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.
At a Senate hearing earlier this month, Sen. John McCain R-Ariz., urged Mullen and Defense Secretary Robert Gates to “keep the impact it will have on our forces firmly in mind.”
Yet those gathered at Marine House made it clear they’ve already accepted the idea of gays and lesbians serving among them.
After Tuesday’s question-and-answer session, Mullen told McClatchy that although he’s held three town hall sessions with troops since his testimony, not a single service member has asked him about the issue.
At Tuesday’s session, which included not only Marines, but members of the Army and the Air Force, both male and female service members explained why they were nonplussed by the issue: They’d already served with gays and lesbians, they accepted that some kind of change was imminent, and, they said, the nation was too engulfed in two wars for a prolonged debate about it.
That there’s been so little reaction raises questions about how much study the issue needs and whether the Pentagon study is meant to pacify its concerns — or Congress’.
“Sir, I would say that 70 years ago you can I couldn’t serve in the same Navy, the same Air Force, same Army because of the color of my skin and because of the social conditions of the day,” Robinson told Mullen. “It took leadership, it took a lot of time to get people to change their views, and a lot of social change to make it possible for us today. It goes beyond scientific evidence. I think it’s purely a social issue.”
So it’s now appearing we may not even need the study. Then why does the White House refuse to lead?