Gates message to Republicans in Congress was pick your poison: You can repeal this policy in a way that lets us implement it with minimal disruption or you can fail to act and the courts will act by "judicial fiat" forcing the Pentagon to react with no time to prepare, which Gates said was his "greatest fear."
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.
Aside from the fact that allowing gays and lesbians to serve is far less divisive than racial integration of the military was at the time of its implementation, the report notes that opposition to allowing open service was far higher in countries like Israel and the UK prior to their abolishing discrimination against gays and lesbians. So while opponents are likely to use the relatively higher numbers related to the predictions of combat troops to stall repeal, the report bolsters the arguments of repeal advocates who say that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly won't harm the military. The question now is whether or not the few Republican Senators who have indicated they might support repeal will have the courage to act now that the empirical basis for opposition to DADT repeal has been completely obliterated.
While there isn’t much time for the Senate to act, a switch of only three votes from September’s cloture vote would be enough to invoke cloture and defeat the filibuster attempt that will apparently be led by John McCain. Nonetheless, the strong words today from Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen in support of repeal and urging the Senate to pass DADT repeal and let it become law may just be enough to convince at least three Senators to cross the lines and vote in favor of cloture. Based on the conclusions of this report, that’s certainly what they should do.
Another key thing just happened in Robert Gibbs' briefing with reporters: He flatly stated the president believes there's enough time in the lame duck session for the Senate to do what it takes to repeal DADT. That's important: It could increase pressure on Harry Reid to schedule the requisite floor debate.
When the [DADT] policy was established, none of the three positions had majority support among Americans. Forty-four percent supported open service, 37 opposed any service, and 19 percent supported allowing gay men and lesbians to serve only if they did not reveal their sexual orientation. Today, one position has emerged as the clear preference of the majority of Americans. Seventy-five percent of Americans support open service, 17 oppose any service, and only 8 percent support the compromise position of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
In 1993, “don’t ask, don’t tell” offered a compromise for a public deeply divided on the issue of gay men and lesbians serving the military. Today, though, that compromise position the status quo, enshrined in the policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell” would seem to hold very little support among the American public.
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