Tuesday, January 02, 2007

General Changes Mind on Gays in Military

General John M. Shalikashvili, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff when the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy was crafted during the Clinton Administration, now thinks the time has come to welcome gays and lesbians into the military:

The question before us now is whether enough time has gone by to give this policy serious reconsideration. Much evidence suggests that it has.

Last year I held a number of meetings with gay soldiers and marines, including some with combat experience in Iraq, and an openly gay senior sailor who was serving effectively as a member of a nuclear submarine crew. These conversations showed me just how much the military has changed, and that gays and lesbians can be accepted by their peers.

This perception is supported by a new Zogby poll of more than 500 service members returning from Afghanistan and Iraq, three quarters of whom said they were comfortable interacting with gay people. And 24 foreign nations, including Israel, Britain and other allies in the fight against terrorism, let gays serve openly, with none reporting morale or recruitment problems.

I now believe that if gay men and lesbians served openly in the United States military, they would not undermine the efficacy of the armed forces. Our military has been stretched thin by our deployments in the Middle East, and we must welcome the service of any American who is willing and able to do the job.

The general goes a little wobbly in the knees when he suggests that Congress shouldn't address the issue until there is first a bipartisan strategy agreed upon to fix Iraq - as if that is going to happen while the current President occupies the White House - but this is a clear signal that in the military, the issue is pretty much a dead one. Probably not in Colorado, but everywhere else.

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