Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Change of Heart about Gays in Uniform

The next big debate related to gay rights might just be allowing gays in the military. Retired general John Shalikashvili, who, as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff when the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy was established in 1993, was influential in developing it, writes in the Op-Ed section of today's New York Times that he no longer supports the policy. Shalikashvili argues that the military has changed such that "gays and lesbians can be accepted by their peers." A recent Zogby poll supports the retired general's claim.

But the real issue is that our military needs more soldiers, and queer soldiers are better than no soldiers. "Our military has been stretched thin by our deployments in the Middle East," Shalikashvili writes bluntly, "We must welcome the service of any American who is willing and able to do the job."

The military has already lowered many of its other standards, so don't be too flattered. The most interesting thing to come from a possible policy shift will be that legislators will have to debate gay issues again, this time with pressure on them to include gays in our national cultural institutions.

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