Connecticut senator key to repealing discriminatory Pentagon policy
The Hartford Courant
May 29, 2010
If President Barack Obama makes good on his promise to get rid of the odious policy that bars gay men and lesbians from serving openly in the military, Joe Lieberman will deserve some of the credit. He is among a handful of lawmakers taking the lead in the attempt to get Congress to repeal the statutory underpinning of the 17-year-old "don't ask, don't tell" policy.
The House voted for repeal Thursday night, and the full Senate soon will take up the issue.
"Don't ask, don't tell" has been responsible for cashiering about 13,000 servicemen and women who were ably serving their country. It has been an awful squandering of talent that the nation desperately needs.
The president, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, want to repeal the policy. The brakes have rightly been applied to enforcement of the discriminatory policy: Soldiers rumored to be gay by third parties won't be hounded out of the military.
Even if Congress approves, repeal legislation will not become effective until the Pentagon completes its study (in December) of the impact of allowing homosexuals to serve openly — something allowed in most allied militaries. Then Mr. Obama and the military must certify that repeal won't threaten military "readiness, cohesion, effectiveness, recruiting and retention."
Mr. Lieberman was one of the key lawmakers who put together the repeal proposal with the White House. For that he should be thanked by all fair-minded Americans.
Passage in the Senate is not a cinch. Republican leaders threaten to oppose repeal — holding hostage the careers of patriotic gay Americans for cynical political reasons. Nor is Pentagon acceptance of repeal guaranteed. But the repeal deal brings closer the day when the discriminatory policy is banished and gay and lesbian soldiers who lay their lives on the line for their country are no longer treated like second-class citizens.