Pentagon Report: 70% of Troops support repeal of DADT. Gates and Mullen push for legislation
The Pentagon just released its report on its misbegotten "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy, and both Defense Secretary Bob Gates and the Joint Chiefs' Admiral Mullen believe it's time that Congress send the legislation through repealing it:
The study found that 70 percent of troops surveyed believed that repealing the law would have mixed, positive or no effect, while 30 percent predicted negative consequences. Opposition was strongest among combat troops, with at least 40 percent saying it was a bad idea. That number climbs to 58 percent among Marines serving in combat roles. The study also draws a strong correlation between troops who have worked with a gay service member and those who support repeal. According to the assessment, 92 percent of troops who have served with someone they believed to be gay thought that their unit's ability to work together was either very good, good, or neither good nor poor.
One person familiar with the report said it will show that military commanders believe gay and lesbian troops have a strong desire to fit in and feel accepted by their units. The report will also show that gay service members currently serving in the military have expressed a patriotic desire to serve, and want to be subject to the same rules as other service members. The survey is based on responses by some 115,000 troops and 44,200 military spouses to more than a half million questionnaires distributed last summer by an independent polling firm.
Okay, I've got some more detail for you on the findings in that forthcoming Pentagon report on the impact repeal of Don't Ask Don't tell will have on the military. The upshot: It will leave GOP moderates with no reasons left to oppose repeal.
One of the key findings in the report is that a whopping 74 percent of spouses of military service-members say repeal of DADT would have no impact on their view of whether their husbands or wives should continue to serve. This number comes by way of a Congressional staffer who attended a private briefing that the report's authors, Defense Department officials Jeh Johnson and Carter Ham, gave to Senate Armed Services Committee staffers this morning.
This finding is important, because it undercuts a key argument made by repeal opponents: That having service-members mingle with gay colleagues could worry their families.
Also: The report will also undercut another key argument being made by repeal opponents: That opposition remains strong in the Marines. According to the source, while the report does find that concern runs high among Marines, it also finds that 84 percent of Marine combat corps combat arms units who said they thought they'd worked with homosexual service-members in the past found the experience either very good, good, or neutral.
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who requested the report, echoed their sentiments: "This can be done, and should be done, without posing a serious risk to military readiness."
"Now that we have completed this review, I strongly urge the Senate to pass this legislation and send it to the president for signature before the end of this year," Gates said. "I believe this is a matter of some urgency because, as we have seen this past year, the federal courts are increasingly becoming involved in this issue."
The right will dig up any little tidbit they can to try and undermine the repeal of DADT so I always felt that this report was a delaying tactic to undermine its chances.
Steve Benen thinks that Republicans have lost the information battle, but to these Republicans, truth and facts do not matter.
As for the larger legislative context, remember, Senate Republicans recently refused to even allow a debate on funding U.S. troops because they wanted to wait for this report. They took a gamble, of sorts -- maybe the survey results would show servicemen and women agreeing with the GOP's anti-gay animus, thus giving the party a boost fighting pro-repeal Democrats.
The gamble failed. We now know a majority of U.S. troops, a majority of U.S. civilians, a majority of the House, a majority of the Senate, the Commander in Chief, the Secretary of Defense, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs are all ready to see DADT repeal move forward.
If John McCain and other anti-gay senators hoped to gain some leverage, those hopes were in vain. They've run out of excuses. It's time for the Senate to do the right and decent thing.
Remember, Democrats only need two Republicans -- literally, just two -- to break ranks. These GOP senators, if they exist, don't even have to vote for the spending bill that includes the DADT provision; they just need to let the Senate vote up or own. If this report doesn't lead two Republicans to drop the nonsense, nothing will.
McCain, who has apparently decided to make his lasting legacy be that of the last man standing against the civil rights issue of the twenty-first century, will presumably continue to argue that violating Americans' 14th Amendment rights isn't a problem.
But the bottom line here is, the findings in this report removes any excuse for opposing the repeal by moderate Republican Senators who have said their vote on the issue would be based on its findings.
But bear in mind that this is just a recommendation on gradually implementing the repeal. It's a victory, but the war isn't won. Senate Majority Leader Reid (D-NV) has promised a vote on the repeal before the end of the year.