President Obama will end the 15-year-old “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that has prevented homosexual and bisexual men and women from serving openly within the U.S. military, a spokesman for the president-elect said.
Obama said during the campaign that he opposed the policy, but since his election in November he has made statements that have been interpreted as backpedaling. On Friday, however, Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs, responding on the transition team’s Web site to a Michigan resident who asked if the new administration planned to get rid of the policy, said:
“You don’t hear politicians give a one-word answer much. But it’s ’Yes.’ ”
Once this gets noticed there will be a chorus on the right bemoaning the destruction of the American military.
This overlooks two facts:
1) Thousands of LGBT Americans are already serving in the US military, in most cases with the knowledge and tacit support of their heterosexual comrades. If you don't believe me, that only suggests you didn't serve for long, or that you are not exceptionally observent.
2) The American military follows orders. I am reminded of reporters who asked cadets at the Virginia Military Institute what would happen when the courts ruled that women were to be admitted to VMI. You will remember that cadets at the Citadel hazed the first woman cadet out of the school. Cadets at VMI also opposed the change. But when a senior cadet officer was asked about what would happen, he said, "We'll follow orders. There will be no hazing of women here. We will help them become the very best cadets they can be." People who tell you that our soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen will be demoralized by the presence of openly LBGT comrades are the philosophical descendants of those who said, in turn, that neither the Irish, nor the Catholics, nor the Jews, nor the African-Americans, nor the women should be allowed to serve.
That President-elect Obama intends to keep this promise is excellent news (although there is still that troublingly opportunistic reversal on gay marriage ... but nobody's perfect).