DADT – Forget About It!

(Gates-Mullen Testimony Coming to a Theater Near You)

Disclosure: We have no dog in the gay warrior fight. The topic itself is about as interesting as the latest round of revisions to the federal civilian personnel system.

Activism has made this topic a major item on President Barack Obama’s Bucket List. (He and those before him probably thought it an easy bone to toss to the masses. Each has found it more like taking Afghanistan.)

The landmark Civil Rights acts of 1964 and (and its Fair Housing brother in 1968) mandated protection from discrimination. Americans were protected by race, religion, gender and ethnicity. Areas included voting, employment, real estate transactions. One could not discriminate based on these protected classes. Persons with disabilities were added in 1988.

There is no federal legislation addressing sexual orientation, though there is an executive order barring such discrimination in federal employment. At least 16 (maybe 20) states have enacted legislation that includes protections for sexual orientation. Many who oppose such legislation maintain protection is largely covered in existing Civil Rights laws. Some question special protection based on one’s sexual preference.

But LGBT supporters say they face discrimination based on their orientation everywhere, everyday and need protection.

So, given federal law, can the Armed Forces as an employer say no to gays? Well the executive order says no, but with or without Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the armed forces make their own calls on who to recruit, who to graduate from boot camp and who to commission.

Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen made some uncharacteristically inappropriate comments (“Hey, I love gays. It’s the service chiefs – like Conway – who are the problem.” Ok, he didn’t say that, but…that’s the message I heard.) Maybe the White House pushed for the endorsement, but Mullen is his own guy, so who knows?

Defense Secretary and Occasional Superhero Robert M. Gates is calling for a year-long study (sigh). Let’s make it worth the time. Not that anyone has mentioned this, but what do you do with transgenders? Transexuals? What if someone wants a sex change? We think Corps Commandant James T. Conway and his boys should take these on.

In terms of “winning” and “losing”, the gay community may win this battle but the services will win the war. Any real change will be on DoD’s terms, not on the advocacy of any number of LGBT leagues.

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