by Bree Abel
On Tuesday, the Department of Defense released a report on its nine-month investigation into the effects of repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." In short, the 267-page report (which you can find via a link from USA Today) concludes that "allowing gay men and women to serve openly in the United States armed forces presents a low risk to the military’s effectiveness, even at a time of war, and that 70 percent of surveyed service members believe that the impact on their units would be positive, mixed or of no consequence at all," according to a New York Times report.
The Times says the report "found that much of the concern in the armed forces about openly gay service members was driven by misperceptions and stereotypes. Leaving aside those with moral and religious objections to homosexuality, the authors said the concerns were 'exaggerated and not consistent with the reported experiences of many service members.'"
One of the most telling sections of the report is a list of anonymous statements by service members about their views on serving with openly gay comrades. While the report represents both sides of the argument over repeal, the comments in favor of repeal are compelling. Here are just a few:
“What does it matter if they can do the job if you are gay or straight?”
“I have served with gays in the military and have found them to be of high
caliber and encompassing all the Army values and performance standards.
Performance has NEVER been an issue.”
“Gays and lesbians have been serving in the Armed Forces since the inception
of our country. They love this country just as much as heterosexuals. They
have been ‘outed’ while serving, humiliated in front of their peers, beaten up
and given dishonorable discharges in the past (and even present day). This
must end. This is NOT what our country is about.”
“I love America for its tolerance. I am willing to be a KIA [Killed In Action]
because I think America values equality and civil liberties. It would be great if
the institution I served in mirrored exactly these ideals.”
In the report, the committee also offers lessons from and similarities to the racial integration of the military in the ’40s and ’50s and gender integration in the ’70s.
Responding to the report's release, President Obama released this statement on the White House blog:
As Commander in Chief, I have pledged to repeal the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law because it weakens our national security, diminishes our military readiness, and violates fundamental American principles of fairness and equality by preventing patriotic Americans who are gay from serving openly in our armed forces. At the same time, as Commander in Chief, I am committed to ensuring that we understand the implications of this transition, and maintain good order and discipline within our military ranks. That is why I directed the Department of Defense earlier this year to begin preparing for a transition to a new policy.
Today’s report confirms that a strong majority of our military men and women and their families—more than two thirds—are prepared to serve alongside Americans who are openly gay and lesbian. This report also confirms that, by every measure—from unit cohesion to recruitment and retention to family readiness—we can transition to a new policy in a responsible manner that ensures our military strength and national security. And for the first time since this law was enacted 17 years ago today, both the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have publicly endorsed ending this policy.
With our nation at war and so many Americans serving on the front lines, our troops and their families deserve the certainty that can only come when an act of Congress ends this discriminatory policy once and for all. The House of Representatives has already passed the necessary legislation. Today I call on the Senate to act as soon as possible so I can sign this repeal into law this year and ensure that Americans who are willing to risk their lives for their country are treated fairly and equally. Our troops represent the virtues of selfless sacrifice and love of country that have enabled our freedoms. I am absolutely confident that they will adapt to this change and remain the best led, best trained, best equipped fighting force the world has ever known.