Andrew Sullivan with a round-up.
And the report is absolutely clear that straight servicemembers by large majorities have few problems with openly gay servicemembers. 69 percent of them acknowledge they have fought or worked alongside gay men and women already. A staggering 92 percent of those were fine with lifting the ban. Again: when you know someone is gay, all the fears and stereotypes tend to evaporate. This is not a surprise. The men and women of the US military are among the finest in the land; they want to do the job at hand, not deepen social division or posture politically. They are not bigots. I note one colorful quote from a special ops fighter:
“We have a gay guy [in the unit]. He’s big, he’s mean, and he kills lots of bad guys. No one cared that he was gay.”
And why would they? The other critical point is the inherent conservatism of many gay servicemembers. The last thing they would want to do is make a fuss about their orientation. The overwhelming majority will stay largely closeted in the workplace and battlefield – not out of fear but because it is irrelevant, and they are discreet kinds of people. Rand found that “even if Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell were repealed, only 15% of gay and lesbian Service members would like to have their sexual orientation known to everyone in their unit.”
It turns out that although 30% of respondents think that repealing DADT would affect their unit’s ability to train well together (a number that shows up pretty consistently on every question about the effect of repeal), only 10% think it would affect their own readiness and only 20% think it would affect their ability to train well. In other words, there’s pretty good reason to think that even the 30% number is overstated. It seems to include a fair number of people who are assuming that DADT repeal would have a negative effect on other people even though it wouldn’t have a negative effect on them. My guess is that a lot of this is reaction to a small number of vocal traditionalists, which makes opposition to repeal seem like a bigger deal than it is.
Jeh Johnson, the Pentagon’s chief counsel, agrees, saying that surveys about personnel changes “tend to overestimate negative consequences, and underestimate the U.S. military’s ability to adapt and incorporate within its ranks the diversity that is reflective of American society at large.” I suspect he’s right. In the end, real opposition is probably more in the range of 10-20% than 30%, and even that will probably produce nothing more serious than occasional grumbling and discomfort for a year or two at most. There’s really no further excuse for inaction. It’s time for Barack Obama and the Democratic leadership to figure out a way to cut a deal and get repeal passed before Congress recesses.
John McCormack at The Weekly Standard:
Early reports on the Pentagon’s survey of the troops on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” were nothing but roses for repeal supporters, but the details of the survey complicate that narrative somewhat. While only 20% of troops who have never been deployed to a combat zone say that repeal of DADT would “very negatively” or “negatively” affect their “immediate unit’s effectiveness at completing its mission,” more than 44% of combat troops say repeal would have a negative impact on unit effectiveness:
An exception to the pattern was the response of Service members deployed to a combat zone now or in the past to the circumstance of being “in a field environment or out to sea.” Among all Service members in this group, 44.3% (and 59.4% of Marines—see Q71a in Appendix E) said performance would be “very negatively/negatively” affected in this situation. Of note, among all survey items related to the review’s major subject areas, this item had the highest percentage of Service members reporting negative perceptions about the impact of a repeal.
About 11% of all combat troops surveyed said repeal would “positively” or “very positively” affect performance, while 19% said repeal would have “no effect.” Another 26% of combat troops surveyed said repeal’s affect wold be “equally as positively as negatively.” These troops–who see both negative and positive effects of repeal–are lumped together with those who believe it will have “no effect” under the survey’s “neutral” category.
Spartan living conditions on combat zones may be one reason why combat troops see repeal more negatively than non-combat troops do
David Kurtz at Talking Points Memo:
Defense Secretary Bob Gates just called on Congress to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell before the end of the year — while asking that Congress give the military time to implement the change.
Asked by reporters how much time he would need, Gates conceded he didn’t know. But he indicated the the President would keep a close eye on the Pentagon and make sure it didn’t slow roll the implementation.
As expected, the Pentagon’s review of DADT found that repeal of the flawed policy would not have an adverse effect on unit morale or cohesion. But Gates’ unequivocal call for repeal by Congress was perhaps a surprise. The argument he made for repeal cuts particularly sharply for Republicans: if Congress doesn’t repeal DADT in orderly fashion, the federal courts may do it in a haphazard and disruptive way.
Commenting on the Pentagon report, Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, added, “We treat people with dignity and respect in the armed forces, or we don’t last long in the armed forces: No special cases, no special treatment.”
As for the larger legislative context, remember, Senate Republicans recently refused to even allow a debate on funding U.S. troops because they wanted to wait for this report. They took a gamble, of sorts — maybe the survey results would show servicemen and women agreeing with the GOP’s anti-gay animus, thus giving the party a boost fighting pro-repeal Democrats.
The gamble failed. We now know a majority of U.S. troops, a majority of U.S. civilians, a majority of the House, a majority of the Senate, the Commander in Chief, the Secretary of Defense, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs are all ready to see DADT repeal move forward.
If John McCain and other anti-gay senators hoped to gain some leverage, those hopes were in vain. They’ve run out of excuses. It’s time for the Senate to do the right and decent thing.
Remember, Democrats only need two Republicans — literally, just two — to break ranks. These GOP senators, if they exist, don’t even have to vote for the spending bill that includes the DADT provision; they just need to let the Senate vote up or own. If this report doesn’t lead two Republicans to drop the nonsense, nothing will.
Gabriel Arana at Tapped:
Two points. Part of the argument for keeping DADT — and the criticism that’s been directed at its opponents — has been that the military is special, that the rules for civil society are not the same as those necessary for a well-disciplined and effective military force. There’s some sense in this; it’s probably why, for instance, we don’t ask military members to vote on each tactical move they have to carry out, or leave the decision of whether the country goes to war to them. If the rights and responsibilities of military members need be different from those of civil society in any way, following decisions made along the chain of command seems to be the most important for maintaining cohesion. Surveying the troops about a policy matter is, in that light, a departure from the military M.O.
But the larger question is whether the rights of any minority group should be put up to a vote. In this case, the results of the study tip the scales in favor of repeal, but that needn’t have been the case — and it shouldn’t matter anyway. Anti-gay activists rely on the prejudice of voters to suppress minority rights — and call it undemocratic when a court rules that the electorate does not have a right to vote on issues like gay marriage or in this case the DADT repeal. But a fundamental feature of our democracy is that the system is reined in from pure mob rule by the (at least in theory) inalienable guarantees of the Constitution. You don’t want the Bill of Rights put up to a vote every time the courts want to extend its protections to a marginalized group, whether public opinion is on your side or not.