DADT Update

We have good news and bad news today on the gays-in-the-military front. First the good news:

The nation’s top two Defense officials called for an end on Tuesday to the 16-year-old “don’t ask, don’t tell” law, a major step toward allowing openly gay men and women to serve in the United States military for the first time in its history.

“No matter how I look at the issue, I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens,” Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate Armed Services Committee. He said it was his personal and professional belief that “allowing homosexuals to serve openly would be the right thing to do.”

Needless to say, Bill Clinton didn’t have this level of support from within the Pentagon when he tried to end the military ban on gays in 1993. And experience tells us that it’s necessary in order to get anything done. So two cheers for Gates and Mullen. Unfortunately, there’s also this:

But both Admiral Mullen and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates told the committee they needed more time to review how to carry out the change in policy, which requires an act of Congress, and predicted some disruption to the armed forces.

….To lead a review of the policy, Mr. Gates appointed a civilian and a military officer: Jeh C. Johnson, the Pentagon’s top legal counsel, and Gen. Carter F. Ham, the commander of the United States Army in Europe. Pentagon officials said the review could take up to a year.

Italics mine. Here’s the hopeful interpretation: we’re still on track to firmly end DADT in an amendment to the Pentagon budget this year, but implementation will be left up to Gates and he’ll be given until, say, January 2011 to publish new regs. The less hopeful interpretation is that Congress won’t do anything until the Pentagon review is done, which would mean delaying repeal until 2011 and implementation until 2012.

For now, I’ll assume the hopeful interpretation since it seems more likely. But I’m a little more nervous about it than I was last week.

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