Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
Pew Research has a new poll out showing that the nation has shifted on Don't Ask Don't Tell, since the 1990s. Fighting The “Gay Agenda,” Not So Much Of A Political Winner Anymore:
Only 27 percent of Americans oppose gays and lesbians serving openly in the military, down from 45 percent in 1994. Fifty-eight percent of Americans support ending DADT. Even among Republicans, there is a narrow split: 44 percent oppose gays serving, while 40 percent favor. One in three white evangelicals support allowing gays to serve, and among those who attend religious services weekly, the divide is 40/40. In short, opposing the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell is not a political winner for most politicians.
Greg Sargent at the Washington Post's Plum Line blog has more on the Pew poll. Dear moderate GOP Senators: Moderate GOP voters want DADT repealed:
[T]he fate of Don't Ask Don't Tell rests in the hands of a few moderate Republican Senators. With Senator John McCain continuing to threaten a filibuster of DADT repeal, only support from a handful of moderates, such as Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, Dick Lugar and possibly John Ensign, will be enough to make repeal a reality.
Maybe someone should tell these moderate GOP officials that according to the internals of the new Pew poll, moderate Republican rank-and-filers strongly favor DADT's repeal. Indeed, the only group that opposes repeal are conservative Republicans.
The Pew poll finds that Republicans overall are closely divided on DADT repeal, 40-44. But the breakdown of Republicans is striking. It finds that "moderate" and "liberal" Republicans strongly favor repeal, 62-26. The only reason Republicans are closely divided at all is because conservative Republicans oppose it, 28-52.
This becomes even more pronounced when you factor in Republicans and Republican "leaners." It turns out that this group favors repeal of DADT, 44-39. And the only subset of this group who oppose repeal are those who support the Tea Party: They are against repeal 38-48.
By the way, independents overall also strongly favor repeal, 62-23.
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Self-described moderate GOP Senators have a choice: They can support repeal, siding with large majorities of moderate Republican voters, independents, and the American people overall, not to mention the nation's military leadership. Or they can oppose repeal, siding with Mitch McConnell, who wants to deny the Dems a victory at all costs, John McCain, who has put his quest to refight the 2008 election over his own previous vow to go along with the military leadership on this question, and a small but very vocal and reactionary Tea Party minority.
The Pentagon moved up the release of its DADT Study to Tuesday. "The Pentagon has concluded that allowing gay men and women to serve openly in the United States armed forces presents a low risk to the military’s effectiveness, even at a time of war, and that 70 percent of service members believe that the impact of repealing the 'don’t ask, don’t tell' law would be either positive, mixed or of no consequence at all." Pentagon Sees Little Impact if Ban on Gays Is Repealed:
In an exhaustive nine-month study on the effects of repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell” Defense Department Report (pdf), the 17-year-old policy that requires service members to keep their sexual orientation secret or face discharge, the authors concluded that while in the short run a repeal would likely bring about “some limited and isolated disruption to unit cohesion and retention,” it could be mitigated by effective leadership.
The report, by Jeh C. Johnson, the Pentagon’s chief counsel, and Gen. Carter F. Ham, the commander of the United States Army in Europe, also found that much of the concern in the armed forces about openly gay service members was driven by misperceptions and stereotypes. Leaving aside those with moral and religious objections to homosexuality, the authors said that the concerns were “exaggerated and not consistent with the reported experiences of many service members.”
At a news conference on Tuesday announcing the release of the report, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said that repeal “would not be the wrenching, traumatic change that many have feared and predicted.”
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In a survey of 115,000 service members, the report found distinct differences among the service branches. While 30 percent predicted repeal would have some negative effects, some 40 to 60 percent of the Marine Corps and those in some combat specialties said it would be negative.
The report also found that a majority — 69 percent — believed they had already worked with a gay man or woman, and of those the vast majority — 92 percent — reported that the unit’s ability to work together was very good, good or “neither good nor poor.”
In the most strongly worded section of the report, the authors concluded that while their mandate was to assess the impact of repealing the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy — and not whether it should be repealed — they had done just that.
“We are both convinced that our military can do this, even during this time of war,” Mr. Johnson and General Ham wrote. “We do not underestimate the challenges in implementing a change in the law, but neither should we underestimate the ability of our extraordinarily dedicated service men and women to adapt to such change and continue to provide our nation with the military capability to accomplish any mission.”
As Greg Sargent notes at the Washington Posts' Plum Line, "Bottom line: The military has spoken. And the pretexts for opposing repeal are running out." Pentagon report will leave opponents of DADT repeal little to work with.
Mr. Gates said it was a “matter of urgency” that the lame-duck Senate vote in the next weeks to repeal the law. If not, he said there would be a fight in the courts and the possibility that the repeal would be “imposed immediately by judicial fiat.”
Of course, Arizona's angry old homophobe, John McCain, remains undeterred in his pursuit of denying equal rights to men and women proudly serving their country in the U.S. Armed Forces who just happen to be gay.
Over the weekend, Senator McCain, who used to be described as "independent" and "moderate" and a "maverick," said DADT is "working" and denounced the proposal as a "political promise made by an inexperienced candidate for President of the United States." McCain Dismisses Gates’ Letter On DADT, Attacks Obama As ‘Inexperienced’ For Promising Repeal:
Several weeks ago, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) refused to accept the findings of the Pentagon’s Working Group review of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy and insisted that the Department of Defense conduct an entirely new study on “the effects on morale and battle effectiveness.” [Sunday] morning, CNN’s Candy Crowley asked McCain to respond to a letter he received from Secretary of Defense Robert Gates — first obtained and published by the Wonk Room — in which Gates defended the soon-to-be released study and argued that it would provide the military sufficient information into the effect of lifting the ban on gays serving openly. “I do not believe that military policy decisions — on this or any other subject — should be made through a referendum of Servicemembers,” Gates wrote, adding, “The Chairman and I fully support the approach and the efforts of the working group, as do the Service Chiefs.”
But McCain remained undeterred. He agreed that decisions about integration should not be held hostage to the opinions of servicemembers, but then insisted that Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell doesn’t pose a problem for gay soldiers or the military. He also reiterated that the Service Chiefs — three of whom publicly endorsed the study last week — are still concerned about repeal:
CROWLEY: Doesn’t [Gates] have a point?
MCCAIN: Well, I think he certainly has a point. I would also certainly say that we should remember where this all started. There was no uprising in the military, there was no problems with Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. […]
It wasn’t a problem because you didn’t have. It’s called ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ Okay? If you don’t ask somebody and they don’t tell and it’s an all volunteer force. […] The fact is, this was a political promise made by an inexperienced President or candidate for Presidency of the United States. […]
The fact is, that this system is working and I believe we need to assess the effect on the morale and battle effectiveness of those people, those young Marines and Army people I met.
Despite McCain’s assertions, multiple reports have detailed the litany of costs “incurred by the military, the troops — both gay and non-gay alike — and the nation as a result of DADT. Indeed, research and experience now show that the policy is a costly failure that has had the opposite of its intended effect. As DADT scholar Nathaniel Frank points out, far from protecting military readiness, the policy has harmed it, “sacrificing badly needed personnel that is replaced with less qualified talent; undermining cohesion, integrity, and trust through forced dishonesty; hurting the morale of gay troops by limiting their access to support services; wasting hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars; invading the privacy of all service members—gay and non-gay alike—by casting a cloud of suspicion and uncertainty over the intimate lives of everyone in the armed forces; and damaging the military’s reputation which makes it harder to recruit the best and brightest America has to offer.”
McCain’s characterization of President Obama as “inexperienced” is particularly petty [hence his well-deserved nickname "McNasty"], however, since every Democratic president and presidential candidate since President Clinton has come out against the ban.
It is time for the Arizona political media to tell John McCain to stand down and to "do the right thing" as the Arizona Republic did today with respect to the DREAM Act. It's time Congress did right thing.