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Skelton's risk with DADT

It’s no surprise that the comments last week by the Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Ike Skelton (D-Mo.), were not helpful. ("I am personally not for changing the [DADT] law.”) He made his views crystal clear, and his timing in conveying those views was impeccable. But the chairman now runs the risk of being at odds with the majority of his caucus, including President Obama, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and 186 Democratic members of the House of Representatives, all of whom support repeal of the law. The congressman just firmly planted himself with the 25 percent of Americans who think the law should remain on the books.

Rep. Skelton’s remarks also underscore something we don’t talk enough about: the palpable generational divide around “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Seventy-eight percent of 18-29 year olds favor gays serving openly, according to a 2009 Gallup poll. Among military people, the younger generation — those fighting America’s 21st century wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — largely don’t care about sexual orientation. It is this age group, those in their 20s and 30s, that makes up the vast majority of the military. We would hope Skelton and his generation would consider this reality.