It looks like President Obama has indeed laid the groundwork for repeal of Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell. A friend e-mailed me a post from the lefty blog Think Progress that details steps the Administration is taking to make it easier for gay people to serve openly in the military:
In a Senate hearing tomorrow, the first in 17 years on the issue, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen “will unveil the Pentagon’s initial plans for carrying out a repeal, which requires an act of Congress.” Gates and Mullen are “not expected to offer a specific legislative proposal to repeal the law, but rather to detail some of the preliminary steps that need to be taken inside the military in advance of formulating a legislative plan.” “A special investigation into how the ban can be repealed without hurting the morale or readiness of the troops was expected to be announced” at the hearing tomorrow, a process that could “take the better part of this year to complete.” In the meantime, a senior Pentagon official tells CNN that Gates will discuss at the hearing options for more “humanely” implementing the current ban.
While the Administration still hasn’t developed a legislative path forward, we do at least see efforts to mitigate the impact of the ban. A step forward, to be sure, but not the full measure of progress we need.
Importantly, Gates and Mullen are taking the steps that should have been taken seventeen years ago when Bill Clinton rushed to repeal the ban on gays serving in the military. They should investigate how to repeal the ban while ensuring the morale and readiness of our troops.
That investigation should help bring Republicans like incoming Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown on board (given his recent interview with Barbara Walters) and perhaps even John McCain, given his interview with the Washington Blade during the 2008 presidential campaign. Thus, the investigation should make it easier for Congress to vote on repeal. Socially moderate, pro-military Republicans are more likely to favor repeal when they have solid evidence from our military commanders that lifting the ban will not hurt troop morale.
Kudos to the folks at Think Progress for such a thorough report on efforts to repeal the ban as well as the effect of this unnecessary policy and the resistance to change. Their post merits your attention.