The New York Times reports that Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the Army chief of the staff, and Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, the Air Force chief of staff, oppose the move to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell. DADT is a statute that excludes known gays and lesbians from military service. President Obama has promised to seek repeal of DADT. Recently, Senator Joe Lieberman has said that he will introduce a bill to repeal the legislation.
Casey, appearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, said that "I do have serious concerns about the impact of repeal of the law on a force that’s fully engaged in two wars and has been at war for eight-and-a-half years. . . We just don’t know the impacts on readiness and military effectiveness." Schwartz testified before the House Armed Services Committee and stated that “[t]his is not the time to perturb the force that is, at the moment, stretched by demands in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere without careful deliberation. . . ." Studies, however, show that the presence of out gays and lesbians would not disrupt military service.
The Defense Department advanced similar arguments to support discrimination against gays and lesbians during the Bush administration. Bush's Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who also heads the department in the Obama administration, also advanced those claims. Gates, however, now supports lifting the ban.
I am always humored when military personnel argue that the mere presence of an openly gay or lesbian person could disrupt service or demoralize the troops. The nation expects members of the armed forces to abandon their families and loved ones, invade countries, slaughter opposing forces, and protect national security. But these same "warriors" are apparently so fragile that they will have a nervous breakdown if they have to serve alongside known gay or lesbian individuals. If this is the case, then perhaps they are not tough enough for military service in the first place.