One of the reasons Defense Secretary Robert Gates commissioned a study on how the military feels about gays serving openly in the military was because it was ridiculous to listen to politicians rambling on and on, and not listen to those who have to do the heavy lifting.
And when the results were released showing more than two-thirds believed that the work wouldn’t be harmed by changing the 17-year-old law, it was clear evidence to many that the law needed to be overturned.
But when massive flip-floppers like Republican Sen. John McCain ignores the advice of the defense secretary and the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — and continues to come up with more reasons why the rule needs to be kept in place — it’s no surprise that the measure failed to get enough votes this week to get beyond a GOP filibuster.
It was largely Republicans who blocked the measure from being repealed in the 57-40. The only Democrat to go along with them was Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia.
Supporters of the repeal say they have the votes to overturn the law, but who knows if moderate Republicans will come up with more reasons why they can’t support the legislation. But it’s absolutely clear that it’s now time for this law to be revoked.
In an interview on my TV One Cable Network’s Sunday morning news show, “Washington Watch,” I talked with the top enlisted officer serving in Afghanistan, Command Sgt. Maj. Marvin Hill. He made it clear that soldiers serving in the battlefield can be led to implement the changes if Congress will act.
“I’m thinking that the troops are ready for something like this,” the Memphis, Tenn., native said. “They are well led. We know that if there is a change, that change will have to be led, and it’s going to have to be led by senior leaders such as myself — and others across the battlefield.
“Senior leaders are the ones [that are] going to set the tone in the unit and enable the unit to move forward.”
When Sen. McCain was behaving like a reasonable politician whose word could be trusted, he said that if the top brass in the military supported repealing DADT, the former POW would follow their lead.
That was when more folks were against the measure. Now that the winds have shifted, so has McCain, who has promised to filibuster any effort to change the law.
As for members of the military who are as dead set against repealing the law as McCain, Command Sgt. Maj. Hill says it might be time for them to find another line of work.
“If there are people who cannot deal with the change, then they’re going to have to do what’s best for their troops and best for the organization and best for the military service and exit the military service, so that we can move forward — if that’s the way that we have to go,” said Hill, now serving in Afghanistan after three tours of duty in Iraq.
See, that’s what we call leadership. No flip-flops. No double talk, just straight talk. You know, the stuff Sen. McCain used to be known for.
When we have members of our military shedding the same blood on the battlefield, nonsensical that we would be discharging able-bodied men and women willing to serve their country because of their sexual orientation. I’ll bet $1,000 that if someone was on the front lines and mired in a fierce firefight, they wouldn’t give a flip if the person coming to their aid were homosexual. All that matters is that a fellow soldier wasn’t leaving his or her comrade on the battlefield to fend for himself or herself.
Our soldiers are showing tremendous courage on the battlefield fighting terrorists. It would be nice if our political leaders in Washington, D.C., had an ounce of their courage and commitment to get rid of a law that serves no usefulness in the 21st century.
Roland S. Martin is an award-winning CNN analyst and the author of the book “The First: President Barack Obama’s Road to the White House as originally reported by Roland S. Martin.” Please visit his website at www.RolandSMartin.com. To find out more about Roland S. Martin and read his past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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