased interest in repealing DADT. Former senator Sam Nunn, once a powerful advocate for the ban, recently said that it may be “appropriate” to consider repealing it. In May, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen told graduating cadets at the U.S. Military Academy that the military was ready to accept gay servicemembers if Congress repeals the law.