It would be really hard to walk away from Wednesday’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell hearings before the Senate Armed Services Committee thinking that Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was not a solid ally in the repeal process.
After several months of what looked like none-too-subtle warnings from senior military leaders that they staunchly opposed a repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, it was somewhere between bewildering and refreshing to hear the Admiral tell the committee that “no matter how I look at this 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.”
“Allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly would be the right thing to do,” Mullen said.
The study group Mullen and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced at the hearing has already been blasted as another instance of “studying the problem to death.” But consider this: somewhere between 29% and 50% of the armed forces affiliate themselves with the conservative evangelical Christian movement, and the military as a whole is a fairly conservative institution. Even if a large number of servicemembers know of other soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines who are lesbian, gay, or bisexual, Gates and Mullen need to bring the military establishment around for two reasons: to avoid a repeat of 1993, when military opposition to any effort to lift the ban on LGBs in the military gave us the current law, and to make sure the officer corps will support even the lowliest lesbian, gay, or bisexual Private if they face harassment from their fellow servicemembers following a repeal.
The “stalling” y’all are complaining that already happened last year, when the Obama administration declined to appoint a similar study group.