Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Supporters And Opponents Seize On Pentagon Study

Yesterday’s highly anticipated release of the Pentagon study testing military views on a possible repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell served, as most expected, to bolster the case for supporters of repealing the ban on gay men and lesbians serving openly in the U.S. military. But so far, it has done little to stifle the continuing opposition to the ban from some quarters in Congress.

Even before the report came out, ban supporters like Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) dismissed it as nothing but a political exercise aimed at giving cover to President Obama and his allies in the gay and lesbian community.

So far, those on the fence about repealing DADT haven’t said whether the report has changed their mind one way or the other. But Democratic supporters of repeal — led in the Senate by Majority Leader Harry Reid — have made it clear they view the report as the beginning of the end of the argument on DADT.

“The report is just common sense,” Reid told reporters on Capitol Hill yesterday. “It’s been shown time and time again that having gays in the military does not hurt the military, it improves the military and adds to recruitment possibilities.”Republican opponents to the repeal have reacted to the report in two ways: first, it doesn’t ask the right questions, and, second, that Democratic plans to leverage the report into a vote on DADT repeal this month are moving too fast.

“I think it’s going to take a period of time,” Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI), the top Republican on the House Intelligence Commitee, said yesterday before the report came out, according to The Hill. “This is something that should move over to the next Congress.”

Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) who is among those Republicans strongly opposed to repealing the ban no matter what military leaders and the commander-in-chief says, told Politico that since the Pentagon survey didn’t ask service members if they thought the policy should be ended — only if ending it would cause problems on the frontlines — the Pentagon report is all but useless.

“The question that needs to be asked of our military is: Do you support repeal?” Graham said. “Not how do you repeal, how do you implement repeal.”

Among those legislators known to be on the fence about repeal, the new report didn’t seem to shake anyone loose. Senators pointed to this week’s scheduled DADT hearings in the Armed Services Committee, saying they’d wait till afterwards to make a decision.

One such Senator is Mark Pryor (D-AR), who said he’ll wait until the end of the hearings to decide whether the report has changed his mind or not.

“I need to read the report and I need to see how the hearings go and just get a feel for where we are,” he told the Weekly Standard. “I do think that it’s important to let the Pentagon go through their process. I don’t know if this report is the end of their process or just a step in the process, I don’t even know that.”