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Editorial: ‘Don’t Ask’ opponents running out of objections

A Pentagon study has concluded that it would cause minimal and manageable disruption if the ban on gay and lesbian service members serving openly were overturned, according to the Washington Post. The newspaper relied on sources familiar with a draft of the report. The full report will be delivered to the Obama administration on Dec. 1.

This is great news in the fight to overturn “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” After all, many candidates in the recent election said they wanted to await that report. U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who voted against a House bill that would lift the ban, said she was concerned about the possible disruption.

That bill passed the House, but it’s been held up in the U.S. Senate, with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., leading the opposition. He also invoked concerns about the effects on the military, saying at one point: “I think it’s really going to be very harmful to the morale and effectiveness of our military.”

Well, if the reports on the Pentagon study are accurate, he can relax. Unless, of course, he thinks he’s better positioned than current military leaders to judge such things.

Given all of this positive momentum, we’d think this odious policy was on its last legs. It would be better for Congress to repeal the law than to let this issue drag on in the courts. But news reports indicate that the chance at repeal in the near future is slipping away. Time is running out for this Congress to act, and McCain and others are doing what they can to slow things down.

That would kick the issue over to the new Congress, and its new members support the current policy. It’s difficult to understand why. More than 70 percent of military respondents to a survey said the effect of repeal would be positive, mixed or nonexistent, according to the Post. The report’s authors said military leaders shouldn’t have much trouble dealing with objections and concluded that those opposed would become more accepting once they served side by side with openly gay and lesbian members.

Even if the military’s top brass tout repeals, it appears as if congressional opponents are determined to dig in. It would seem their allegiance to the Pentagon’s opinion was greatly exaggerated.

So, then, what is behind the continuing opposition?

Some claim to be objecting to the process itself. Currently, it is attached to the overall defense authorization bill, and they want it peeled off and taken up separately. That would have been ideal, but this is how the issue has been presented. Besides, few opponents are inclined to vote against the defense spending bill, so clearly it is the prospect of gays and lesbians serving openly that gives them pause.

Which returns us to the main question: If the military is OK with it, why aren’t they? Do they find this discrimination to be morally sound? It would be brave of them to say so now that they can no longer take cover behind the military.

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