A reader writes:
DiA is absolutely wrong. If Obama stopped DADT by executive order, it would cause complete chaos and a political upheaval. The military has a rule for everything. It has a rule for how you are supposed to brush your teeth and tie your shoes. It has a rule for how the various types of soldiers can entertain themselves when off duty. It has a rule (actually a whole bunch) for how male and female soldiers may express affection for each other. To simply stop the process of expelling service members for violating DADT without any of the rules to govern how gay soldiers should behave and how they should be treated would invite harassment, chaos and a complete breakdown in protocol.
Step back for a moment and look at the chess pieces that are being arrayed on the board. John McHugh, a former Republican Congressman who wants to abolish DADT, has been appointed Secretary of the Army. West Point has invited Lt. David Choi to speak to the cadets about being gay in the military. An analyst under Joint Chief Chairman Mullen’s command has published an extensive article in Joint Forces Quarterly talking about how about how abolishing DADT will enhance the military’s ability to carry out its mission. The most hawkish democrat on the Hill, Joe Lieberman, is working on the bipartisan bill to repeal the policy. Do you see the pattern?
Sometime within the next 6-12 months (not 2017), the Joint Chiefs and Secretary Gates will propose a method to abolish DADT along with new rules governing conduct by and towards homosexual members of the service (similar to the rules that govern heterosexual activity between those in uniform). Lieberman and his bipartisan team will propose whatever legislative changes are needed to make that plan a reality, and the hard right opponents will be checkmated before the game even begins. It will be another beep-beep moment. Please have a little faith.
The reader has many valid points, and he may be right in the end. But remember that Truman did not wait for Congress. And even with his executive order, it took several years to integrate the military:
In the wake of Truman's order, the air force and navy announced they would take further steps to integrate. However, army officials said they interpreted the order as not mandating desegregation, only equal treatment; as long as black units were treated the same as white units, they could remain segregated.
The army claimed that full integration of the military could only occur once society at large had been integrated. In testimony before the President's Committee, which began meeting in January 1949, Secretary of the Army Kenneth Royall declared that the army "was not an instrument for social evolution."
In May 1949, Defense Secretary Louis Johnson approved the air force's integration plan; he approved the navy's plan in June. However, the army's plan came in for much debate and revision. The army continued to insist on maintaining segregation as well as a 10% quota on African Americans in its ranks. After rejecting several interim plans, Johnson in September approved the army's final plan, although it still maintained a policy of segregation and a 10% quota.
Upon hearing that Johnson had approved the army's plan, the Fahy Committee threatened to reject it. Finally, after lengthy negotiations, the Fahy Committee also approved the integration plan, which was officially issued on January 16, 1950.
In its plan, the army agreed to integration, although at a gradual pace. It also agreed to end the 10% quota, though on the condition that it could reinstate the quota if that was deemed necessary. However, while the army had approved an integration policy, it would be another year before it was implemented, during the Korean War (1950-53).
(From the subscription-only database, "Issues And Controversies In American History.")