Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (AKA DADT) sounds stupid, prima facie, and is stupid. Look most of our NATO allies and Israel have allowed gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military for years. No one thinks that Israel’s armed forces are less tough as a result, do they? The sky managed not to fall. Everyone just went about their bidness.

Here’s a snip from way back in 1992, the last time we tried to wrap our national heads around this. Compare our country’s officially hostile-to-homosexuals attitude to those of our allies almost 20 years ago:

The Netherlands, in contrast, has among the most liberal policies toward homosexuals. “There is no policy because they are treated in the same way as any other people,” a Defense Ministry spokesman in The Hague said.

Last Saturday, the Dutch Defense Minister, Relus Tar Beek, addressed an annual Special Day for Gays organized by a foundation called Homosexuals in the Armed Forces. “He told them that our only military criterion is quality,” the spokesman said. “Homosexuality is not an issue here.”

Germany also has no anti-homosexual legislation, and therefore homosexuals cannot be excluded from the armed forces, although homosexual relations between military personnel while on duty are illegal. “What you do off base or in off-duty hours is your business,” a Defense Ministry spokesman in Bonn said. “Discretion is the code word.”

Sounds reasonable and low drama right? Apparently even old fuddy-duddy Colin Powell has decided to get modern and get out of the way of treating people like…people. We’ve lost some really great soldiers over the witch hunt that DADT has created.

From NYTimes’ The Caucus:

Gen. Colin L. Powell, who as the nation’s top military officer in the 1990s opposed allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military, switched gears today and threw his support behind efforts to end the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law he helped shepherd in.

“In the almost 17 years since the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ legislation was passed, attitudes and circumstances have changed,” General Powell said in a statement issued by his office. He added: “I fully support the new approach presented to the Senate Armed Services Committee this week by Secretary of Defense Gates and Admiral Mullen.”

Robert M. Gates, the defense secretary, and Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told lawmakers on Tuesday that they supported President Obama’s proposal to repeal the 1993 law forbidding gay men and women to be open about their sexuality while serving in uniform.

Admiral Mullen was the first Joint Chiefs chairman ever to take that position, signaling the evolution in attitudes both inside the military and in the broader society since the debate under President Bill Clinton.

This is partly a generational thing. For Generation X and younger, it’s rare to find someone who hasn’t had a gay friend, known someone who was gay, had a gay boss or have seen someone on TV or in the movies who is gay. It’s just not that big a deal to us. No one cares if you’re gay. It’s more likely to elicit a shrug than a shudder. And DADT is hurting us militarily.

Here’s a few facts to back that up (courtesy SLDN):

  • 73 percent of military personnel are comfortable with lesbians and gays (Zogby International, 2006).
  • The younger generations, those who fight America’s 21st century wars, largely don’t care about whether someone is gay or not-and they do not link job performance with sexual orientation.
  • One in four U.S. troops who served in Afghanistan or Iraq knows a member of their unit who is gay (Zogby, 2006).
  • Seventy-five percent of Americans support gays serving openly – up from just 44 percent in 1993 (ABC News/Washington Post, 2008).
  • Majorities of weekly churchgoers (60 percent), conservatives (58 percent), and Republicans (58 percent) now favor repeal (Gallup, 2009).
  • The military has discharged almost 800 mission-critical troops and at least 59 Arabic and nine Farsi linguists under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in the last five years.

Currently the Obama Administration is doing some sort of a study or something to see how getting rid of DADT will impact the U.S. military and is also suspending kicking soldiers out of the armed forces due to DADT. That’s nice. I suppose it’s the frog in a pot of slowly heating water theory – the nation’s last remaining bigots on this issue just need time to get used to the idea — must be the thinking.  It’s progress forward, but I’d just as soon see tolerance today and DADT dismantled as soon as possible. It’s never too early to do the right thing…

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