I applaud the recent U.S. House of Representative vote to repeal of the 1993 "don't ask, don't tell" policy that allows homosexuals to serve in the military only if they don't disclose their sexual orientation. The House vote came after a similar vote in the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee. I object, however, that the repeal, if passed, will not be immediate. Rather repeal will go into effect only after the $5 million Pentagon study is received on December 1 and after the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff certify that the repeal. I only wish President Obama had fulfilled his campaign pledge by repealing the policy by executive order after becoming president.
What happens if the study recommends against repeal?
What's to certify and study anyway? Consider there are about 30 countries in the world, including nearly all of the NATO members, as well as South Africa, Brazil, and the Philippines that allow homosexuals to serve openly in the military. And on May 16, 2010, representatives from Great Britain, Canada, Australia, Israel, and the Netherlands met at the Brookings Institute to discuss how the militaries in those countries handled allowing gays and lesbians to serve in their militaries. The consensus was that, in spite of concerns before the change, when gays and lesbians were allowed to serve, it was a non-issue.
In 2000, Aaron Belkin, a political science professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Melissa Sheridan Embser-Herbert, a veteran of the U.S. Army and Army Reserve, and Professor and Chair, Department of Sociology at Hamline University in Saint Paul, Minnesota, co-authored an exhaustive 44-page study on Canada, which, after a series of lawsuits in 1991, changed its policies to allow gays to openly serve in the military. The study, which at the time was regarded as the most comprehensive academic study of homosexuality in a foreign military ever completed, concluded that the change in policy had "not led to any change in military performance, unit cohesion, or discipline."
A recent poll showed that 75 percent of Americans support openly gay people serving in the U.S. military.
Then why a study? Probably because Congressional leaders and the White House are trying to appease homophobic Congresspersons who will ultimately oppose the repeal anyway.
Repeal "don't ask, don't tell" immediately. It is the right thing to do.