The Center for American Progress Action Fund welcomes the findings from the Pentagon’s comprehensive study on how to repeal the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, which was released today.
Since its implementation in 1993 this unjust and unwise policy has undermined military readiness and forced gay and lesbian service members to live a lie to serve their country in the armed forces. Decades of government and private studies, including several conducted by the Center for American Progress, have concluded that the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” can be accomplished swiftly and without detriment to military readiness or cohesion. The Pentagon’s study confirms those results.
The study demonstrates definitively that our women and men in uniform are ready, willing, and able to adapt to the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Pentagon officials today summarized the results of the survey, which was sent to 400,000 service members:
- Seventy percent of service members said they would be able to “work together to get the job done” with a gay service member in their immediate units.
- Sixty-nine percent said they worked in a unit with a co-worker that they believed to be gay or lesbian.
- Ninety-two percent stated that their unit’s “ability to work together” with a gay person was either “very good,” “good,” or “neither good nor poor.” This includes 89 percent of those in Army combat arms units and 84 percent of those in Marine combat arms units.
The study found that a minority of service members maintain some concern about the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” But it also determined that strong leadership and guidance from the top of the chain of command will mitigate these issues.
Further, the experiences of our allies in repealing similar bans suggest that such concerns are often overstated. Pre-repeal surveys in the United Kingdom and Canada indicated that a substantial number of service members would not serve, work, or live with openly gay and lesbian troops. Yet in both countries repeal was a nonevent. And service members from both countries have worked productively alongside U.S. forces in Afghanistan over the past decade.
The vehicle to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is the fiscal year 2011 National Defense Authorization Act, which has already passed the House. It now awaits action by the Senate. We urge Senate leaders on both sides of the aisle to make sure the NDAA is expeditiously debated and voted on during the current lame duck session with the existing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal language intact. It should then be sent to President Barack Obama for his signature.
An overwhelming majority of Americans support allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military and this study confirms that there is no credible military or national security reason to maintain this outdated, discriminatory, and unpopular policy. We therefore recommend that the Senate move quickly to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” before the end of the current session.
Winnie Stachelberg is the Senior Vice President for External Affairs and Lawrence J. Korb is a Senior Fellow at American Progress.
More from CAP on "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell":