Ending 'don't ask, don't tell' seems inevitable. But not soon.
US society and the Pentagon are moving toward ending the ban on gays serving openly in the military. But powerful lawmakers want to keep the 1993 law, and it may be other conservatives who convince them that times have changed.
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But Lawrence Korb, a retired Naval Reserve captain who served in the Reagan administration as assistant secretary of defense, says, “There is … no credible evidence supporting the underlying arguments for retaining the law – namely that it would undermine unit cohesion and military effectiveness”Skip to next paragraph
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“In fact,” he continues, “government studies over the past 50 years demonstrate just the opposite.”
“The British, Australian and Israeli militaries all now have solid experience with open gays in uniform,” writes Ken Adelman, a Reagan-era ambassador and arms control director, in the Washington Post . “Their forces don't suffer in performance; the gay service members there don't seem to upset the straight members much. And U.S. forces, though far greater in numbers, don't differ culturally or functionally too much from their colleagues in these militaries.”
Public attitudes shifting
Meanwhile, public attitudes continue to shift in the direction of ending DADT.
Seventy-five percent of Americans in a 2008 Washington Post-ABC News poll said gay people who are open about their sexual orientation should be allowed to serve in the U.S. military, up from 62 percent in early 2001 and 44 percent in 1993. That included majorities of Republicans as well as Democrats and independents.
Still, powerful voices on Capitol Hill are speaking out forcefully against any change regarding military service and sexual orientation.
McCain seems not to have remembered that it was his political mentor – Barry Goldwater, the former Arizona senator and major general in the US Air Force Reserve who was known as “Mr. Conservative” – who once said, "Everyone knows that gays have served honorably in the military since at least the time of Julius Caesar. … You don't have to be straight to be in the military; you just have to be able to shoot straight."
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