Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Simpson on "don't ask, don't tell"

Veteran and former Republican Senator Alan Simpson thinks "don't ask, don't tell should be scrapped.

He mentions the jaw-droppingly stupid decision to fire more than 300 language experts -- including 50 who were fluent in Arabic -- merely because they were gay. Much was written about this back in 2002; a few stories are here and here.

He also notes that societal attitudes have shifted, with 91 percent of young adults (those between 18 and 29) saying gays should be allowed to serve openly, and 75 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan vets saying they were fine working with gays.

He says 24 other countries allow gays to serve openly, without noticeable harm to morale or readiness.

Finally, he notes that we simply need more troops. Turning away qualified soldiers for reasons unrelated to their ability to serve simply makes no sense.

People like to say that the military is no place for social experiments. Ignoring the fact that it has historically been used as such -- for instance, when President Eisenhower forcibly integrated the armed forces in the 1950s -- that argument is dated. The experiment is over; when 91 percent of your recruit-age population thinks gays should be allowed to serve, there is no compelling "morale" or "cohesiveness" argument for preventing it.

Pass H.R. 1246 and repeal "don't ask, don't tell."

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Anonymous Marc Schneider said...

I commented on this issue on Centerfield. I was pretty appalled at the number of people who think that the military should be able to do whatever it wants under the rubric of "unit cohesion." I have never been in the military but it seems to me that the same arguments were made with respect to integration. I don't think the military should be exempt from the social changes that exist in society; if the world's most powerful military can't integrate gays, then it seems to me that we need new leadership.

3/14/2007 4:00 PM  
Blogger Sean Aqui said...

I've been in the Army. Military discipline is more than capable of handling this problem. The unit cohesion argument is, IMO, bunk. There are lots of things that damage unit cohesion, but the sexual orientation of the guy in the foxhole next to you isn't one. When the bullets start flying, you stop caring about stuff like race, gender, religion and the like.

Even if that were a legitimate concern, it's limited to actual combat units. There's still no reason to prohibit gays from openly serving in about 90% of the military. Does anyone actually care if your payroll clerk, quartermaster or linguist is gay? No. It's the same way women soldiers were treated when they were first allowed in -- banned from combat slots, but otherwise allowed to serve.

3/14/2007 4:26 PM  

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