A new study concludes that the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law does little in terms of actual military readiness and that openly gay soldiers would not significantly diminish morale or fighting capability in the U.S. military. If raised by reporters, the study could put pressure on Barack Obama, who is trying to move to the right in preparation for the general election. John McCain is expected to support the continuation of the current law.
The student was conduct by four retired military officers, including the three-star Air Force lieutenant general who was first tasked by President Clinton to implement the policy.
It was sponsored by the Michael D. Palm Center at the University of California at Santa Barbara, and the authors include Army Lt. Gen. Robert Gard, who supports Barack Obama. Another author, Marine Corps Gen. Hugh Aitken, backed Bill Clinton in 1996. A third author, Air Force Lt. Gen. Robert Minter Alexander, is a Republican. The fourth author is Navy Vice Adm. Jack Shanahan, a life long Republican.
The study could strip away the spin on the policy, which has always been about majoritarian values, not war-fighting capabilities. Other countries allow gay and lesbian personnel without any diminishment of capabilities. The suggestion of a danger to morale and capabilities echoes identical arguments made against the incorporation of blacks into war-fighting units.
There is also the question of how long this out-dated policy can be sustained under constitutional review. Lawrence v. Texas remains a rather ambiguous precedent beyond the direct issue of criminal statutes. However, the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy result in a severe penalty for simply being openly gay: discharge. I believe that it would eventually fall under constitutional scrutiny, though admittedly (with the addition of Roberts and Alito) it could have an extended life.
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