Today truly is an historic day for the military. As Dan posted earlier this morning, cloture was reached on a bill sponsored by hawk Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Susan Collins (R-ME) (<--notice no "D" in there) and minutes ago the full Senate voted 65-31 to enact the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010". I'm very pleased for a few reasons: First of all, this happened fairly. While there's an argument that this was thrust into the waning (and flailing) moments of a lame-duck session of the legislature, given the way the vote came down, it would likely have passed in the next Congress anyway, save for the leadership's likely reluctance to bring it to a vote in the first place. In that sense, there's a bit more democracy going on here in that the majority who would vote for it actually did get a chance to have the vote today that they probably wouldn’t have gotten in the 112th Congress next year.
Another aspect of fairness is that it passed on a stand-alone basis, not tucked into the Defense Authorization Bill as Harry Reid had tried to do earlier. By tying such a monumental act to an authorization bill that must be passed every year, Sen. Reid displayed his typical underhandedness and craven lack of integrity that in the end turned out to not even be necessary. That this vote was on its own bill shows the type of transparent and out-in-the-open nature of government that the Tea Parties were trying to achieve. It’s a shame that it came only after Sen. Reid’s back-room bargaining failed. In the end, though, baby-steps…
Third, I cannot express how grateful I am that this didn’t happen at the rap of a judge’s gavel. Nothing could have been more destructive than had our military been forced to make this change not because our commanders had been directed to do so by our elected civilian leaders, but by judicial fiat. Simply put, the judicial branch is not (despite this Administration’s obsession with trying our enemies in civilian courts) charged with, nor does it have the temperament for, taking on the responsibility of national security. While all would agree that the policy is discriminatory, that in and of itself is a very very poor reason to make such a huge change to policy. For example, the ADA doesn’t quite apply to the military, now, does it? On the other hand, give me a truly national-defense reason for considering applying it so, and I (and all military commanders) will be all ears.
Also, while the actual voting seemed to come up quickly, this action was actually very soberly taken and with great deliberation and thought. When the DoD commissioned a survey and the Secretary of Defense implored Congress to wait until that survey’s results and the larger study’s recommendations could be made on how to implement repeal, many looked at the calendar (after the election in which everybody knew the Democrats would lose much power) and sighed. However, patience has paid off and many minds (including those of some Senators’) were changed as a result of the study. Serious thought and concern for our military and the impacts of this action led many of our civilian leaders to support this repeal. Had the activists at HRC (and, yes, LCR also) had their way, this would have been rammed through this summer or fall before the study was made public. The result would have been certain defeat as the effort would have been seen as what it would have been: Another attempt to once again rush through legislation before we’ve had a chance to come up for air and think (and talk) it over.
Finally, and most consequentially, I’m pleased for our Nation. As I’ve stated many times in the past, DADT is a policy that puts our national security at risk. Forget all the whining and pleas about how “unfair” and “bigoted” the policy is. Set aside the childish theatrics of chaining oneself to the White House gate in order to stand up for your “rights” (which, apparently to some, include service in the military for some reason). And let go of the false premise that the policy either drummed out an inordinate number of troops or otherwise dissuaded so many from enlistment in the first place (both are extremely broad generalizations that don’t stand up to statistical rigor). After this repeal is implemented and gay men and women are allowed to openly serve, as I’ve mentioned before, those with security clearances will no longer be blackmailable (for being homosexual, that is) and therefore no longer pose that threat to national security.
As I’ve maintained from the beginning of this debate, the real reason for repeal of this policy should be rooted in national security. While I regret that, even up to the end (as I watched speeches on C-SPAN2), that argument was rarely raised, and when so, was poorly made, the end result will be that national security is strengthened. In these days of Wikileaks and our lowest-ranking members having access to our highest-priority information, removing this security risk is vital.
I’ve got some more thoughts on this, and I’ll be writing a lot this weekend and over the next few weeks as the policy is hashed out in practical terms. But for now, let’s enjoy the knowledge that our nation will be that much more safe as this security threat will soon be removed.
-Nick (ColoradoPatriot, from TML)