Truth be told, the DADT policy has been twisting in the wind for at least a year, as the Pentagon added multiple levels of review for each proposed discharge, and then the order of the District Court in Log Cabin Republicans v. Panetta mandated no initiation of new cases. Still, today is THE day, the moment when the brass hats have finally acceded to the change that everyone knew was coming, but that none of them wanted to happen "on my watch."
And it is truly stunning – the U. S. military is now training its troops on their duty to accept and work with the gay men and lesbians in their units.
It is also true, however, that a number of problematic issues remain. Big ones include:
- There has been no progress on the acceptance of transgender service members, regardless of their abilities.
- Members who were discharged during the reign of DADT may have claims for lost pay or benefits.
- Article 125 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice – the sodomy law – remains in effect, although prosecutions are not brought in the absence of aggravating factors such as relations between a superior and a subordinate or in a public place.
- There may be some family benefits for service members that do not depend on marriage and which are extendable to partners and/or the children of partners. If Section 3 of DoMA is invalidated, the military will have to recognize same-sex marriages.
The biggest question mark, in my view, is how any incidents of harassment will be handled. Harassment of women (especially lesbians) has been at epidemic levels within the military for years. Occasionally, a particularly flagrant example makes its way into the press, but most are ignored and many are apparently considered business as usual.
The world will be watching for whether gay and lesbian service members become targets for physical or verbal assault. Military leaders should take this opportunity to crack down on the misogyny that fuels all forms of harassment.