Around this time last year, the Senate was setting in to tackle various pieces legislation it put off over the course of the year and capitalize on the remaining time before the House majority switched parties in January. Repealing "don't ask, don't tell"—the '90s-era provision that allowed LGBT soldiers to serve in the military so long as they did not reveal their sexual identity—was near the top of the list for Democrats. Rather than immediately repealing the measure after the 2008 election on the grounds that the rule clearly violated civil liberties, Democrats did their best to appease the regulation's proponents and commissioned an impact study, which concluded that there would be no negative impact on military readiness or morale if the law were overturned. With the public backing repeal 77 to 21 percent, it easily sailed through the House, and after some wrangling was passed by the Senate; eight Republicans even joined the Democratic majority to overturn the law.
"They will do what is asked of them, but don't think that it won't be at great cost," Sen. John McCain said at the time, referring to the members of the military who would "suffer." McCain then invoked the image of a solider losing limbs.
In the months since the repeal was officially instituted, there's been no evidence for any cost to military readiness. Even Gen. James F. Amos, the nation's top Marine officer, who favored DADT at this time last year, he has completely changed his tune. "I'm very pleased with how it has gone," he told the AP, noting that there had been no trouble implementing the repeal.
Since Vox Pox is devoted to next year's election, you may wonder how the Republican presidential candidates have responded to the successful transition to a 21st century military. Unfortunately, they've followed McCain's lagging lead. It's become common consensus among the candidates that Obama overreached to satisfy "his political base," as Rick Perry said. During the debates, the candidates have agreed that the policy needs to return. "What we are doing is playing social experimentation with our military right now," Rick Santorum said at one debate. "That’s tragic. I would just say that going forward we would reinstitute that policy if Rick Santorum was president." Mitt Romney has been pro-DADT since his last presidential run. Newt Gingrich—the latest conservative challenger—has also made clear his opposition to LGBT inclusion. " “You can certainly reverse the president’s position on social engineering in the military,” Gingrich said in Iowa this fall, "…this is an administration of extraordinary anti-military prejudice, that just hides it, okay? I mean, this president is not a commander in chief in any normal sense, he is a politician in chief."