Final Update The Senate has officially repealed DADT and sent the bill to Obama where he will sign it. The 17 year old law which has kicked out over 13,000 service members is now in the trash. After the president signs the bill the Pentagon will have 60 days to write new rules and regulations and implement them accordingly. *End Update*
*UPDATE*DADT repeal has passed a procedural vote in the Senate. DADT may soon be a terminated policy.*End Update*
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is bringing Congress to work on a Saturday to vote on several key issues along with the repeal of DADT. Reid will need to garner 60 votes in the 100 seat Senate to seal the deal on the controversial policy. The policy was one of Obama’s top priorities until he started facing criticism and as usual backed away from the issue so Reid is determined to force it upon him. “We’re confident we have at least 60,” a Democratic aide said and a senior Republican aide acknowledged Democrats may well reach that number. The Senate will be voting on a bill that passed with overwhelming majority in the House on Wednesday, 250-175.
Many Republicans, especially the old warhorse John McCain, have opposed the bill citing military readiness and cohesion even though 70% of the military is ok with openly gay soldiers. While McCain and many of his friends still live in the 60′s the rest of the nation seems fine with the change as well. In a military where honor, dignity and integrity are preached it’s almost impossible not to laugh when you hear they kicked out over 13,000 perfectly good soldiers because of sexual preferences. Wouldn’t it have been nice if the President used his military authority to just repeal the law a few months ago? I guess applying “change” was not as important as his popularity.
The military has a long standing history of essentially being the nation’s lab rats. Every major social issue that has plagued the country has been forced down the military’s throat long before it explodes into something like the civil rights movement. Before civil rights marches were taking place on every city street the military had already integrated blacks into its ranks. During the women’s movement of the 80′s the military was opening its ranks even further and allowing women to fill jobs once limited to men. Now the military will be forced to take on the biggest social issue of the 21st Century; gays. How is it the military can be forced to accept something long before the rest of the country can?
The way I look at it is after each military integration society’s views begin to change. For example when the military accepted Blacks into its ranks people were up in arms but two decades later they had full rights. It’s not the quickest turnaround but it is something. I think the mindset of the people shifts when the military says hey you’re ok for service. Most people in the U.S. think of our armed forces as the fiercest fighting force the world has ever known so if they say we think gays are fit for service it really defeats every argument against homosexuals. Americans once thought of Blacks as “inferior” to Whites but after integration into combat roles those views began to change. I’m not saying the military is the key to our social problems nor am I saying it’s the proper way for society to deal with them but it does have a high success rate.
The military is also limited to only taking orders. So it’s much easier to force something as major of an issue as this down their throats. Once the order is given they can’t say no. Using the military also means that Obama and fellow politicians avoid hanging themselves in the next election if the integration goes horribly wrong. Using the military to gauge public response, as well as gauge the capabilities of gay soldiers allows the politicians to wipe their hands of it if it goes wrong or to take credit for it when it goes smoothly. It’s brilliant when you think about it no matter how morally wrong it may be.
So this vote may pass or fail but ultimately the U.S. will have homosexuals serving honorably side by side with straights in the near future. I think once the skeptical people see that the military was able to adapt and understand that homosexuals are just like you and I and perform their duty just as well that it will be easier for society to embrace them. I certainly can’t wait for the first openly gay soldier to come back from combat. I’d hope that he or she would spit in John McCain’s face but I’m sure they’d handle themselves better in that situation than I. The sooner this is repealed the sooner the government has to realize that gays are entitled to rights just like any other American.
P.S. Who are we to stop anyone from wanting to potentially die for their country?