[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/OPINION/12/06/wolraich.dadt/t1larg.us.troops.stalls.kuwaid.suited.afpgi.jpg width=300 height=169]Editor's note: The opinions in this blog are solely those of Michael Wolraich, a founder of the political blog dagblog.com.
Special to CNN
"If 'don't ask, don't tell' is repealed and you are assigned to bathroom facilities (that have) an open bay shower that someone you believe to be a gay or lesbian service member also used, which are you most likely to do?" - Question on 2010 Department of Defense Comprehensive Review Survey of Uniformed Active Duty and Reserve Service Members*
It seems that ensuring shower security for American soldiers and Marines is critical to maintaining our global military pre-eminence. If our brave men and women cannot comfortably bathe in environments free from the risk of homosexual lust, how can we expect them to battle armed Taliban insurgents and other enemies?
In order to assess the gay shower hazard and other threats to military readiness if the "don't ask, don't tell" policy were repealed, the Department of Defense surveyed American troops over the summer.
Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, found the results reassuring. He told the Senate Armed Services Committee, "Repeal of the law will not prove an unacceptable risk to military readiness. ... I believe our troops and their families are ready for this," although he acknowledged, "some soldiers and Marines may want separate shower facilities."
Sen. John McCain, despite having promised in 2006 to respect the judgment of military leaders, disputed the results of the survey. He questioned whether the sample size was representative and noted that soldiers and Marines in combat units were especially concerned about the effects of repeal.
Insisting that "one of our highest responsibilities is to the men and women of our armed services," the Senate's self-declared straight-talker demurred, "it may be premature to make such a change at this time and in this manner, without further consideration of this report and further study of the issue by Congress."
While the government certainly has profound responsibilities to the men and women of our armed services, it is not clear why the precise breakdown of their opinions on "don't ask, don't tell" matters one whit when assessing whether gays and lesbians are permitted to serve with them.
When President Harry Truman ordered the armed forces to integrate in 1948, he did not first commission a survey asking white soldiers what they would do if they had to share a shower bay with a black soldier. If he had, the response in an era of segregated bathrooms would have been unenthusiastic to say the least.
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