Wall Street Journal's Stephens: "Repeal DADT"


In his September 21 Wall Street Journal column, deputy editorial page editor Bret Stephen argued for the repeal of the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, saying: "Gays in the military: The White House and Congress owe them better":

The values argument isn't the half of it. Since DADT came into force in 1993, some 14,000 service members have been discharged under the policy--the equivalent of an entire division of warfighters. Investigating and processing each case has its costs; so does recruiting and training each replacement. How much? A 2006 commission organized by UCLA's Palm Center and led by former Defense Secretary William Perry put the total cost of each discharge at $42,835, meaning the policy has now cost the U.S. taxpayer around $600 million.

That's not pocket change, especially for a military scrounging for savings. It's also no small matter at a time when the military's recruitment standards for age, education, physical fitness and moral standards have been steadily declining. In the last two years alone the Army and Marines have granted an unprecedented number of "moral waivers" to recruits with previous felony convictions.


But what about the argument that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military would harm recruitment, morale and unit cohesion? Mr. Laich doesn't buy it. Existing military regulations strictly prohibiting or regulating sexual conduct would still apply, and violators would continue to be punished. NATO militaries, as well as Israel's, have integrated gay service members without issue. And similar arguments to the ones being made now against repealing DADT were made when African Americans, and later women, were integrated into the army.

"Five years from now we'll look back at this and say, what was all the fuss?" he says. "These young soldiers, sailors and Marines come from a society where gays and lesbians are readily accepted and work with them and go to school with them."

In the meantime, it's worth noting that there are an estimated 48,000 homosexuals on active duty or the reserves, many of them in critical occupations, many with distinguished service records. If they pose any risk at all to America's security, it is, paradoxically, because DADT institutionalizes dishonesty, puts them at risk of blackmail, and forces fellow warfighters who may know about their orientation to make an invidious choice between comradeship and the law. That's no way to run a military.

Posted In
Diversity & Discrimination, LGBTQ
Wall Street Journal
Bret Stephens
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