The Pentagon released part of its study on the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy regarding gays in the military. Findings show 70 percent of troops participating in the survey said permitting gay and lesbian servicemen and women to serve openly would have positive, mixed or nonexistent effects on the military.
The survey comes after much opposition to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," from Republicans in Congress as well as top brass in all branches of military service. The Obama administration has promised a repeal of the 1993 ban on gays in the military.
The entire report will be made public Dec. 1. A significant minority, including 40 percent of the Marine Corps, opposes the repeal.
President Obama favors Congress changing the law. U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips of California was prepared to throw out the law as unconstitutional in October, however the Justice Department filed papers asking her to delay ruling on the case until after the military survey was made available to Congress.
Obama told Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid he wants the repeal passed during the Congressional lame-duck session in December. Democrats are unsure they will have the votes to pass the measure.
One of the staunchest opponents to repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," is Republican Arizona Sen. John McCain. The House already passed the measure, but in September the Senate failed to follow through thanks to McCain and a handful of dissenting Democrats.
Gay rights advocates hope the military survey will change the minds of Senators but McCain has promised a tough fight. McCain is already in talks with the Senate Armed Services Committee Chair Carl Levin, a Democrat from Michigan, to take the measure out of the defense reauthorization bill that funds the Department of Defense.
McCain voted against repealing the law because he wanted to wait and see the results of the military survey. Critics of McCain are doubtful this new information will change his mind. If the lame-duck Congress is to do anything before Republicans take control of the House in January this may be the best time to repeal the ban.
Ironically, McCain's wife, Cindy speaks out in a public service announcement in favor of allowing military recruits to be openly gay. Equally, McCain's daughter, Meghan is openly gay and has continuously stood up in favor of gay rights alongside her mother.
If Congress fails to repeal the law, there are several avenues open to the Obama administration as a viable alternative to getting the job done.
The Pentagon promised to follow the law should the Federal court overturn the ban. Judge Phillips would merely need to announce her ruling, stating the law in unconstitutional.
Another way to get around the law would be for Obama to order the military to allow openly gay service members to be admitted. As Commander-in-Chief he would have the authority to do so but Congress would have to appropriate additional funding to take on more recruits.
If Congress fails to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," there may be a three-way tug-of-war between the separation of powers--the President, Congress and the Judicial Branch.
It is unfortunate it may come to that. However the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s operated in much the same way. The military became racially integrated during World War II and then courts ordered the integration of schools and desegregation of communities. Congress finally passed the Civil Rights Act in 1964.
Ideally America has learned its lesson from history and the guarantee of equal rights for all Americans to pursue life, liberty and happiness will be ensured.