On Friday, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) discussed the effectiveness of the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) policy, regurgitating the familiar unsubstantiated talking points about how a repeal could undermine troop morale and military effectiveness. McCain dismissed the frequent discharges of essential military personnel and said that Congress was only considering repealing the policy “because of no other reason than President Obama’s campaign promise.” “The military is at its highest level of effectiveness, morale, equipment, training, professionalism, and why we would want to disrupt that when we’re in the middle of two wars is something that I find very, very wrong,” McCain said.
Perkins agreed and suggested that allowing gays to serve openly would transform the institution into one that organizes parades:
TONY PERKINS: Absolutely, without question — I know a lot of people point to militaries that have allowed homosexuality within the ranks — there’s twenty-five of almost two hundred nations but the top militaries in the world do not allow homosexuality to be openly engaged in, in the military — I mean, if you want a military that just does parades and stuff like that then I guess that’s okay.
In reality, three of the United States’ closest allies — Israel, Canada, and the United Kingdom — “have successfully removed all restrictions on gays and lesbians in their armed forces since the early 1990s.” “All three countries made quick, successful transitions to policies of open service” without additional parades.
McCain responded to Perkins by stressing the inclusiveness of DADT. “We don’t, we do not tell someone who is homosexual that they can’t join the military — we don’t tell them that…So it’s not discriminatory and no one forces anyone to join the military and if they wanna have a sexual orientation we don’t keep them from having that orientation,” he said. The Senator also suggested that Congressional proponents of repeal have not served in the military, despite the fact that Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-PA) — the lead sponsor of repeal in the House — is an Iraqi war veteran.
Approximately 14,000 servicemembers have been discharged under the 17-year old policy and the government has spent hundreds of millions of dollars replacing discharged members. It’s estimated that there are at least 65,000 gay and lesbian servicemembers on active military duty today and another 1 million gay and lesbian veterans.