Under the Bush administration, record numbers of gay and lesbian service members have been discharged due to their sexual identity, even those in crucial jobs such as translating Arabic into English. Considering the discrimination inherent to "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and the pressing military and intelligence needs of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, shouldn't DADT be quickly repealed by the Obama administration?
That's Andrew Sullivan's position, and I'd certainly like to believe that an immediate DADT repeal would be politically feasible. Sure, the issue was a disaster for Bill Clinton in 1993, but today's America is quite different when it comes to acceptance of homosexuality; according to one poll, 75 percent of Americans now support the rights of gays to serve in the military.
Yet tackling the issue in the midst of two wars will be delicate, and there are conflicting reports on whether the Obama team plans on delaying the repeal of DADT until 2010, as the Washington Times reported last week. Yesterday the Washington Blade, a gay and lesbian paper, reported that the transition team was downplaying the Washington Times piece and saying no decision will be made on DADT until a full defense team is in place. But even Rep. Barney Frank, who is gay, is urging caution, telling the Blade that it would be wiser to put off dealing with DADT until after the troops return from Iraq.
That may be pragmatic, but it'll be little comfort to the LGBT troops risking their lives in the field right now. Just a reminder of the many tensions that are sure to play out between the incoming administration and various progressive interest groups.
cross-posted at TAPPED