More progress on DADT

MORE PROGRESS ON DADT…. The tide continues to turn.

In an unusual show of support for allowing gay men and lesbians to serve openly in the armed forces, an article in an official military journal argues forcefully for repealing the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law, which requires homosexuals in the services to keep their sexual orientation secret.

The article, which appears in Joint Force Quarterly and was reviewed before publication by the office of Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says that “after a careful examination, there is no scientific evidence to support the claim that unit cohesion will be negatively affected if homosexuals serve openly.”

Although the article, by an Air Force colonel, Om Prakash, carries no weight as a matter of policy, it may well signal a shift in the official winds. It won the 2009 Secretary of Defense National Security Essay competition.

Colonel Prakash, who researched the issue while a student at the National Defense University, in Washington, and who now works in the Pentagon, concludes that “it is not time for the administration to re-examine the issue.” Instead, he writes, “it is time for the administration to examine how to implement the repeal of the ban.”

The Joint Force Quarterly article highlights many of the painful consequences of a discriminatory and ineffective policy, most notably the fact that it undermines unit cohesion, though it was intended to do the opposite.

“In an attempt to allow homosexual service members to serve quietly, a law was created that forces a compromise in integrity, conflicts with the American creed of ‘equality for all,’ places commanders in difficult moral dilemmas and is ultimately more damaging to the unit cohesion its stated purpose is to preserve,” Prakash explained.

The Boston Globe‘s Bryan Bender, who first reported on the piece, noted that its publication may signal the Pentagon’s willingness to finally scrap DADT. Here’s hoping that’s the case.

In related news, the Huffington Post reported this morning that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who supports a DADT repeal, sent letters to President Obama and Defense Secretary Robert Gates last week, asking them to “bring to Congress your recommendations on DADT.”

As for the House, Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Pa.), a decorated Army combat veteran, took the lead in the House on repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in July. Murphy continues to make progress — his bill, H.R. 1283, now has 176 House co-sponsors, including eight more who signed on in August.

For more on the larger debate, Mark Kleiman had a good piece last night: “Anyone who can read military tea-leaves – and no one makes Colonel or Navy Captain, let alone flag or star rank, without expertise in that form of divination – can see that the Battle of DADT is over, and the mopping-up operations are ready to begin.”