What’s Going On With “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”?
“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is going through some major changes this week. In case you need a refresher course, this policy bans openly gay or bisexual individuals from serving in the U.S. military and prohibits superior officers from questioning a person’s sexuality. The thing is that nothing in Washington is ever simple and with all the political babbling and legislative back-and-forth, we’re starting to get pretty confused. After the jump, we break down what’s been going on this week. The Pentagon has been studying the policy and is preparing a report that will be available in December. But on Monday, some Democrats struck a compromise with the White House that said the vote on whether to ditch “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” could be accelerated before the report is due. Those in favor of the policy—or against any major changes to it—argued against the vote, saying the government was jumping the gun by not waiting for the report.
One such naysayer is Republican John McCain, who weighed in on Wednesday. Basically, he argued that since American troops currently have their hands full on two fronts, the government should think twice about instituting any major changes, especially ones like this that—in McCain’s opinion—could have negative effects. In his letter to the Senate Armed Services Committee chairman, he said, “Our military is currently engaged in two wars and we must have a true assessment of the impact of repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ on the battle effectiveness prior to taking any legislative action.”
Voting on the repeal ahead of time is beneficial for the Democrats, who don’t want to deal with such a hot button issue close to election time and want to look like they’re being progressive. Also, a decision to get rid of ”Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has a smaller chance of getting repealed if it is voted on now, rather than when elections are near. However, everyone needs to calm down because even if Congress approves the repeal, the Pentagon will still have time to finish its review before any major changes take effect.
The early vote, which is supported by the White House, LGBT Advocacy Groups, many Democrats, some Republicans, Defense Secretary Robert Gates (begrudgingly) and pretty much everyone in America who wasn’t alive during the Great Depression, could take place as early as today. Stay tuned.