Having openly gay people serving in the military was supposed to ruin everything—at least if you believed opponents of allowing them to serve openly. But a new Pentagon report given to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta this week says that, in fact, absolutely nothing has changed in the eight months since the ban on homosexuals in the military was lifted. Will wonders never cease?
Since "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" began in 1993 people have been telling tale of the horrors that awaited us, should it ever be repealed. Meanwhile, during that time 14,500 service members were thrown out simply for the crime of being gay. That's all over now, thank goodness, and, according to Panetta, "It's not impacting on morale. It's not impacting on unit cohesion. It is not impacting on readiness." No unit has dissolved in pandemonium? No morale has been destroyed? Wow, it's almost as if gay people were just regular people like the rest of the soldiers and sailors and pilots serving openly as heterosexuals...
Army General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also said he's seen no negative effects. When he was asked what military leaders had been so afraid of, he explained,
What were we afraid of is we didn't know. And I think that the way we were given a year to make this assessment to educate ourselves to collaborate, to build the sense of trust ... I think it worked out well.
This is obviously good news, and it's great that it has been such a smooth transition. But this outcome also holds a big a lesson for us all as we discuss moving military women—with all their feelings and lack of upper body strength—into combat positions. The marines have already started this process, and with any luck eventually the rest of the military will follow suit.
As progress in this area marches forward, the opposition is bound to get louder and louder. After all, change is scary and makes people yell! But since so many of their objections fall into the same categories that were used to argue against having openly gay people serve, it should be a lot easier to dismiss them this time around now, that we have proof that a shift like this can take place with minimal disruption. And, of course, there's the irrefutable proof that women have more or less been serving unofficially in combat roles during these most recent conflicts and so far have failed to destroy the mission from the inside out.
Pentagon: No impact from ending gay ban [Reuters]