This week, the United States Congress voted in the Senate and the House to strike out an arcane statute, 10 USC Section 654, commonly know as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT)” which bans gays and lesbians from openly serving in the military. DADT is the only remaining federal personnel policy which allows for third party hearsay as grounds for dismissal or discharge. Voting to repeal DADT removes the 1993 Congressional mandate imposed upon the Department of Defense. Repeal of DADT gets Congress out of the business of personnel management, and bolsters the current comprehensive and necessary review process ordered by Defense Secretary Robert Gates. Navy Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has once again confirmed he is comfortable with the proposed legislative fix to repeal the DADT law.
As a veteran of the Iraq campaign, I can attest the DADT policy remains a hindrance to servicemember integrity, readiness, security and is a waste of tax revenues. The application and enforcement of DADT is counter to servicemembers’ responsibility and accountability under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). DADT forces servicemembers to hide or lie about their sexual orientation. Dishonesty is inherently counter to the long held Army values of Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity and Personal Courage. Even worse, dishonesty and lying is a security threat. Repeal of DADT not only removes the specter of discharge, it also removes the risk of blackmail and compromising national security. Where being gay or lesbian were once grounds for punitive personnel actions or dismissal, the CIA, FBI, State Department, the Defense Department on the civilian side, and defense contractors no longer take into account sexual orientation for reasons of dismissal.
Further, striking the DADT policy and implementing repeal will be a force multiplier for the retention and increase of much needed personnel and resources for a military committed to missions around the globe. For 16 years, the United States has unnecessarily lost valuable human and financial capital to DADT. According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the Palm Center Blue Ribbon Commission, the government incurs costs of an estimated $22,000 to $43,000 per discharged servicemember. These estimates do not even account for the tremendous loss of expertise as well as the tax payer revenue expended training and equipping discharged members.
DADT is a threat to military integrity and readiness. DADT is a threat to national security. DADT is a waste of tax payer dollars. DADT is discriminatory. DADT is un-American. To put it in military nomenclature, DADT is a ‘No Go.’ The time is right for the Congress to be on the right side of history and finally repeal of DADT.
R. Clarke Cooper is the Executive Director of the Log Cabin Republicans. He is a combat veteran, former Bush appointee and currently serves as an Army reserve officer.