After President Obama declared in his State of the Union address last week that he would “work with Congress and our military to finally repeal” the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy “this year,” conservatives predictably balked at the idea. “With all due respect to his sincerely held if abstractly formed views on this subject, it would be reckless to require the military to carry out a major sociological change, one contrary to the preferences of a large majority of its members, as it fights two wars,” wrote the Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol.
With the push for overturning DADT gaining momentum and the support of Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Michael Mullen, conservative fearmongering about the potential effects of repeal have gone into overdrive with suggestions that the policy change would “mortally” damage the all-volunteer military. During a hearing with Mullen and Defense Secretary Robert Gates today, Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) warned that allowing “the presence in the armed forces of persons who demonstrate a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts” would pave the way for allowing “alcohol use, adultery, fraternization, and body art” in the military. On CNN today, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins suggested it could lead to the re-institution of the draft:
PERKINS: Let’s go back to the Military Times in 2008 had a poll of active duty military members. Fifty-eight percent said they were opposed to overturning this policy. And many have said that this will cause them to reconsider whether or not they will stay in the military. And it will have an impact upon recruiting. I mean this is an issue of retention and recruitment for the military and it ultimately could lead back to the imposition of a draft in order to fill the numbers and quotas in the military.
Perkins’ draft claim was echoed in a statement today by Rabbi Yehuda Levin of the Rabbinical Alliance of America, who also suggested that repealing DADT could cause earthquakes and other natural disasters. Watch it:
Dr. Nathaniel Frank responded to Perkins’ “fear tactics” about military retention — a claim that relies on a “unscientific, self-selective” survey by Military Times of its subscribers, not a random sample of active duty soldiers — by pointing out that “polls show in Canada and Britain that when they asked service members if they would, if they wanted to serve with gays, two-thirds of them refused. Absolutely refused. But when they actually lifted the bans anyway, about 2 people, 2 people, not the thousands predicted by the polls actually left.”
Nearly 14,000 gay and lesbian service men and women have been discharged from military service since 1993. Additionally, a 2007 study by the Williams Institute found that DADT hurts retention as “an estimated 4,000 lesbian, gay, and bisexual military personnel” per year since 1994 “would have been retained if they could have been more open about their sexual orientation.”