Feature

‘Don’t ask’ survives

Senate Republicans blocked a repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the policy banning gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military.

Sharpening partisan divisions in advance of November’s midterm elections, Senate Republicans this week blocked a repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the policy banning gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military. Republicans unanimously filibustered a defense-spending bill that included the repeal after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he’d limit Republican amendments, while allowing amendments that would grant legal status to young, undocumented immigrants who attend college or serve in the military and ease restrictions on abortions in military hospitals.

With repeal’s fate uncertain, the White House expressed disappointment, while Republican Sen. John McCain blamed Reid for engaging in a “blatant and cynical” ploy to energize Democratic voters. A Pentagon review of the ban on gays is expected to be finished by Dec. 1.

Linking repeal with a provision for “amnesty” for illegal aliens left Republicans no choice, said National Review Online in an editorial. Up to 2 million illegals would have been eligible for a path to citizenship if Reid’s amendment had passed. Those immigrants, in turn, could sponsor their parents for citizenship, thus rewarding “millions of illegal immigrants for breaking the law.”

But the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” is long overdue, said Bret Stephens in The Wall Street Journal. The cost of training replacements for the 14,000 qualified gay servicemen who’ve been discharged since 1993 has been $600 million, and due to a shortage of recruits, some of those replacements are felons. As the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and many generals have pointed out, it’s not gay soldiers who undermine unit cohesion, it’s this foolish policy of forcing them to lie. “That’s no way to run a military.”

Both Democrats and Republicans benefited from this farce, said The Washington Post in an editorial. Democrats can now run campaign ads arguing that Republicans “blocked funding for the troops in a spiteful move to prevent fairness in the military.” Republicans can claim that Democrats sabotaged the bill to pursue an “extreme liberal” agenda. Everybody wins. Except, of course, gay soldiers—“and the rational policy of making the best use of all Americans who want to help defend the country.”

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