30 November 2010

Repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell

I always considered the John McCain, circa 2006, position on DADT to be the correct one -- whether gays and lesbians are allowed to openly serve in the military is a decision that is best left to military commanders. When Donald Rumsfeld and Tommy Franks ruled the Pentagon, perhaps DADT was the right policy. But now that Robert Gates and Mike Mullen are in charge, I'm not quite sure why a repeal of the law is so objectionable.

Most of the GOP thinks that homosexuality is morally repugnant, and I agree -- but to craft public policy -- especially policies that could have a profound effect on national security -- around this belief strikes me as irresponsible and short-sighted. Much like the conservative argument against gay marriage, I have yet to hear a single conservative articulate a compelling secular purpose for preventing gays and lesbians from openly serving in the military.

Barry Goldwater, one of the heroes of this site who rightfully earned the name "Mr. Conservative," was so abhorred by the Moral Majority crowd that his parting wisdom to the GOP was largely a warning to keep the moralizers like Tony Perkins and Pat Robertson at arm's length. He spent his last years in a constant battle with a Republican Party that he believed had been co-opted by these zealots. Ronald Reagan was famously ambivalent about dealing with homosexuality in public policy, and specifically rejected an anti-gay plank from the GOP platform in 1980. These are the two greatest conservative leaders in history, and any reasonable reading of their records would indicate that they would support a repeal of DADT -- or at the very least, wouldn't care one way or the other.

Why then is it the "conservative" position to support DADT -- or even stiffer policies?

If the military brass says a repeal is necessary -- and Gates and Adm. Mullen do -- then why shouldn't the law be repealed?

For further support of a DADT repeal, the Washington Post reports:

"According to a survey sent to 400,000 service members, 69 percent of those responding reported that they had served with someone in their unit who they believed to be gay or lesbian. Of those who did, 92 percent stated that their unit's ability to work together was very good, good, or neither good nor poor, according to the sources. Combat units reported similar responses, with 89 percent of Army combat units and 84 percent of Marine combat units saying they had good or neutral experiences working with gays and lesbians."

Like Goldwater, I continue to be confounded by the necessity of singling out homosexuals with respect to public policy. I fail to understand how this is the "conservative" thing to do, and continue to wait for an articulate conservative to make the case against DADT repeal.

I think I'll be waiting awhile.

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