President Obama on Wednesday signed into law a historic bill that will reverse the ban on gay men and women serving openly in United States military forces.
The White House acknowledged the legislation as equivalent to civil-rights-era laws that expanded the rights of minorities. The signing ceremony included so many supporters of the move and legislators who approved the bill that it had to be moved to the Department of the Interior, as the White House is full of holiday decorations and tours.
What are the political implications of this move? After all, many conservatives remain adamantly opposed to allowing gay couples to marry. That’s an issue that has proved divisive in many states. Some military leaders especially the Marines, argue that allowing gay personnel to serve openly will disrupt the cohesion of front-line combat units. Former GOP presidential candidate Sen. John McCain of Arizona led Senate opposition to repeal.
The short answer is that military service is different than marriage. For years, large majorities of the American people have told pollsters that they would approve of getting rid of “don’t ask” and allowing gays to serve in uniform.
A recent ABC/Washington Post survey, for instance, found that 77 percent of respondents were in favor of repeal.