...the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff says they are. In an op/ed in the New York Times, retired general John Shalikashvili, who served as chairman between 1993-1997, writes:
Last year I held a number of meetings with gay soldiers and marines, including some with combat experience in Iraq, and an openly gay senior sailor who was serving effectively as a member of a nuclear submarine crew. These conversations showed me just how much the military has changed, and that gays and lesbians can be accepted by their peers.
This perception is supported by a new Zogby poll of more than 500 service members returning from Afghanistan and Iraq, three quarters of whom said they were comfortable interacting with gay people. And 24 foreign nations, including Israel, Britain and other allies in the fight against terrorism, let gays serve openly, with none reporting morale or recruitment problems.
I now believe that if gay men and lesbians served openly in the United States military, they would not undermine the efficacy of the armed forces. Our military has been stretched thin by our deployments in the Middle East, and we must welcome the service of any American who is willing and able to do the job.
Shalikashvili argues that there are more urgent problems that need to be addressed first, so he wants to take a "measured" approach to welcoming gays into the military. Discrimination against gays in the military is just wrong. However, if policymakers do insist on taking a "measured" approach, then military commanders should at least stop drumming gays who are currently serving out.