I think it should be obvious – even to Sen. McCain – that DADT is going to be repealed at some point whether anyone likes it or not. That repeal can be a purposeful one, implemented in a way in which the military can decide on a timeline and methodology by which to do so, or it can be by a court order that will end it immediately and not allow the military any control of the transition.
The Pentagon’s DADT study was recently published and it essentially concluded that most troops really don’t care about gays serving openly. That sentiment mirrors what most of the country feels as well. The Pentagon report concluded that the threat to the force of repeal is “low”.
As I’ve said for years, when the dominant culture concludes sexual orientation isn’t relevant to job performance, that would eventually filter into the military. If the Pentagon’s study is to be believed, that’s happened.
I’m reminded of one NCO who essentially boiled down the issue in a way that best reflects my feelings. I’m paraphrasing, but he said that in the military there are two types of soldiers – those that are squared away and those that are dirt bags. If a soldier is squared away he wants him, and he doesn’t really give a rip what his sexual orientation might be. If he’s a dirt bag he wants him gone, and again that means straight or gay.
The top leadership in the military seems prepared to make the change. The majority of the military, as reflected in the study’s numbers, seem prepared to make the change. The experience of other nations, to include Israel, seem to indicate little risk in its implementation.
One of the things both sides have trotted out at various times in an effort to score political points when considering military issues is we should “listen to the generals”. In this case I think that’s exactly right. Repeal it and let them implement what is necessary to make the transition as painless as possible. Refusing to do so leaves only the courts as an alternative. And the courts aren’t going to give a rip about “transitions” or “time lines”, etc. They’re going to order it stopped now.
John McCain said he was “open” to abiding by what the Pentagon study concluded. That was apparently when he believed it would conclude something completely different than it did. As far as I’m concerned, we’re making official something that has been the military’s dirty little secret for centuries. That is we who have held command in the military have always pretty much done precisely what the NCO I paraphrased above said. If you’ve been in the military for anytime at all, you’ve been in units in which gay soldiers served. You knew it. Everyone else knew it. They knew you knew. But as long as they showed up every day, in proper uniform, did their job to the utmost of their ability – i.e. “soldiered” – no one cared.
That should be the only standard by which we judge our soldiers, and we should make it the sole standard as soon as possible.