Some news from California today:
Former Senator Sam Nunn told reporters today that "times change" and it is now time to reconsider the ban on openly gay service that he spearheaded as Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee in 1993. When "fifteen years go by on any personnel policy," he said, "it's appropriate to take another look at it -- see how it's working, ask the hard questions, hear from the military." Nunn said the starting point for review should be a "Pentagon study."
Nunn's comments come as his name is circulated as a possible vice presidential pick for Senator Barack Obama, the likely Democratic candidate for the White House. They also come three days after the death of Nunn's friend, Charles Moskos, the renowned military sociologist who was the chief intellectual powerhouse behind "don't ask, don't tell."
Taken together, experts said today, the news has shaken the landscape of the gay ban. "The opposition of two of the three giants behind 'don't ask, don't tell' has fallen in the space of a few days," said Dr. Nathaniel Frank, senior research fellow at the Palm Center, a UC-Santa Barbara think tank that studies gays in the military. The third main architect, said Frank, who will publish a book on the gay ban next year, was Colin Powell, the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. "We went from a three-legged to a one-legged dog in the same week," he said. "At this point, nothing but political inertia is propping this animal up."
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Marc Ambinder is a contributing editor at The Atlantic. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.