It appears that Our President has concluded that the gay vote still matters — hence, the State of the Union promise to repeal "Don't ask, don't tell." Admiral Mike Mullen, reflexively loyal to the Commander in Chief, supports the President, albeit on a personal rather than an institutional basis. Defense Secretary Gates, another good soldier, does his best to sound loyal while saying little or nothing.
As for me, I think it would be a great advance for the women in the military to get some idea of which of their fellow warriors are willing to admit they're gay — that is to say, which guys are far less likely to rape them. Mind you, quite a few of the gay guys in the military still won't be coming out — hell, they don't want to be raped either.
Institutions designed to train young people to kill, but nevertheless must maintain a facade of high moral standards, have a lot of trouble dealing with sex. There is, you see, that nasty propensity of a substantial number of the prime candidates for such institutions to conflate sex with violence. To control the violence, many believe, the institution must control the sex as well — meaning that the sex, like the violence, must be standardized. The real obstacle to having openly gay men in the military is, more than anything else, administrative. Controlling the gay sex as well as the straight sex would be just too hard for the officer corps.
(Disclaimer, of sorts: thirty years in public education have predisposed me to believe that incompetent administration is at the root of most institutional problems. On the other hand, Philip Zimbardo's exhaustive analysis of systemic failures leading to the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib provides substantial evidence that, in the military as well as in the public schools, the shit floats to the top.)
Gays, of course, have been in the military all along. If a fellow is looking for a place where it's raining men (hallelujah), and he doesn't have the skills for professional athletics, there are few better choices. "Don't ask, don't tell" has been military policy since the demise of ancient Sparta, where homosexuality was pretty much compulsory. When Congress codified that policy during the Clinton administration, it actually made things worse for gays in the military. Once "Don't ask, don't tell" was part of the law, anybody who was outed was automatically out.
In the unlikely event that Obama actually manages to get a repeal of "Don't ask, don't tell" through Congress, what dire consequences might occur? Will evangelical Christian boys stop joining the military out of fear, leaving our national defense sorely understaffed? Will the straight and gay members of Marine patrols in Iraq and Afghanistan tolerate each other's tastes in rape victims? Will the next set of photos out of Abu Ghraib or the prison at Bagram be even more homoerotic?
Don't ask. Don't tell.