This option would, however, allow the opportunity to eliminate the issues that stem from the existing policy and incorporate all of our objectives into our new policy.
The third alternative would also require approval from Congress, but would represent a less radical change. Such changes to the law could include bulking up the protections for homosexuals against harassment (in light of the lack of enforcement on the Don't Harass side of the policy); raising the threshold for discharge; the implementation of due process into the discharge process; or changing the discharge status to protect pension and benefit rights in light of a good service record. This alternative may be easier to implement than an entirely new policy because it would leave the homosexual ban nominally intact. This compromise could potentially be more palatable to both Republicans and military leadership.
The fourth alternative would provide a means to gather more information on the subject. As most countries that allow open homosexuals to participate in the military have only done so recently, there is only a minimal body of work on which to base our decisions. The impact of open homosexuals on unit morale and cohesiveness in particular has yet to receive significant study. Many of the problems inherent with the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy could have been avoided had the issue been given proper study and consideration before being written into law. Despite the present enthusiasm for the repeal of the policy, little study has been done to determine the effects of a potential new policy, or of any other alternative. This alternative may not be popular, and may in particular face opposition should Barack Obama be elected president, given his stated vehement opposition to the exclusion of gays from the military. However, it would give us time not only to gather the best information possible and thereby formulate the strongest policy possible, but it would also buy time for the possible passage of H.R. 3685 or a similar bill.
The recommended course of action is to pursue the more information in preparation for a complete re-write of military policy on the matter. Coming into an election this fall, there are many uncertainties that need to be worked out before any legislation can be passed. Although the best course of action is a complete repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell, the timeframe will be dictated by the results of the upcoming election. This view is supported by Hilary Clinton, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who believes a Democrat President is required to make changes to the policy.
Without a time frame, it would be premature to prepare a new policy. One of the major reasons that Don't Ask, Don't Tell was a failure is because it was rushed into law and with significant compromise. For the most part, opposition to ending the ban is not defensible with facts. However, this opposition remains virulent in some quarters and therefore any legislative changes should be very well thought-out in order to counter the inevitable objections.
The objections include the unit cohesion argument, which was previously used justify the segregation of African-Americans in the military. As segregation has demonstrated that these beliefs were unfounded, that is something that can be used here to help end the ban on homosexuals in the military. Moreover, there are some 20 other countries on whose experiences we can draw, including countries such as Canada who have openly gay soldiers currently serving in Afghanistan.
It is critical that the legislation that will replace Don't Ask Don't Tell meet all of our policy objectives.
For this to occur we need to make sure that the issue has been given adequate study. The sensitive nature of the subject demands that all possible objections and problems be met with informed, reasoned responses immediately. At present, we are not convinced that this is the case - the focus seems more on repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell than on how it would be replaced.
Whether the scope of H.R. 3685 allows it to be specifically applied to the military remains to be seen. If that bill does pass, however, it will mark a change in the legal tone regarding the rights of homosexuals in the workplace. The military has long considered itself a unique workplace entity. However, the legal and moral momentum gained from the passage of H.R. 3685 may be sufficient to allow a repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell. To wait and gather more information will allow us to adopt a strategy based on building a repeal and new policy on the back of this important piece of legislation.
Rodgers, Sam. (2006). Opinions of Military Personnel on Sexual Minorities in the Military. Zogby International. Retrieved June 28, 2008 at http://www.palmcenter.org/files/active/1/ZogbyReport.pdf
Lusero, Indra. (2008). Chief Congressional Architect of Military's Gay Ban Ends Opposition to Openly Gay Service. The Michael D. Palm Center. Retrieved June 28, 2008 at http://www.palmcenter.org/press/dadt/releases/chief_congressional_architect_of_militarys_gay_ban_ends_opposition_to_openly_gay_service
Shanker, Thom & Healy, Frank. (2007). A New Push to Roll Back Don't Ask Don't Tell. New York Times. Retrieved June 28, 2008 at http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/30/us/30military.html?_r=3&adxnnl=1&oref=slogin&adxnnlx=1214709917-GiujWI/uyDJJ85DmeFbEBA
Thompson, Mark. (2008). Don't Ask, Don't Tell Turns 15. Time. Retrieved June 28, 2008 at http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1707545,00.html
Frank, Nathaniel. (2008). Scholars Remember Charles Moskos Military Sociologist. The Michael D. Palm Center. Retrieved June 28, 2008 at http://www.palmcenter.org/press/dadt/releases/death_of_charles_moskos_military_sociologist_is_mourned
Schoenberger, Colin. (2007). Video: Candidates Weigh in on Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Logo Online. Retrieved June 28, 2008 at http://visiblevote08.logoonline.com/2007/08/10/the-candidates-weigh-in-on-dont-ask-dont-tell/
DOD Directive 1332.14 retrieved at http://www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/corres/pdf/133214p.pdf