DADT: Some Days It’s Not Easy Being a Socially Liberal Republican

For national security and economic reasons I generally vote Republican, but I’m quite liberal on social issues.  For example, my support for same-sex marriage equality puts me to the left of Barack “marriage-is-between-a-man-and-a-woman” Obama.

This occasionally leads to cognitive dissonance, when people I otherwise admire take positions I find offensive.  I voted for Jon Corzine against the man I now think of as Governor Awesome, solely on the basis of Christie’s declaration that he would veto any legislation providing for same-sex marriage. Now the man I proudly backed for President has substituted tantrums for argumentation in leading the opposition to repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.  The repeal was approved yesterday — the Web Goddess considers it a birthday present — and I take some solace in the fact that enough Republican Senators crossed the aisle to make the vote a landslide, 65-31.

I agree with Nick at GayPatriot that this legislative outcome is hugely preferable to the judicial ruling that no doubt was just a matter of time.

I cannot express how grateful I am that this didn’t happen at the rap of a judge’s gavel. Nothing could have been more destructive than had our military been forced to make this change not because our commanders had been directed to do so by our elected civilian leaders, but by judicial fiat. Simply put, the judicial branch is not (despite this Administration’s obsession with trying our enemies in civilian courts) charged with, nor does it have the temperament for, taking on the responsibility of national security. While all would agree that the policy is discriminatory, that in and of itself is a very very poor reason to make such a huge change to policy. For example, the ADA doesn’t quite apply to the military, now, does it? On the other hand, give me a truly national-defense reason for considering applying it so, and I (and all military commanders) will be all ears.

Some Senators argued that a change of this sort should not be made in time of war.  Two Republican Senators, Richard Burr of North Carolina and John Ensign of Nevada, voted to support a filibuster attempt that failed… and then later in the same day voted in favor of repeal. “Despite my concerns over timing, my conclusion is that repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is the right thing to do,” Burr said in a statement after the vote.

I agree that the timing is not ideal — it should have been done years ago. I have every confidence that the men and women of the armed forces are equal to the challenge posed by colleagues who no longer have to lie about who they are.

Meanwhile, the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network offers a grim warning: “The bottom line is DADT is still in effect and it is NOT safe to come out.”

Even after the successful votes in Congress and even after the President signs the bill, the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff must certify that the Defense Department is prepared to implement repeal. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” will still be the law until 60 days after the President, Secretary of Defense, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs certify repeal can happen.

It’s tempting to think this is excessive caution — the President, SecDef and Chairman all are on record supporting repeal.  The 60-day waiting period was a fig leaf provided to those concerned about moving too quickly.  But when the Bush tax cuts were originally passed in his first term, I don’t think many people expected the ridiculous sunset provisions to be triggered — and they almost were.

I’ll give the final words to Nick at GayPatriot, himself a veteran:

I thank God for the gay men and women who have been serving during (and even before) DADT in spite of it. While many gay activists have been on the sidelines carping about “rights” and “integrity” and “honor”, these brave men and women put their Nation before themselves and sacrificed as their colleagues never had to. They were called by service and answered in a way that speaks volumes about their dedication to the mission of the military. They chose to serve even as doing so meant keeping such a big part of themselves under wraps.

The bottom line is DADT is still in effect and it is NOT safe to come out.

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