In anticipation of today’s landmark hearing on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the Chair of the Armed Services Committee, Carl Levin (D-MI), wrote an op-ed, which appeared in Politico. He supports repealing DADT, but wants us to know there’s a need to be “sensitive to any complications” from such a move. Here’s an excerpt:
An army is not a democracy. It is a meritocracy, where advancement depends not on who you are, but on how well you do your job. The meritocratic nature of our military has made it a leader in civil rights. It can be again on this issue.
So there is little reason to continue this policy. But as we proceed, it is vital that we are sensitive to any complications of this policy shift. Change is always hard, especially when it involves social issues or personal beliefs. Lack of care as we proceed might spark opposition from those who could be open to change, and inflame the opposition of those already against it. And I would encourage those who favor change not to mistake deliberation for undue delay.
As the Senate Armed Services Committee considers this issue, we will hear not only from the secretary of defense and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. We will consult with experts inside and outside the government. And we will consider not only the views of officers, but of enlisted troops who understand best how the change will affect life in the ranks, and of those who sought only to serve their country, but have been denied the opportunity.
Our goal will be to move quickly but deliberately to maximize the opportunity for all Americans to serve their country while addressing any concerns that may be raised. We should end “don’t ask, don’t tell,” and we should do it in a way that honors our nation’s values while making it more secure.
It’s very hard not mistake to deliberation for undue delay. We know what we’re up against. The opposition is going to be fierce and ugly. I think a lot of us wonder if our allies will have the same level of commitment or whether they’ll start compromising with themselves like they always do.
There hasn’t been a great track record of leadership from the Democratic Party on progressive issues over the past year. That’s why we worry.