Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Don't Ask, Don't Tell

Now that Al Franken is the official junior-Senator from Minnesota (represent!), President Obama and Congress have a lot more pressure to get things done. One of these things is fulfilling Obama's promise to repeal "Don't ask, Don't tell."

I feel like this is a big test for the Obama administration, because even things like passing the stimulous package do not have directly visible results like repealing this provision would. We see results, or we don't. It has also gotten a lot of publicity lately, with some compelling examples of how we are losing talented soldiers due to this policy when we most need them:

Exhibit 1: Lt. Daniel Choi, a West Point graduate who specialized in Arabic languages and a combat veteran of the Iraq War. After coming out, he was discharged from the military, a decision that military administrative board recommended today. He the President of "Knights Out," an alumni association for gay West Point grads, and continues to fight the policy.

Exhibit 2: Anthony Woods, West Point and Harvard grad/Iraqi War Veteran (mentioned before here), who was discharged from the military. He is now running for Congress in California, with one of his platform issues being repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

and when all else fails . . .

Exhibit 3: The West Wing, Season 1, Let Bartlet Be Bartlet (one of my favorite episodes)
Admiral Fitzwallace [to Tate and Thompson]: We’re discussing gays in the military, huh?
Major Thompson: Yes sir.
Fitzwallace: What do you think? [silence] I said what do you think?
Major Thompson: Sir, we’re here to help the White House form a possible-
Fitzwallace: I know. I’m asking you what you think.
Major Tate: Sir, we’re not prejudiced toward homosexuals.
Fitzwallace: You just don’t want to see them serving in the Armed Forces?
Major Tate: No sir, I don’t.
Fitzwallace: ‘Cause they oppose a threat to unit discipline and cohesion.
Major Tate: Yes sir.
Fitzwallace: That’s what I think too. I also think the military wasn’t designed to be an instrument of social change.
Major Tate: Yes sir.
Fitzwallace: The problem with that is that what they were saying to me 50 years ago. Blacks shouldn’t serve with Whites. It would disrupt the unit. You know what? It did disrupt the unit. The unit got over it. The unit changed. I’m an admiral in the U.S. Navy and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff...Beat that with a stick.
I love Fitz.

Obviously this is a very tough situation. I can see where the military is coming from as well, and I could imagine that shoving a policy down the military's throat would not be a good idea. I mean, even President Bartlet couldn't do it in the liberal fantasyland of West Wing. But here is to hoping that a real President can work something out to reverse this policy.

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