Pentagon report to bolster DADT repeal

PENTAGON REPORT TO BOLSTER DADT REPEAL…. When Senate Republicans blocked a vote on repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” several weeks ago, it’s likely they were stalling for time. Conservatives, led by John McCain, said Congress couldn’t possibly tackle this issue before first reading the results of the Pentagon’s poll of 400,000 active-duty and reserve troops, as well as 150,000 family members, which is due Dec. 1.

But if anti-gay Republicans thought the survey would help derail repeal, they apparently had it backwards.

The first leak of the survey results noted that a majority of active-duty and reserve service members would not object to serving and living alongside openly gay troops. This morning, the Washington Post has an even more detailed account of the completed-but-unreleased report.

A Pentagon study group has concluded that the military can lift the ban on gays serving openly in uniform with only minimal and isolated incidents of risk to the current war efforts, according to two people familiar with a draft of the report, which is due to President Obama on Dec. 1.

More than 70 percent of respondents to a survey sent to active-duty and reserve troops over the summer said the effect of repealing the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy would be positive, mixed or nonexistent, said two sources familiar with the document. The survey results led the report’s authors to conclude that objections to openly gay colleagues would drop once troops were able to live and serve alongside them.

If I had to guess, I’d say the timing of these leaks has been carefully calibrated. Senators are working behind the scenes this week on how to proceed with the military spending bill that includes DADT repeal as a provision, and there’s talk united, anti-gay Republican opposition may very well scuttle the entire effort.

But it’s at least possible that a handful of GOP senators will be swayed — at least to let the Senate hold an up-or-down vote — if they know that U.S. servicemen and women, like the rest of the population, are comfortable with ending this absurd policy.

By the time the vote comes up during the lame-duck session, the Senate will have a 58-42 split in Democrats’ favor. A grand total of two Republicans, then, would have to be willing to break party ranks and agree to let the Senate vote on funding the military.

If my speculation is right, leaks on the survey’s results from the Obama administration may be intended to signal to Democrats that they shouldn’t cave beforehand. Here’s hoping the Senate majority gets the message.