“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the 18-year-old policy that banned gay soldiers from serving openly in the military, was declared unconstitutional by a federal judge one year ago this month.
The policy was repealed by Congress in December 2010 and signed into law by President Obama days later. That repeal went into effect Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2011.
At a Pentagon news conference, retiring Navy Adm. Mike Mullen said, “I still believe that it was first and foremost a matter of integrity, that it was fundamentally against everything we stand for as an institution to force people to lie about who they are just to wear a uniform. We are better than that.”
Nonetheless, several of the presidential candidates seeking the Republican nomination have voiced their support for DADT. At the Fox News/Google GOP presidential debate Thursday night in Orlando, Rick Santorum, answering a question in the third person about what he would do with the policy as commander in chief, said, “(W)e would reinstitute that policy if Rick Santorum was president.”
His answer was applauded by the audience. The gay soldier who asked the question, Stephen Hill, who is currently serving in Iraq, was booed by the audience.
Other than Ron Paul, who believes everything is a states-rights issue, the rest of the candidates opposed the repeal of DADT.
• Mitt Romney… advocated for gays to be able to serve “openly and honestly” in the military in 1994 but has since changed gears. Since 2007, he has maintained consistency in arguing that DADT “has worked well.”
“We’re in the middle of a conflict. Now is not the time for a change in that regard, and I don’t have a policy posture as to allowing gays in the military to serve there openly.”
That said, Romney has no idea when we won’t be “in the middle of conflict.” He believes our mission in Afghanistan should end when our military generals decide it is time to leave.
• Michele Bachmann…voted against repealing DADT in December.
“The Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy has worked very well,” she told CNN in August of this year. “It worked very well and I would be in consultation with our commanders, but I think yes, I probably would (reinstitute it as president).”
• Rick Perry…hates all things gay.
• Herman Cain…is irrelevant but a candidate nonetheless. He has said he wouldn’t have overturned DADT in the first place, but added that he wouldn’t create a “distraction” by trying to repeal the repeal now that it’s done: “Our men and women have too many other things to be concerned about.”
• Newt Gingrich…doesn’t matter either, but for the record he has voiced support for letting the generals decide.
Sadly, even the constitutionalist of the bunch, Ron Paul, is wrong.
States have a role in the ratification of Constitutional amendments, but they don’t get to decide what is or isn’t constitutional. Generals and commanders don’t get to decide what is or isn’t constitutional. Homophobics don’t get to decide what is or isn’t constitutional. Being in “the middle of conflict” doesn’t have any bearing on what is or isn’t constitutional. And the people who attend presidential debates, people who think it’s appropriate to boo active-duty soldiers, they don’t get to decide what is or isn’t constitutional, either.
Being patriotic, conservative American citizens, however, they do get to exercise their First Amendment rights by covering their vehicles in “Support Our Troops” bumper stickers.
I’m sure Stephen Hill is honored.
• The Worst Fox News-Google Debate Moment: Audience Boos Gay Soldier (The Atlantic)
• Audience Boos Gay Soldier at GOP Debate (Crooks&Liars.com)
• Republican Debate Audience Boos U.S. Soldier (Political Animal)