04/12/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Being At War Is No Excuse To Forestall DADT Repeal

Opponents of repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell come in many colors. You have your dyed-in-the-wool bigots, who just aren't going to change but will one day get washed away by the changing attitudes of more capable and enlightened generations. You have people who realistically acknowledge the fact that gays and lesbians are already serving in the military, but can't understand why DADT presents any sort of undue burden. And then you get a whole bunch of people -- some likely from Column A, some from Column B -- who, out of a matter of convenience, just think that this is an issue best settled once the nation is not "at war." When was that going to be, exactly?

Here's Spencer Ackerman, making sense:

It's been said that wartime is no time to get rid of DADT. It might be the best time. A combat-experienced military learns very quickly that it has no time for trivial bigotries. It requires the most competent and professional people possible. That's why a mission-first ethos naturally leads to an antipathy for DADT. And who's more motivated for the mission than people who want to serve so badly that they'll currently suppress an important aspect of their identity because of an older generation's sensibilities?

I think that's a pretty smart take. I'd add that when this battle was lost, back during the dawn of the Clinton administration, the country was experiencing a period of relatively sustained peace. So, experience teaches me that sometimes we don't exactly make the most of the time and space provided when the country is not at war.

From my point of view, the fact that we are currently in a state of sustained, strenuous deployments has created an environment where you hear about a trained Arabic linguist like Lieutenant Dan Choi getting cashiered because of this idiotic rationale and think, "Is this stuff just not REAL enough for you?" The inescapable fact is that this policy is contributing to a national security deficit, not a national security enhancement.

On a related note, you might take a look at what the soldiers in the 10th Mountain Division have to say about "Don't Ask Don't Tell." You won't find a unanimous opinion on the matter, but it's pretty clear that the opinion of those on active duty trends strongly in favor of repealing "Don't Ask Don't Tell." I'm not at all surprised by this: in my experience, I've found that our fighting men and women tend to think big. Lawmakers should follow their example.

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