A new day on DADT

A NEW DAY ON DADT…. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mike Mullen generated national attention two weeks ago when he told the Senate Armed Services Committee that he sees no reason to block gays and lesbians from serving openly in the U.S. military. He immediately faced pushback from far-right Republican senators, who publicly questioned his integrity.

Would Mullen face a similar reaction from U.S. troops, who were no doubt aware of his public stance on the issue? Apparently not.

Navy Adm. Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was nearing the end of a 25-minute question and answer session with troops serving here when he raised a topic of his own: “No one’s asked me about ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,'” he said.

As it turned out, none of the two dozen or so men or women who met with Mullen at Marine House in the Jordanian capital Tuesday had any questions on the 17-year-old policy that bars gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military — or Mullen’s public advocacy of its repeal.

Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Darryl E. Robinson, who’s the operations coordinator for defense attache’s office at the U.S. Embassy here, explained why after the session. “The U.S. military was always at the forefront of social change,” he said. “We didn’t wait for laws to change.”

Mullen has held three separate town-hall sessions with troops since his testimony on DADT, and the response among members of the military “has been little more than a shrug.”

Army Staff Sgt. Peppur Alexander, 33, a 14-year veteran now serving at the U.S. Embassy, told Mullen that she’s served with gays and lesbians. More than 13,000 troops have left the military since Congress enacted the policy.

“We have lost good soldiers because of that because they wanted to be who they are,” Alexander said. “It’s sad.”

Mullen has changed the game. His testimony not only positions repeal as a mainstream position of the American military leadership, but it’s largely signaled that the change is inevitable.

Time for Congress to follow through and get this done.