'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Repeal: Will There Be Political Fallout?

Article excerpt

Obama on Wednesday signed the repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell' for gays in the military. On Capitol Hill, Republicans are grumbling about all the unanticipated activity of the lame-duck Congress.

President Obama on Wednesday signed into law a historic bill that will reverse the ban on gay men and women serving openly in United States military forces.

The White House described the legislation as equivalent to civil- rights-era laws that expanded the rights of minorities. The signing ceremony included so many supporters of the move and legislators who approved the bill that it had to be moved to the Department of the Interior, as the White House is full of holiday decorations and tours.

"I couldn't be prouder," said Mr. Obama of the repeal of the current "don't ask don't tell" policy. The repeal law, he said, "will strengthen our national security and uphold the ideals that our fighting men and women risk their lives to defend."

What are the political implications of this move? After all, many conservatives remain adamantly opposed to allowing gay couples to marry. That's an issue that has proved divisive in many states. Some military leaders - notably those in the Marine Corps - say that allowing gay personnel to serve openly will disrupt the cohesion of front-line combat units. Former GOP presidential candidate Sen. John McCain of Arizona led Senate opposition to repeal.

The short answer is that military service is different than marriage. For years, large majorities of the American people have told pollsters that they would approve of getting rid of "don't ask" and allowing gays to serve in uniform.

A recent ABC/Washington Post survey, for instance, found that 77 percent of respondents were in favor of repeal.

In addition, the manner in which the repeal was carried out might mute any political opposition. …

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