STATE OF THE UNION
Did you watch? If not, you can now. Everyone will see it through his own eyes. To mine, it was filled with grace, good will, intelligence, quiet determination, and hope for the future.
WHAT SHOULD BE DONE TO FIX OUR FINANCIAL SYSTEM
One of the areas the President addressed was the need to reform our financial system. He might not agree with everything in this analysis from John Hussman, but most of it is spot on.
THE REPUBLICAN RESPONSE
“All Americans – unless they are gay – should have the opportunity to find and keep meaningful work, and the dignity that comes with it,” intoned the newly elected Governor of Virginia, offering the official Republican response. Well, okay, he did not literally add “unless they are gay,” but Republicans vote overwhelmingly against extending employment nondiscrimination laws to cover LGBT Americans, which amounts to much the same thing; and John McCain issued an immediate statement disagreeing with the President’s call for lifting the ban on our “finding and keeping meaningful work, and the dignity that comes with it,” in the military.
Speaking of which . . .
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs when “don’t ask/don’t tell” was enacted, he yesterday issued this statement:
Thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts about the Policy Concerning Homosexuality in the Armed Forces. When I was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, my support of the current policy was based on my belief that implementing a change in the rules would have been too burdensome for our troops and commanders at the time.
The concern among many at that time, was that letting people who were openly gay serve would lower morale, harm recruitment and undermine unit cohesion. “Don’t ask, don’t tell” was seen as a useful measure that allowed time to pass while our culture continued to evolve. The question before us now is whether enough time has gone by to give this policy serious reconsideration. I believe that it has.
Recently, Army Secretary John McHugh said that “The Army has a big history of taking on similar issues [with]…predictions of doom and gloom that did not play out.” His conclusion echoes substantial scholarly and official military research which finds that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly would not jeopardize readiness.
Studies have shown that three-quarters of service members say they are personally comfortable around gays and lesbians. Two-thirds say they already know or suspect gay people in their units. This raises important questions about the assertion that openly gay service would impair the military. In fact, it shows that gays and lesbians in the military have already been accepted by the average soldier.
Additionally, at least twenty-five foreign militaries now let gays serve openly, including our closest ally, Britain. Although we lead rather than follow these militaries, there is no evidence suggesting that our troops cannot effectively carry out the same policy change as those nations did.
In 2008, a bi-partisan panel of retired General and Flag officers carefully reviewed this matter for a year and concluded that repeal would not pose a risk to the military’s high standards of morale, discipline, cohesion, recruitment, or retention. Interestingly, an increasing number of active-duty officers who have reviewed “don’t ask, don’t tell” indicate that the policy, not the presence of gays, is detrimental to the armed forces’ need for skilled personnel who are able to serve without compromising their integrity and, by extension, that of the armed forces as a whole.
As a nation built on the principal of equality, we should recognize and welcome change that will build a stronger more cohesive military. It is time to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell” and allow our military leaders to create policy that holds our service members to a single standard of conduct and discipline.
☞ The gay thing was only half a minute in a 71-minute speech, which was a reasonable ratio when you consider the enormity of the other challenges we face. Do try to find time to watch the speech if you haven’t already.
Quote of the Day
It turns out that advancing equal opportunity and economic empowerment is both morally right and good economics, because discrimination, poverty and ignorance restrict growth, while investments in education, infrastructure and scientific and technological research increase it, creating more good jobs and new wealth for all of us.~Bill Clinton
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