In a historic vote a bipartisan majority voted to end a discriminatory policy that has been in place for seventeen years. By a 65-31 vote, that included eight Republican senators, Congress has delivered a final blow to this policy that was instituted in 1993 by Congress and President Clinton -- in many ways as an interim measure. In the past 17 years thousands of gay and lesbian service men and women have been forced to live secret lives as they have tried to serve their country. At the same time about 13,000 service members have been discharged from the military because their sexual identity had become known. Among that number were numerous language experts, including many of its Arabic speaking personnel.
Yes, there is a conservative backlash brewing, but this is a policy that was on last legs anyway. If Congress hadn't overturned it, the Courts were about to do so, and the Courts wouldn't have given the government as much leeway in implementing the change. So, this is actually in the better interests of an orderly transition. My hope is that the military will see this vote and suspend all pending cases against gays and lesbians, and also begin the process of preparing the troops -- most of whom I think will be quite able to adjust, even as troops had to adjust in the 1940s to integration of the military. Besides, President Obama campaigned on this issue, promising to see it overturned. That promise has been kept. Later this week, then, he will sign this bill into law as a victory for justice in this land!
Back to the reason why the conservative backlash will ultimately fall flat is that a growing majority of young adults no longer see homosexuality as a deviancy. Even a conservative Christian analysis of this trend (the Barna sponsored book UnChristian, makes the point that one of the key reasons why young adults are rejecting the church is that they see it as anti-gay. Well, if they're rejecting the church for that reason, do you think they'd want to join a military that continued to embrace an archaic viewpoint?
I think that the other reason why the protests will fall flat is that our military effectiveness won't be impaired. We'll not see troops dying or being maimed in battle, as John McCain and the Marine Commandant claim, because of this policy (this is just pure fear-mongering). If that happens it's because the military leadership has failed to properly implement a policy that works just fine in the militaries of most of our allies!