I haven't commented to this point on Don't Ask, Don't Tell, the Clinton policy toward gay soldiers instituted when President Clinton discovered that, back in 1993, full repeal of the ban on gays was fully a bridge too far. With a super-majority in the Senate (until the election of Scott Brown, which really didn't change things regarding DADT) and a large majority in the House, President Obama has been under pressure to act on this for two years. The cowardly lions in the Democratic caucus sustained huge losses in last month's election, and so now there is urgency among the rejected lame ducks to pass much of the rejected agenda that they hadn't the courage to pass earlier. DADT falls into that category.
I haven't weighed in on the policy to this point for a number of reeasons. I don't have military experience, and so my opinion on the real-world effects of repeal on the services is not as well-informed as some other commenters. I also understand that the camps are tightly drawn, and there is not much opinion to be swayed. On the other hand, when it comes to being swayed by opinions myself in this instance I'm inclined to listen to the actual military commanders who have to deal with those real-world effects among their troops.
As a result, it seems to me that the repeal of DADT that occurred in a Senate vote yesterday marks the fall of a reasonable middle. DADT enforced the principle that private behavior is private, because said private behavior cannot be allowed to alter the effectiveness of troops in the field. Was that fair to gays in the military? Not really, but the over-riding concern was and should be the functioning of units. What's the miltary really for, after all?
On the other hand, I am also sufficiently impressed with the discipline and professionalism of the American military via observation that I believe that the more open policy will eventually have no real effect. What I will be troubled by for a while is how the transition may alter that effectiveness, particularly with ongoing combat operations in Afghanistan and elsewhere. I'm also troubled by celebrations of the change by pressure groups that have less concern for military functioning than for militant demonstrations.
Let's hope I'm right, and that the American military will continue to be the most effective and honorable fighting force the world knows.