The administration's decision today to appeal U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Phillips's injunction against continuing the disastrous 17-year-old DADT policy found in 10 U.S.C. § 654 - a policy she previously had ruled to be unconstitutional - is, we were told by the President's press secretary, part of a necessary process to dump it.
Chiming in for the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Wednesday that allowing the injunction to stand would mean a sudden end of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" which would have "enormous consequences for our troops."
"I feel very strongly that this is an action that needs to be taken by the Congress, and that it is an action that requires careful preparation and a lot of training."
Gates said the Pentagon needs until Dec. 1 to resolve questions such as whether heterosexual troops would be required to share housing with gays and whether the military would be required to provide benefits for same-sex partners of service members.
When will this nonsense cease?
As the Toledo Blade editorial board quite rightly put it this morning:
The military has had years to prepare. Public sentiment against the policy has grown steadily. Most Americans now oppose "don't ask, don't tell." But politicians refused to change the policy because they feared angering a vocal anti-gay minority. And military brass kept their collective heads in the sand, expecting that equality for gays in the military was always going to be in the future, never in the present. ...
...[J]ust as there continue to be a few racists and misogynists wearing the uniforms of America's Armed Services, there will always be a few homophobic service members as well. That's not a rationale for continuing to punish the victims, as the current policy does. The better policy is for the military to weed out the bigots.
And the better policy for the White House is to do the right thing, to defend constitutional rights, even when it's inconvenient.
Palm Center Director Aaron Belkin stated in a press release:
With all due respect Mister Secretary, implementing repeal of DADT is not difficult and you should stop saying that it is. Indeed, there were no reports of enormous consequences for the troops yesterday after the ban was suspended. There were no reports of problems today.
As you well know, gays and lesbians are serving honorably and openly today alongside their straight peers. For this reason, and as the RAND Corporation found in 1993, the lifting of a gay ban is not difficult if leaders insist that troops work together. A protracted process involving "a lot of training" is not needed.
Eight months ago, the Palm Center reported on the experiences of five of the 25 countries that allow gays and lesbians to participate openly in their militaries. In its 152-page white paper, Gays in Foreign Militaries 2010: A Global Primer, the authors stated, among other things:
[R]esearch concludes unequivocally that such policy changes are most successful when
implemented quickly. Such research is summarized in the 1993 Rand study, which Secretary Gates has asked to be updated. According to that report, the two most important factors in a personnel policy transition of this nature are decisive leadership and a single code of conduct for all personnel. Rand found that a successful new policy must be “decided upon and implemented as quickly as possible” to avoid anxiety and uncertainty in the field. It stated that “fast and pervasive change will signal commitment to the [new] policy,” while “incremental changes would likely be viewed as experimental” and weaken compliance. It also concluded that “any waiting period permits restraining forces to consolidate,” and that “phased-in implementation might allow enemies of the new policy to intentionally create problems to prove the policy unworkable.” Finally, it recommended that any new policy be implemented and communicated “as simply as possible” to avoid piling on confusing changes incrementally that would force service members to endure new rules every few months instead of having to adjust only once.50
New reports have also indicated that the study groups would address whether separate facilities, such as barracks and showers, would be needed in order to lift the ban.51 Yet Rand cautioned against instituting separate facilities for minority groups, citing the resentment and damaging focus on gender distinctions that have resulted from different standards for men and women.52
Getting rid of this policy of inequality has been delayed and delayed for no good reason other than kow-towing to bigots. Gates now argues for more delay. Instead of appealing the district court's ruling, the President should tell his appointee Gates - and the generals and admirals - that time's up. More foot-dragging serves no purpose other than to persuade many gay and lesbian Americans and their allies that the administration is less than serious about getting rid of this heinous, career-busting policy.