Rep. John Conyers is wondering this in light of the fact that we're at war and we're losing valuable soldiers (namely Arabic interpreters) due to this Clinton-era law. I'm wondering as well, considering there is public support for getting rid of the thing. The rule seems to help no one, especially the military and considering there are already rules on fraternization and sexual conduct, all those bigoted "foxhole" scenarios should be rendered moot.
Yet the rule persists.
More after the jump.
Other countries (see Great Britain and Israel) don't seem to have this problem and have gays openly serve in their military. President Barack Obama has the power as president to just write the whole thing out of existence (at least temporarily) and I have to say, I'm a tad surprised he hasn't. More than half of all Americans, including military families, think the law should be repealed.
Those who would argue that allowing gays serve openly would be divisive, should probably be reminded that the same thing was said about blacks and women in the military yet somehow, magically, everyone dealt with it like grown-ups. I mean, this is the military. It's not a democracy, but a dictatorship where those at the top lay down the law and everyone falls in line ... or else. A military can't function if everyone is running their own private Army of one. I'm pretty sure they can find a mature way to deal with "The Gay."
So what's the hold up with the Obama Administration on this issue? On the campaign trail, Obama promised to repeal the law, but as recently as Friday, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs was fielding questions on what was the hold up. Conyers is arguing that since Obama has become president he's become increasingly too conservative for his tastes and pretty much accuses him of trying to placate Republicans in an effort to come off as bipartisan.
“Why is he becoming so conservative now that he’s got the job?” Conyers asked during an interview with Michigan Messenger at a gathering of progressive activists on Saturday. “I think he is getting a lot of pressure put on him from the right, from conservatives. And he is trying to prove to the Republicans that he is bipartisan.” (Michigan Messenger)
Gibbs tried to reiterate that the president is for ending Don't Ask, Don't Tell and is trying to work with Congress rather than simply suspending the law via presidential decree.
Here's what Gibbs said during Friday's press conference:
From The Advocate:
Q: The president said that releasing the detainee photos poses a danger to our troops, but doesn't dismissing otherwise qualified soldiers pose a danger. Is it a question of degree?
Gibbs: What I talked about in terms of "dont' ask, don't tell" was, the president -- the president, as you know, supports changing that because he strongly believes that it does not serve our national interests. He agrees with former members of the Joint Chiefs in that determination.
But unlike the photos, the, the only durable solution to "don't ask, don't tell" is through the legislative process, and the president is working with Congress and the members of the Joint Chiefs to ensure that that happens.
Q: But couldn't he, in the meantime, put a moratorium on these discharges until that can be accomplished.
Gibbs: But again, the president's determined that that's not... that is... that's not the way to seek any sort of lasting or durable solution to the public policy problem that we have.
Q: How do you respond to the criticism though that dismissing qualified linguists endangers the troops?
Gibbs: I would, I would... I think, I would respond by saying that the president has long believed that the policy does not serve our national interests.
So again, what's the hold up? Do you think the president is trying to play it safe by working on getting bipartisan support for the repeal? Do you think he's gone "conservative" like Conyers said? Do you think he's trying to have it both ways, not wanting to ruffle feathers? Or do you think "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is actually beneficial?
I've always thought "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was crap. Considering gay people manage to hold down all sorts of jobs throughout our society I didn't understand and still don't understand what makes the military so special that it can't handle some gay person. One: The Gay does not rub off. Two: You cannot catch The Gay from knowing an openly gay person. Three: Gay people are not some kind of nymphos who throw themselves sexually on every piece of ass they see. There's nothing more arrogant than someone who dislikes gay people because they're afraid of being hit on. Who died and made you the most desirable hetero in the friggin' world?
Lastly, the "foxhole" defense is stupid as hell. Who on earth is thinking about getting laid when someone is firing bullets and lobbing bombs at them, gay or straight? I could have swore you'd be thinking "Man, I really, really, really don't want to die" or you'd be focusing on defending yourself and your fellow soldiers from the enemy. And when you're in trouble do you actually care about the sexual orientation of the person who saves you? If you're bogged down in a fire fight do you care if the fighter pilot who blows up your enemy so you can get the hell out of there is gay? Do you care if the helicopter pilot who comes to pick you and the injured up off the battlefield is gay, or are you just happy they came to get your ass? PRIORITIES, PEOPLE!
Long story short: There are always going to be bigots in the military who will be uncomfortable about serving with gays, but you know what? My ex was a Marine who served with hardcore racists and somehow everyone made it out of boot camp alive.
Personally, I think the president should just go ahead and use the power he has to suspend it so we can stop losing the people we need so the military can do its job, then get with Congress about repealing this piece of malarky. But perhaps he's trying to avoid yet another CULTURE WARS fight that certain conservatives love. Much like the whole boondoogle of protesting the president at Notre Dame because of his pro-abortion stance (and not protesting previous presidents the Catholic church had beef with. *Cough* Bush *Cough, cough*). Culture Wars fights are comforting to those who know nothing but them and are used to it, but I think most Americans are not interested in going to the mat over keeping gay Arabic translators out of the military. It just seems counter-productive if you actually believe in the veracity of the War on Terror.
If you think someone is out to get you, why would you get rid of the person who can actually understand what your enemy is saying? It's all bollocks, I tell you. Bollocks.
As both a pragmatist and a Liberal, if it were up to me, I'd probably be running roughshod over things I knew I had more than 50 percent public support for and a Democratically-controlled Congress. In other words, I doubt I'd be Little Miss Bipartisan, but this is why I'm not president.
What do you think about the White House's reasons for why they haven't jumped on the issue?