After two days of hearings, repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has increased momentum thanks to testimony from senior civilian and uniformed military leadership who have advocated for repeal as well as pledged to successfully implement any change Congress chooses to make.
Yesterday, the Senate Armed Services Committee heard testimony on the Pentagon’s Comprehensive Working Group report on implementation of DADT repeal which showed that troops by and large did not forsee insurmountable challenges with repeal. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen, General Carter Ham and Pentagon General Counsel Jeh Johnson all made clear that there are few hurdles to implementation of open service by gays and lesbians and that they were confident that the military would execute such a repeal without long-term consequences.
Then today, the Chiefs of the military services all expressed that they would successfully implement “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal should Congress change the law. Testifying were General James Cartwright, General George Casey, Admiral Gary Roughead, General James Amos, General Norton Schwartz and Admiral Robert Papp.
Among the six testifying, three expressed that the law should be repealed and three gave a mixed reaction, expressing some opposition to repeal at this time. Only one – Marine Commandant General James Amos – expressed his opinion that there could be strong disruption. In contrast his fellow Marine, General Cartwright, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, made clear that not only could Marines carry out successful repeal but also there was “benefit derived from being a force identified by honesty & inclusivity.” General Amos did however express that he and his Marines would “faithfully support the law.”
In contrast to Committee Ranking Member John McCain, all of the service chiefs expressed confidence in the report of the Pentagon’s Comprehensive Working Group. It is one of more than twenty studies from both the military and outside organizations that make an ironclad case for repeal.
Senators said they wanted to hear from military leaders and now they have their answers. The highest ranks of the Pentagon made clear that repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ will allow every qualified man and woman to serve without sacrificing the high standards that have made our military great. The small handful of Senators blocking repeal no longer have any fig leaves behind which to hide.
America’s men and women in uniform are professionals who already serve with gays and lesbians and repeal will do nothing to change their dedication to protecting our nation. The working group found clearly that military effectiveness will not be compromised by removing this stain on our service members’ integrity.
After more than twenty studies from both the military and outside organizations, it is time for this debate to close. Further, a failure of Congress to act now will tie the hands of military leaders who have asked for the power to implement the changes that their research lays out. The time for repeal is now.
The full Senate could take up the defense bill to which DADT repeal is attached as soon as next week. TAKE ACTION now to contact your Senators and tell them it’s time to get rid of this law that has harmed our national security.