Okay. It may be a move in the right direction. But I think some folks are too enthusiastic about the House vote to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell, which forces gay military personnel to lie about themselves in return for not being discharged from their military careers.
And I worry that many people will be too satisfied, too placated, by this gesture to ask what it really means. Some might even scorn those (like myself) who suspect this could just be lip service, and would continue to speak out for repeal.
The Amendment the House passed (printed above) is simply a rhetorical, political statement to outline a way the military can, in its judgment, rescind its policy of discrimination against openly gay military personnel, conditionally. But although many pundits are declaring this an historic victory, I maintain that this amendment might not guarantee a repeal.
The document as written provides for a "review" that lists a number of conditions to be met first. But really, this could all be much simpler. State that openly gay military personnel will no longer be discharged from the military, and immediately end the practice. To do anything less strikes me as merely mollifying the homophobes in the ranks.
Instead, we have a proposed list of procedures that don't immediately address discrimination, and that continues to assume that gays are a problem that need to be solved. Not only that, the review carries NO TIME TABLE for completion. At the top of p. 4, it all but states that if these conditions are not met, Don't Ask Don't Tell will remain in force.
Look--gay people are already serving. What will change by conducting a drawn-out review? All this amendment does is allow politicians to claim that they addressed the issue; and those who secretly wish that it be forever caught up in bureaucracy can easily "support" it, knowing it may never actually come to pass.
Soon after the House vote last week, Defense Secretary Robert Gates made a direct appeal to military personnel and their families:
"Every man and woman in uniform is a vitally important part of this review. We need to hear from you and your families so that we can make these judgments in the most informed and effective manner.....So please let us know how to do this right."This seems to me to be a stall tactic, an attempt to manufacture controversy. Does anyone really think Gates' statement is directed toward gay personnel and their families?
One would think that the military was preparing to place its personnel in harms way, even asking them to risk death!
One might even think that military brass can no longer give an order and expect it to be followed. This repeal could have been ordered BEFORE a review was commenced.
I think we should be very cautious in our praise of this proposed amendment to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell. I will support any real effort to end this shameful discrimination, by all means; but I can't sit back and wait patiently--or silently-- for a "review" that may well conclude that a repeal is not feasible.