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DADT, The House Hearing

After an epic 17 year battle, Congress authorized the repeal of the discriminatory Don't Ask Don't Tell law last December.  In a grand signing ceremony just before Christmas, President Obama put his signature to the legislation in an auditorium filled with those who had fought for their country and for an end to the prejudicial policy.  In an historical understatement, the President put down the final pen and said, "This is done!"

The procedure that followed was in place, prepared over a yearlong period of study and planning by the Pentagon to implement the transition to open service by patriotic lesbian and gay volunteers.  Back at the beginning of last year, during Senate Armed Services Committee hearings, several service chiefs had expressed strong reservations about even considering such a change.  These were the top generals and admirals who had spent their lives dedicated to serving our nation with the utmost professionalism and courage.  They did not hesitate to assure Congress that, if ordered to do so, they could and would implement the change.  These military leaders do not hesitate.  They know what "can do" means.   They have done exactly what they said they would do; with leadership and determination, they have now nearly completed one of the largest training programs in the history of our armed forces.  As the British Royal services did over a decade ago, they competed to get the job done rapidly and best, in the spirit of readiness.

There are some in Congress, however, who have never served and have no concept of our military tradition of patriotic loyalty and ability to move forward with any task ordered from winning WWII to integrating and implementing diversity in our armed forces.  And so, on April 7th of this year, 2011, the House Armed Services Committee belatedly held a hearing on 'oversight' of the repeal implementation process.  The service chiefs were asked to testify before the committee and answer questions.  From the opening remarks of the  of the committee members who had called the hearing, and the tone of the questions, it was clear that they expected that the service chiefs would express the same reservations and or opposition to allowing open gay service in our armed forces as they did early in 2010 at the Senate Armed Services Committee hearings.  They didn’t.

The Commandant of the Marine Corps was the most forthright in righteously stating that the elite Marines are completing the transition better and quicker than any other service.  When asked about resistance among those serving combat zones, he said that he had had direct interaction with Marines in Afghanistan and they indicated that they were focused on battling the enemy and were unconcerned about serving alongside those they have already been serving with.

In response to questions about the necessity of new rules regarding disruptive conduct by gay service members in the close confines of combat and submarines, The chiefs clearly stated that the sexual orientation of their service members was irrelevant; no new rules have been needed in that the rules of conduct apply to all.  The service chiefs stated that the key to the ongoing success was leadership, starting with themselves, in instructing troops on the next step in diversity in our armed forces.

The hearing was not going at all the way House opponents of repeal had hoped.  About a week earlier, they had inquired about the cost of the repeal implementation training, perhaps thinking that they could somehow cut off the funding and thereby prevent progress.  It turned out that it is likely costing less than the taxpayer's money which was wasted on the hearing itself.

Frustrated, a House opponent of DADT repeal rudely suggested that the service chief's current testimony might be disingenuous due to their being within the chain of command, despite their previous testimony to the Senate last year.  The ignorance of this insult to the integrity of our service chiefs, and all of our patriotic service members, is breathtaking.  Those of us who have proudly served know and understand that our service chiefs meant exactly what they said when they testified that they expect nothing less than getting the job done right.

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“I want to be clear to all Marines, we will step out smartly to faithfully implement this new law. It's important that we value the diversity of background, culture and skills that all Marines bring to the service of our nation."   - General James Amos, Commandant of the Marine Corps

"We are confident that you are up to task, and that we can implement this change in policy by relying on the leadership, professionalism, discipline and respect for each other that have characterized our service for the past 235 years and remain at the core of the United States Army." - General George Casey, Army Chief of Staff

“Combat effectiveness is what we provide as a Navy. And repeal will neither change who we are nor what we do. The time is right, the time is now, and we will lead a prompt and thoughtful implementation." - Admiral Gary Roughead, Chief of Naval Operations

“I know our Airmen will approach this issue professionally, and will continue to adhere faithfully to our core values of integrity, service before self, and excellence in all we do.  Implementing this change while fighting a war is challenging, but I have no doubt that the Air Force will do this in a way that minimizes operational impact and successfully accomplishes the important task of training our force." - General Norton Schwartz, Air Force Chief of Staff

“The repeal is the right thing to do; our shipmates will no longer be forced to hide or even lie about their sexual orientation...As the Commandant and I have said in the past, we do not harbor the slightest doubt that the men and women of the Coast Guard are up to the task of implementing the change associated with this repeal.” - Vice Admiral Sally Brice-O’Hara, Vice Commandant of the Coast Guard

  2011 Gay Military Signal