"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Repealed: What's Next?
On Saturday, the Senate finally voted to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" by a majority of 65 to 31 (you can check out how your Senator voted here). So what's next?
The BBC and The New York Times have done a nice job of gathering responses to the repeal from active, retired, straight, and gay military personnel. While the majority are in favor of removing the ban that has prevented openly homosexual soldiers from serving in the military for the past 17 years, a few do express concern.
One marine told The Times that he wouldn't be surprised if some soldiers wanted to sleep separately from their openly gay colleagues, while Private Alex Tuck expressed the common view that "showers will be awkward." These and other potentially difficult scenarios are considered at length in recent Pentagon report, which will form the basis for the military's next step: a huge policy overhaul.
As Air Force Chief of Staff, General Norton A. Schwartz, warned troops on Sunday, the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" won't go into effect immediately. First, the military has to assure the Commander-in-Chief that its policies and regulations have been revised appropriately, and without any impact on troop readiness, cohesion, or military recruitment and retention. Still, according to the The Washington Post, campaigners believe that the full repeal could be implemented as soon as April.
And after that? We will have taken a huge step toward a more just and equal society and we may well have a better fighting force. Perhaps, as I wrote the other week, we can even start making some progress on another shared civilian and military challenge: obesity.