President-elect Barack Obama will allow gays to serve openly in the military by overturning the controversial "don't ask, don't tell" policy that marred President Clinton's first days in office, according to incoming White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.
The startling pronouncement, which could re-open a dormant battle in the culture wars and distract from other elements of Obama's agenda, came during a Gibbs exchange with members of the public who sent in questions that were answered on YouTube.
"Thadeus of Lansing, Mich., asks, 'Is the new administration going to get rid of the "don't ask, don't tell policy?'" said Gibbs, looking into the camera. "Thadeus, you don't hear a politician give a one-word answer much. But it's, 'Yes.'"
Relatively unsurprising. Most servicemen that I've spoken with assumed that the policy was one Democratic administration away from being abolished. And with a gay man leading the pack for the Secretary of the Navy position, there was little doubt as to the direction that new administration was pointing the US Armed Forces.
I've heard mixed reactions to Mr. Obama's plan. Junior officers and NCOs -products of a generation where homosexuality was largely tolerated- are mostly apathetic. With their older counterparts, the opposite. All seem to frown on the annoying liberal habit of using the military as a social petri dish, claiming -correctly- that the Pentagon has more important battles to fight.
A side note: Don't Ask, Don't Tell affects different military units in different ways. A nuclear missileer for example, who spends days locked in a small alert facility 100ft underground with another officer, might have stronger objections to gays openly serving than, say, an Army clerk. The same goes for service members who serve in tanks, submarines, the infantry, etc. Tampering with the military can be a dangerous game. So if the policy is to be repealed, Mr. Obama would be wise to consider an evolutionary -not revolutionary- approach.