Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repealed. Kind of.

Well, it's about time. The discriminatory practice of barring open gays from the armed forces has ended. Except that it really hasn't.

Obama signed a bill that stipulated that DADT will be officially repealed 60 days after a written certification, signed by the President, the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is produced. Additionally, the Department of Defense has to ensure that "the implementation of necessary policies and regulations pursuant to the discretion provided by the amendments made by subsection (f) is consistent with the standards of military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention of the Armed Forces."

While this may simply be my cynical side talking, this sounds a lot like the "all deliberate speed" clause in Brown v. Board; in other words, a loophole that can be utilized by those opposed to ending DADT. Given that Obama is against gay marriage and had his administration previously fight DADT repeal, I'm not really expecting him to really fight for DADT's demise. Secretary of Defense Gates, for his part, refuses to even make a vague estimate. Obama told the Advocate that it would be a matter of months, not years, but all we need to do is ask a Guantanamo detainee how Obama's timelines tend to work out (hint: they don't).

So while everyone seems to be patting themselves on the back for a job well done, the reality of the situation is that only a framework to get the job done has been created. It's like breaking open a bottle of champagne to commemorate your new house once you build the frame; there's still a bit to be done. Obama may be saying, "We are not a nation that says 'don't ask, don't tell," but, at least for the time being, that is simply not true.

Photo from Flickr via Third Way.

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