In recent weeks, the debate over the infamous "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" military policy regarding LGBT soldiers has grown significantly. Major heads of the armed forces have spoken out against the policy, calling for its repeal. Political leaders have agreed with the sentiment, and most have pledged to seek its destruction. And on September 9th, a federal district judge, Virginia Phillips, declared the policy unconstitutional and effectively ended its 17-year reign.
The declaration seemed a crowning achievement for LGBT rights and was hailed by many as the ruling most needed to bring equality to the military. Judge Phillips decried the policy, most notably disparaging the military's practice of discharging outed service members only after their return from combat conditions, saying "...the effect of the Act has been, not to advance the Government's interests of military readiness and unit cohesion, much less to do so significantly, but to harm that interest."
After the ruling, preparation and announcement of the military's intention to accept openly gay and lesbian applicants at recruiting stations came swiftly. The debate continued to rage in the popular media, but it was mostly embodied by a fringe minority that seemed uninterested in the protection of equal rights. Most agreed with the ruling, and polls showed a majority supported Judge Phillips' decision, with over 60% of Americans agreeing with the injunction. "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," it seemed, was finally over.
Curiously, however, the policy continued to show its reluctance to die, and an injunction was quickly placed against Judge Phillips' ruling by the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals, pending action by the military. And suddenly and unexpectedly, several politicians, most notably Senator John McCain, started back-pedaling on their stance and began requesting more inquiry into the possible deleterious effects of the repeal. They expressed concern over what might transpire regarding military readiness and cohesion should the policy be immediately lifted without a quality transition plan, backed by academic research and a proven path of action.