Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) intends to repeal the federal ban on gays serving openly in the military as part of the next defense authorization bill, which should come before Congress in the spring/summer of 2010:
Repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell” will likely be included as part of next year’s Department of Defense authorization bill in both chambers of Congress, Congressman Barney Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat, said Wednesday.
“Military issues are always done as part of the overall authorization bill,” Frank said, insisting that this has been the strategy for overturning the policy all along. “’Don’t ask, don’t tell’ was always going to be part of the military authorization.”
Frank said he has been in direct communication with the White House, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office, and other congressional leaders about the strategy for ending the 1993 ban on gays serving openly in the military.
The Defense Department reauthorization bill would be voted on next spring and summer and would take effect October 1, 2010, according to Frank. But he added that discharges could potentially be stopped by executive order before the law goes into effect.
Let’s face it, DADT’s is a policy whose time has long since passed. We live in a fundamentally different country than we did in 1993 and we have a fundamentally different military.
I have a great deal of faith in our soldiers; I refuse to believe that they are incapable of tolerating gay colleagues. In fact, I would argue that the vast majority of our fighting men and women probably have greater concerns than the sexual orientations of their peers. To say the military must be handled with kid gloves on this issue is, in my opinion, to greatly underestimate our military and to insult our men and women in uniform.
Plus, the cost of DADT has been astronomical:
Since 1994, the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy has resulted in the discharge of more than 13,000 military personnel across the services including approximately 800 with skills deemed “mission critical,” such as pilots, combat engineers, and linguists. These are the very specialties for which the military has faced personnel shortfalls in recent years.
In 2005, the Government Accountability Office found that the cost of discharging and replacing service members fired because of their sexual orientation during the policy’s first 10 years totaled at least $190.5 million. \
A recent study by the Palm Center, a think tank at the University of California, Santa Barbara, found that GAO’s analysis total left out several important factors, such as the high cost of training officers—commissioned soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen, and Coast Guardsmen with several years of service experience—who were discharged due to their sexual orientation. When these costs were factored in, the cost to the American taxpayer jumped to $363.8 million—$173.3 million, or 91 percent, more than originally reported by GAO.
Imagine what we could have accomplished with 13,000 extra soldiers–800 of whom had mission critical skills–and $363.8 million additional dollars.
DADT was intended as something of a half-step toward allowing gays to serve openly in the military. It did allow gays to serve–an improvement over the prior policy of excluding them entirely–but it prohibited them from admitting their orientation.
But the time has come for us to finish the job, for us to recognize our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters as full American citizens with all the rights and freedoms thereof, including the freedom to serve their country in uniform.
Next up on the chopping block? The Defense of Marriage Act.