Former congressman Bob Barr (R-GA), a well-known and outspoken conservative, is, as he puts it, “hardly a card-carrying member of the gay-rights lobby.” He authored the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which declared that states did not need to recognize legal same-sex marriages from other states. In 1996, he argued that homosexual relations were “bizarre”:
“The homosexual agenda calls for taking these so-called marriage licenses to the mainland and the other 50 states, the other 49 states, and trying to force these other states, the citizens of these other states, to accept their bizarre view of marriage.” [CBS This Morning, 12/4/96]
Yet even Barr recognizes the damage the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy has had on our overstretched military. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed today, Barr declares his opposition to the policy and encourages other conservatives to call for its repeal:
As a conservative Republican member of Congress from 1995 to 2003, I was hardly a card-carrying member of the gay-rights lobby. I opposed then, and continue to oppose, same-sex marriage, or the designation of gays as a constitutionally protected minority class. Service in the armed forces is another matter. The bottom line here is that, with nearly a decade and a half of the hybrid “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy to guide us, I have become deeply impressed with the growing weight of credible military opinion which concludes that allowing gays to serve openly in the military does not pose insurmountable problems for the good order and discipline of the services. […]
Because the military can’t fill its slots, it has lowered its standards, extended tours of duty and increased rotations, further hurting morale and readiness. Conservatives are supposed to favor meritocracy — rewarding ability — especially in the armed forces. Instead, the military is firing badly needed, capable troops simply because they’re gay, and replacing them with a hodge podge that includes ex-cons, drug abusers and high-school dropouts.
“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is weakening our national security. Since the policy was instituted, at least 11,000 servicemembers, hundreds of whom had key speciality skills such as training in Arabic, have left the military. Currently in the midst of a readiness crisis, the military could attract as many as 41,000 new recruits if gays could serve openly.