Ahead of President Obama’s signing of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal today, Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX) — who sits on the House Armed Services Committee — predicted that ending the military’s discriminatory policy would lead to a segregation of gay and straight troops. “You’re going to accommodate folks’ preferences as to whether or not they want to be in the same sleeping arrangements or bathroom facilities, all those kinds of things,” Conaway told the Wichita Falls Times Recorder Monday:
Conaway said he thinks the military will have to provide heterosexual troops with separate arrangements if they don’t want to bunk with gays or lesbians, as well as do the same for gays and lesbians who don’t want to share living quarters with heterosexuals.
“Apparently their housing arrangements are not set up in that direction,” Conaway said. “And if you have to segment them further from what they are just between men and women, then you’re going to have to provide additional facilities that weren’t provided before.”
The housing expenditures will be coming at a time when lawmakers should be cutting spending across the federal government, he said.
“And this is in my view an unnecessary or unneeded change,” Conaway said.
If Conaway had bothered to read the Pentagon’s comprehensive report on repealing the policy released last month, he would have seen that on page 13, it clearly states, “we recommend that the Department of Defense expressly prohibit berthing or billeting assignments or the designation of bathroom facilities based on sexual orientation.” It noted that a “separate but equal” approach would stigmatize gays, much the way racial segregation did for African-Americans before they were fully integrated into the armed forces. Of course, the study also showed that the vast majority of servicemembers have no problem serving alongside openly gay fellow soldiers, suggesting that the wave of self-segregation Conaway predicts is merely a project of his personal fears.
Indeed, Clarke Cooper, the executive director of the conservative pro-gay group Log Cabin Republicans and himself an Iraq War veteran, called Conaway’s prediction “nonsensical,” and said his comments are “narrow and fallacious.” “He is under the assumption that they will accommodate people’s preferences — No, it’s the military. There are no preferences so to speak,” Cooper told the Texas Independent. “You are going to get assigned your lodging based on unit structure not based on personal preferences.” Noting that Conaway served in the Army and now sits on the House committee that deals with the military, Cooper added, “Some of the politicians that oppose DADT have never really interacted with the military or have never visited. But Conaway knows better and that’s why I am truly disappointed.”