Gates: Repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell or Endanger the Military

But Republican senators are skeptical

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Defense Secretary Robert Gates told senators that failing to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell could seriously harm the military in testimony Thursday. If Congress fails to act, the courts could swiftly end the policy, giving the Pentagon no time to train or prepare for the transition. "Remarkably, despite this clear plea," The Washington Post's Greg Sargent writes, "many Republican Senators still appear unwilling to allow the military leadership's request to do what they believe is right by our military to be a serious factor in their thinking."

If the courts act before lawmakers, Gates said, it would be "the worst imaginable outcome as far as I'm concerned, and has very high risk to the force." Sargent notes that "the civilian leadership is 100 percent responsible for making policy decisions such as these," with the military playing an advisory role. "But what's striking is that their views on the matter don't seem to be much of a factor in the thinking of many GOP Senators. Indeed, none of them at the hearing even contested what these military leaders said about courts and the various timetables at play. Yet these Senators still appear adamantly opposed to repeal." Sargent leans left. Here are a couple other takes on this current political conflict.

  • Gates and Mike Mullen Dismantled GOP Talking Points, Igor Volsky argues at Think Progress. Responding to the argument that we can't make such a change in a time of war, Gates replied that that idea is "antithetical with our experiences since 2001. War does not stifle change, it demands it." Gates also beat back arguments that the repeal would be disruptive, that not enough soldiers weighed in, that people would flee the military. All those arguments were wrong, he said.
  • GOP Has to Think of the Tea Party, Digby writes at Hullabaloo. "Sargent seems a bit surprised that no Republicans have grabbed the DOD lifeline they were offered today to end DADT 'for the good of the military.' I think that in normal times they would have done it, but moderates are running scared of the Tea Party and contrary to popular myth, most of the Tea people care more about persecuting gays than they do about populism. ... If you listen to Talk Radio it's not hard to figure out where the party is coming from on this. It's a non-stop gay bash."
  • What Happened to Trusting the Military?  Crooks and Liars' John Amato asks. "How many times during the Bush administration did we hear John McCain and other members of the GOP tell the American people that military leaders should never be questioned when it comes to military matters? Bush turned the entire Iraq War over to Gen. Petraeus so that he could deflect all criticism away from the White House as much as possible. ... I do believe Congress should question the military leadership at all times, especially during a time of war, but the hypocrisy coming out of the mouths of McCain and other GOP politicians is as revolting as ever."
  • Dems Only Need a Couple Republicans, Steve Benen writes at The Washington Monthly. "Going into today, there were in upwards of five GOP members who were at least open to doing the right thing. If they were paying attention today, looking for reassurance, the course ahead should be obvious."
Of all the possible reasons to repeal Don't Ask, Don’t Tell, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates offered the worst... According to Gates, Congress must act before a judge acts for it. This is blackmail via judicial imperialism. ... Secretary Gates might have a little less to fear from the courts if the administration he serves were truly interested in defending the policy from legal assault. All indications are that the Department of Justice has chosen to make a deliberately weak case for the law’s constitutionality.
  • This Is About More Than Gays Serving Openly, Chuck Donovan writes at The Foundry.
Topics up for consideration include the military's definitions of marriage and family--which the Pentagon's recommendations would clearly undermine--and the religious liberty of military chaplains and individual service members, who face the possibility of limited or no advancement if they decline to treat issues of sexual conduct in the same neutral manner the armed forces apply to non-behavioral characteristics like race. ... In addition, the Pentagon implementation report is perplexing when it states that 'for the time being,' it recommends treating homosexual service members as 'single' for purposes of military benefits like family housing and health care.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.