As arguments against repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell collapse one by one, conservatives have been forced to resort to baseless talking points, “changing standards,” condescension towards military leaders, and in the case of Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), blatant distortions, to maintain their stubborn opposition to repeal. Appearing on CNN’s John King USA last night with Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN), DeMint argued that the military’s discriminatory policy should not be changed because the “military is telling us now that’s not a good idea”:
DEMINT: The studies that I’ve seen, the generals who are free to express their opinions are saying this would be bad for morale, it would be an adjustment that’s not necessary — let’s allow people to serve, unless they want to make an issue of their sexuality. The military is telling us now that’s not a good idea. So this is not a good time to make a change like this. … This has noting to do with the security of our country. So we just need to take that off the table.
KING: Are you in the same place congressman?
PENCE: Well, I really am.
Of course, DeMint could not be more wrong. The military’s two top leaders, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joints Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen, came out strongly in support of repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell way back in February and today, at a hearing on the policy before the Senate Armed Services Committee, all six of the military’s Service Chiefs said they could effectively implement a policy change. In fact, as the Washington Post reported today, “The Pentagon is increasingly worried that Congress will not act to repeal” the policy by the end of the year, and that the courts will order the change instead, making a smooth transition more difficult to achieve.
As for “studies,” which DeMint claims show that repeal is a bad idea, he need only look at the military’s comprehensive review released earlier this week, which found that 70% of servicemembers said they would be able to “work together to get the job done” with a gay servicemember in their immediate units. Indeed, “research has uniformly shown that transitions to policies of equal treatment without regard to sexual orientation have been highly successful and have had no negative impact on morale, recruitment, retention, readiness or overall combat effectiveness,” a Palm Center study noted. As Gates said Tuesday, “Now that we have completed this review, I strongly urge the Senate to pass this legislation and send it to the president for signature before the end of this year.”
DeMint’s fellow Senate Republican Scott Brown (MA) was willing to accept the military advice, saying this afternoon, “Having reviewed the Pentagon report, having spoken to active and retired military service members, and having discussed the matter privately with Defense Secretary Gates and others, I accept the findings of the report and support repeal.”