In a letter released today by the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) expressed his support for the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that bans lesbian, gays, and bisexuals from serving openly in the military. McCain said he staunchly opposes openly gay servicemembers, asserting that “open sexuality within military presents an intolerable risk to morale, cohesion and discipline” and national security:
I believe polarization of the personnel and breakdown of unit effectiveness is too high a price to pay for well intentioned but misguided efforts to elevate the interests of a minority of homosexual servicemembers above those of their units.
Most importantly, the national security of the United States, not to mention the lives of our men and women in uniform, are put at grave risk by policies detrimental to the good order and and discipline which so distinguish America’s Armed Services. … I remain opposed to the open expression of homosexuality in the military.
McCain’s personal beliefs are antiquated and ill-informed. The overwhelming majority of the military supports equal rights for all servicemembers. Last December, a poll of servicemembers in Iraq and Afghanistan found that 73 percent were “comfortable with lesbians and gays.” A 2004 poll found that a majority of junior enlisted servicemembers believed gays and lesbians should be allowed to serve openly in the military, up from 16 percent in 1992. Furthemore, 55 percent of Americans believe “gays and lesbians should be allowed to serve openly in the military.”
McCain claims that permitting gays to serve is detrimental to national security, but since Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was instituted, at least 11,000 servicemembers, hundreds of whom had with key speciality skills such as training in Arabic, have left the military. While McCain vigorously backs the plan to send thousands of troops to Iraq, he should note that the military could attract as many as 41,000 new recruits if gays could serve openly.
Read McCain’s letter HERE.