The debate over the US military’s controversial “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy has reached new heights in recent weeks, with US District Judge Virginia Phillips issuing an October 12 injunction suspending the policy, the US Justice Department appealing Phillips’s ruling two days later, and the US Supreme Court ruling on November 12 that the Pentagon may continue enforcing the policy during the appeal process.
In Congress, efforts to end the policy have stalled in the Senate, but in the House, a repeal bill passed today by a vote of 250-175. Opponents of DADT are optimistic that another vote in the Senate will yield better results, and pundits predict that there are now 59 “yea” votes for repeal, one shy of the necessary 60 to overcome a Republican filibuster.
While the quick turn of events may have caused confusion in the military as a whole, with openly gay recruits briefly accepted between October 15 and the reinstatement of “don’t ask, don’t tell” enforcement on October 20, college ROTC programs have yet to see an impact, according to LTC Michael Boden, Professor of Military Science at Hofstra.
“I think part of the reason may be just the quick nature of the announcement on the 15th and then a couple of days it was put back on hold. It really didn’t have any effect on us,” Boden said. He noted that while he can only speak for his program, which coordinates ROTC at Long Island universities, this appears to be typical for most programs.
Although ROTC has not been impacted by the recent court proceedings regarding the policy, Boden believes that a permanent change in the policy would inevitably affect ROTC programs. “What that effect is, I think it’s way too soon to tell. I think that will depend on what if any decision is made, but I do think there will be an effect,” he stated. “We will definitely have some new parameters by which we do our business, and I think that will be something we have to look at when it happens.”
As for the debate over whether the decision to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” should be left to Congress or the courts, Boden could not say. “That’s not really my call to make. As long as we’re in uniform, we support US Civil Code number 10, article 54, and whenever that’s changed, whether that’s through Congress or the judiciary, whatever means, we will adhere to US law,” he stated.
Democrats are hoping to push ahead with the repeal of DADT in the current lame-duck session of Congress, and vote in the Senate could come as soon as the end of this week.
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