In a January 2 editorial, The Washington Times again baselessly fearmongered over the repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," claiming that "[h]aving openly homosexual troops will be devastating to morale in the armed forces, and in practice the new policy's implementation will lead to the establishment of a privileged homosexual protected class with ramifications that will reach beyond military service."
From the Times editorial:
The politically wounded president enjoyed two last-minute victories when the lame-duck Congress flew to his rescue by ratifying the New START nuclear-arms treaty and repealing the ban on homosexuals serving openly in the military. These were only victories for Mr. Obama on the domestic political scene. The START agreement will weaken the U.S. nuclear deterrent and hamper future missile-defense deployments. Having openly homosexual troops will be devastating to morale in the armed forces, and in practice the new policy's implementation will lead to the establishment of a privileged homosexual protected class with ramifications that will reach beyond military service.
Following the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell, Equality Matters finds that most countries to legalize same-sex marriage first allowed gays soldiers to serve openly. Of the nine countries that allow same-sex marriage and have a standing military, eight of them first allowed gays and lesbians to serve openly in their militaries.
In light of legislation repealing the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, Equality Matters reviews achievements in civil rights laws that were accomplished during the 19 years between racial integration of the military and the Supreme Court decision striking down laws prohibiting interracial marriage. Amid these groundbreaking legal changes, Martin Luther King warned that that there were still challenges to overcome in the fight for equal rights.
Townhall columnist Star Parker has an impressively unhinged reaction to the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell:
Homosexual behavior is unacceptable by these moral standards.
President Obama said that repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell "will strengthen our national security."
I cannot think of anything more dangerous to our national security and the ongoing strength of our nation than the collapse of our sense that there are objective rights and wrongs.
Really? The single greatest threat to national security and the strength of the nation is the existence of some openly gay Marines? That's the best news I've heard all day.
Among the most controversial reactions to the landmark repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell was a recent column at WorldNetDaily by Joseph Farah, in which he essentially urged soldiers and those interested in becoming soldiers not to serve in the U.S. Military.
"As much as I respect and admire the U.S. military as an institution, I would find myself actively encouraging men and women to leave - in droves," Farah, who oversees the well-read site, wrote in the column posted December 17 before the repeal occurred.
"If the U.S. military is going to be transformed into just another tool of twisted social engineering, rather than a force designed to defend America's national security interests, dedicated, brave and upstanding young men and women should no longer participate of their own free will," Farah added. "It's just that simple. Let the politicians cobble together a military of social deviants if they think they can."
The column drew several critical responses from those in the news business and those who follow military and gay rights issues, ranging from one who called it "irresponsible" to another describing it as "disgusting bigotry."
Mike Triplett, vice president of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association and top blogger on the group's website, blasted Farah's column.
"It is clearly, incredibly irresponsible. This is a good example of the kind of irresponsible commentary that goes on so often in the conservative press," he said. "It is unfortunate that there is so much irrational vindictive inside the conservative press and that it gets linked to by conservative bloggers and legitimate press. That is of greater concern, they are linked by more legitimate people."
Ashwin Madia, an Iraq War veteran and interim chairman of VoteVets.org, stated in an e-mail response to the column:
"It's disappointing to hear someone demand that brave American men and women stop serving their country because of his blind hatred for a particular group of people. Fortunately, those who have served in today's military - including leadership from every branch - are rightfully confident that every survey of service members is correct and this repeal will have little effect on recruitment, retention, and readiness."
He also added, "...the disgusting bigotry of Mr. Farah makes very clear who has rightfully earned the title of 'social deviant.'"
Col. Dave Lapan, a U.S. Department of Defense public affairs officer, dismissed Farah's column.
"We see editorials and opinions all the time and people are free to have opinions," Lapan said. "I would suspect that most people in the military are serving for other reasons and wouldn't listen to that type of admonition for people.
"The military is, if nothing else, a meritocracy, people advance because they are good at what they do, regardless of where they grew up or what gender they are or what racial group they grew up with."
Lapan added: "Historically, when other militaries have made this change, those who reported that the change would cause them to either leave the service or not join the service severely overestimated what actually happened in practice. Very small numbers actually followed through on that."
Jarrod Chlapowski, field and development director of Service Members United -- the largest gay and lesbian troop organization - said predictions of military problems are unfounded.
"They made much more dire predictions about white soldiers leaving the military during the integration of African-Americans in the military and it did not occur," said Chlapowski, an Army veteran who served from 2000 to 2005.
He said reactions like Farah's are not a surprise, but hardly the majority viewpoint: "We won our biggest gay rights victory yet and this is what you will see. Yes, the media should not be advocating something that is clearly wrong and incorrect, but it is an opinion column and he is entitled to it. The implementation of the repeal will be the best education in that regard, it will demonstrate that it is not an issue. We are at a point where we are not arguing for repeal, it is actually happening."
From the December 23 broadcast of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
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From Ben Shapiro's December 23 syndicated column:
During the 2008 election campaign, Barack Obama repeatedly informed the American people that he would call on the country's best minds to advise him. "You know," he told an audience back in May 2008, "my attitude is that whoever is the best person for the job is the person I want."
Too bad he thinks the best person for the job of secretary of defense is a bisexual, drug-addled talentless Auto-Tune creation with a relentlessly annoying fan base -- full of faux-profound morons who think that fashioning one's hair into a telephone qualifies as high art.
That's right -- Lady Gaga is the de facto secretary of defense.
This week, when the Democratic Senate trashed the Clinton-era "don't ask, don't tell" law designed to prevent homosexual activity and the breakdown of unit cohesion within military ranks, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) shuffled off to his Twitter account to send a note to the sponsor of the legislation: the aforementioned Gaga. "@ladygaga We did it!" Reid tweeted to Gaga, as though Gaga were a senator who had voted on the policy. "#DADT is a thing of the past."
Ms. Gaga -- a noxiously androgynous combination of Madonna, HAL 9000 and the worst of Salvador Dali -- had made it her personal mission to stump for the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell." On Sept. 20, 2010, Gaga made a speech in Maine replete with idiotic misconstructions of the Constitution and vicious slander about our troops (she compared them to the murderers of Matthew Shepard). Worst, she offered not a single argument as to how the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" would help the military.
In essence, her position was this: she likes homosexuals -- as she should, since she makes her living off of them. All those who feel uncomfortable about showering with homosexuals, being hit on by homosexuals or serving alongside gay couples, who will obviously defend each other before their comrades, are mean and nasty and brutish. Therefore, the military should throw out all of the soldiers who have such legitimate concerns (including 58 percent of front-line troops) in favor of the approximately 0.000188 percent of soldiers who have been discharged for homosexual behavior and/or self-identification.
If this seems like a troubling argument to you, you're sane. If it seems like a strong argument, you're Harry Reid.
Earlier this week, Media Matters announced it was launching Equality Matters, a new communications war room for gay equality. Below is a roundup of news reports and reactions from the broader progressive and LGBT communities.
As gay people around the country reveled on Sunday in the historic Senate vote to repeal "don't ask, don't tell," a liberal media watchdog group said it planned to announce on Monday that it was setting up a "communications war room for gay equality" in an effort to win the movement's next and biggest battle: for a right to same-sex marriage.
The new group, Equality Matters, grew out of Media Matters, an organization backed by wealthy liberal donors -- including prominent gay philanthropists -- that has staked its claim in Washington punditry with aggressive attacks on Fox News and conservative commentators like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck.
It will be run by Richard Socarides, a former domestic policy adviser to President Bill Clinton who has been deeply critical of President Obama's record on gay rights. A well-known gay journalist, Kerry Eleveld, the Washington correspondent for The Advocate, will leave that magazine in January to edit the new group's Web site, equalitymatters.org, which is to go online Monday morning.
Just days after Saturday's historic passage of a stand-alone Senate bill repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," David Brock, founder and CEO of the liberal watchdog group Media Matters for America, has announced the launch of Equality Matters - a new media initiative that aims to promote lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender equality.
The initiative, which Brock describes in a press release as a "communications war room for gay equality," comes as activists start to shift their focus to other issues in the fight for gay rights.
"Most Americans believe that gays and lesbians are entitled to the same rights and responsibilities as their fellow citizens, including now over 50% who believe in marriage equality," Socarides wrote in a Dec. 19 blog post. "Yet in Washington during these last two years, even with the historic passage of 'don't ask, don't tell' repeal, we were unable to fully transform favorable public opinion into the powerful and undeniable force for change that it should have been."
So it is interesting to see this week that Media Matters for America, a well-funded and well-staffed liberal Washington media watchdog group that has spent more than half a decade tweaking members of the press and turning right-wing talk radio and television hosts into villians ad seriatim, has moved to create its first explicitly activist site on behalf of a specific cause.
Launched officially on Monday, Equality Matters is a Web site and enterprise within the larger organization dedicated to fighting homophobia in the press -- and also pressuring Congressional and policy leaders to support same-sex marriage.
The timing of the announcement, just days after the historic repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law barring gays and lesbians from serving openly in the armed forces, could not have been more auspicious.
But the most interesting part of the move for students of the progressive movement in Washington is that it means that one of its most well-funded institutions is now on record as being an advocate for same-sex marriage and making that advocacy an explicit part of the overall progressive agenda -- something it has not always been.
Equality Matters will "try to be a rapid response war room that can push back against homophobic misrepresentation in the media and politics quickly," Socarides said, "but also very much about keeping the pressure on members of Congress and policy makers to create change more rapidly."
The liberal watchdog group Media Matters for America has announced that it will launch Equality Matters, a "communications war room for gay equality" to be run by Richard Socarides, to focus on what backers believe is the "movement's next and biggest battle," marriage equality.
Media Matters announced the launch of Equality Matters on Sunday in the wake of the historic victory in the Senate, which voted to repeal the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy.
According to The New York Times, Equality Matters will aim to retaliate quickly against homophobic media messages and keep the pressure on elected officials as the climate for gay rights progress is expected to worsen in 2011 with a Republican-led House and a decreased Democratic majority in the Senate.
The group will be led by Richard Socarides, a former LGBT adviser to President Bill Clinton. Kerry Eleveld, the Washington correspondent for The Advocate, will leave the magazine in January to edit the group's website, EqualityMatters.org. The site goes live Monday.
From the December 22 edition of MSNBC's Hardball:
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From the December 22 broadcast of MSNBC's live coverage of the DADT repeal:
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The Advocate: Mr. President, you're on the verge of signing legislation that is arguably one of the greatest advances for LGBT civil rights. What does it mean to you personally? And if you were to put it on a continuum of your accomplishments as president, where do you think it will rank in the history books?
President Barack Obama: I am incredibly proud. And part of the reason I'm proud is because this is the culmination of a strategy that began the first week I was in office. When I met with Bob Gates and I met with Admiral Mullen, I said to them I have a job as commander-in-chief in making sure that we have the best military in the world and that we're taking care of our folks who make such enormous sacrifices for our safety. I also have an obligation as president to make sure that all Americans have the capacity to serve, and I think "don't ask, don't tell" is wrong. So I want you guys to understand that I want to work with the Pentagon, I want to figure out how to do this right, but I intend to have this policy.
And to have been able to work through all the complications of that, arrive at a point where the secretary of Defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, both of whom were appointed under Republican presidents, were willing to publicly testify and advocate for this repeal; to have engineered an attitudinal study that vindicated my strong belief that people in the military care about how somebody does their job, not their sexual orientation...
Did you anticipate that that survey would turn out like that?
I was confident about it because I talked to enough troops and I had a sense of the innate fairness of the American people when it comes to an issue like should people be able to serve their military and potentially die for their country, that military attitudes were not going to be wildly divergent from public attitudes. And then to see how that combination of Gates, Mullen, [and] the study break the logjam and essentially provide the space for people of goodwill of both parties to do the right thing was just really gratifying.
And things don't always go according to your plans, and so when they do--especially in this town--it's pleasantly surprising. And when I think about the troops who I know are impacted by this--I visited Afghanistan just a few weeks ago. And while I was doing the rope line, a young woman in uniform was shaking my hand--it was a big crowd--she hugged me and she whispered in my ear, "Get 'don't ask, don't tell' done." And I said to her, "I promise you I will." And for me to be able to deliver that Christmas present to her and so many others is incredibly gratifying.
So I would say, look... we've done a lot this year and we did a lot the previous year, and so obviously saving the economy from depression, getting health care passed, and getting financial regulatory reform are all things that I'm very proud of. But this is one of those issues where you know individual people directly that are going to be impacted and you know it helps shift attitudes in a direction of greater fairness over the long term. I think when people look back 20 years from now they'll say this was one of the more important things that I've gotten done since I've been president.
Daily Caller columnist Darin Selnick is not happy about the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. After some pro forma lying about the public's attitudes towards DADT repeal ("Democrats once again imposed their left-wing San Francisco values on America … it is about jamming the Democrats' left-wing, radical social agenda down the throats of the American people") Selnick gets around to his point: Attempting to rally social conservatives to fight for the repeal of the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell:
Social conservatives know that the military is the last line of defense in the culture war and if it falls, so does the rest of the country.
Social conservatives are already fighting back. Virginia Delegate Bob Marshall is in the process of drafting a bill for Virginia's 2011 legislative session that would ban gays from serving in the Virginia National Guard. It is only a matter of time before social conservatives begin to fight back against DADT's repeal at the federal level as well. Just as abortion has not gone away, DADT will not go away and will be a rallying cry as social conservatives draw the line in the sand and finally say enough is enough.
I have no doubt Selnick and a handful of others like him will continue to make similar noises going forward. When they do, it is important for the news media to keep in mind that not only do they represent a small minority of the American people, they represent only a small minority of conservative Republicans and white evangelicals, as well. There's no reason to treat them like serious leaders of a large movement, because they just aren't. (I'm talking to you, Washington Post.)
The conservative Media Research Center-owned website CNSNews.com has a habit of springing loaded questions on members of Congress. For example, it asked Obama administration official John Holdren to explain something he wrote in a book published nearly 40 years ago.
Apparently feeling confident (and sufficiently homophobic), CNS decided to target Rep. Barney Frank with a question about the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell – specifically, whether he thought gay and straight soldiers should shower together. This was based on a statement calling for a ban on separate showers from the Pentagon's report on the impact of repealing DADT that CNS had previously singled out.
Frank saw this coming from a mile away. As CNS reporter Nicholas Ballasy slowly got out the words "shower with homosexuals," Frank let out an exaggerated gasp and responded, "What do you think happens in gyms all over America?" After calling it a "silly issue," Frank added, "What do you think goes wrong with people showering with homosexuals? Do you think it's the spray makes it catching? ... We don't get ourselves dry-cleaned."
Frank then turned the tables on his interviewer by quizzing Ballasy: "I know you're looking for some way to kind of discredit the policy. Do you think that gyms should have separate showers for gay and straight people? I'm asking you the question because that's the logic of what you're telling me. You seem to think that there's something extraordinary about gay men showering together. Do you think gyms should have separate showers for gay people and straight people?" Ballasy wouldn't answer, insisting that he was "just quoting the recommendation." Frank responded: "Don't be disingenuous. You're quoting those you think may cause us some problems. You're entitled to do that, but you shouldn't hide behind your views." Frank again asked the question of Ballasy, who again wouldn't answer, trying to change the subject: "So that's the question you would pose to people who have an issue with that part of the report, the recommendation?" Frank made his point one more time, and that's where the CNS ends the video.
The CNS article on Ballasy's gotcha interview ignores how Frank saw through his tactics, instead playing up the irrelevant point that Frank opposes opposite-sex soliders showering together. But give credit to CNS for posting the video of Frank using its reporter's gotcha tactics against him -- and thus providing other politicians with a how-to manual for the next time CNS pops up out of nowhere to fire a loaded question.
From the December 21 edition of Premiere Radio Network's The Rush Limbaugh Show:
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Nothing sets Pat Buchanan off like the repeal of institutionalized bigotry. Of course, Pat Buchanan reacting angrily to the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell isn't exactly surprising: If you've heard of Buchanan, you're probably aware of his intense dislike for just about everybody who isn't exactly like him. No, what's really striking about Buchanan's latest screed is just how out of touch he is with the world around him: From public opinion to the role of Congress, he just has no idea what he's talking about.
A Democratic Congress, discharged by the voters on Nov. 2, has as one of its last official acts, imposed its San Francisco values on the armed forces of the United States.
Why are we undertaking this social experiment with the finest military on earth? Does justice demand it? Was there a national clamor for it?
Poor Pat Buchanan, too blinded by his hate to realize than those "San Francisco values" are American values. Not just because "all men are created equal" has been articulated (if not always acted upon) as an American value since the Declaration of Independence, but because the overwhelming majority of Americans -- 77 percent -- agree that gays should be able to serve openly in the military. "Clamor" is, I suppose, a subjective term -- but yes, DADT repeal reflects the will of the people.
(Buchanan doesn't explain his assertion that justice does not demand that gays enjoy equal treatment under the law.)
Buchanan lashes out at Congress for doing its job:
The least respected of American institutions, Congress, with an approval rating of 13 percent, is imposing its cultural and moral values on the most respected of American institutions, the U.S. military.
Congress, in concert with the president, is supposed to impose its will on the military. That's one of the things that differentiates America from a military dictatorship. Though I guess you can't expect someone whose claim to fame is having worked for Watergate-era Nixon and Iran-Contra-era Reagan to grasp such concepts. And this business about "imposing cultural and moral values" is a bit much, given that all Congress did was tell the military to stop imposing Pat Buchanan's cultural and moral values.
Buchanan favors a misguided and overly simplistic decision-making process:
One Marine commandant after another asked Congress to consider the issue from a single standpoint:
Will the admission of gay men into barracks at Pendleton and Parris Island enhance the fighting effectiveness of the Corps?
Buchanan doesn't explain why it is appropriate to assess a discriminatory policy from only that "single standpoint." Plenty of policies governing the military are rightly made even if they do not "enhance the fighting effectiveness of the Corps." The military exists to defend America and its values; it therefore makes little sense to subjugate those values to the military. In any case, the people whose job it is to lead the military favored repeal and think fighting effectiveness will be just fine. Why doesn't Pat Buchanan share their faith in the brave men and women of the United States military?
Buchanan conflates "gays" with "child molesters":
Don't ask, don't tell" is to be repealed. Open homosexuals are to be welcomed with open arms in all branches of the armed services.
Let us hope this works out better for the Marine Corps than it did for the Catholic Church.
The Catholic Church's problem wasn't that it was too hospitable to gays; it was that it (at best) did little to stop child molesters from molesting children. Those two things are quite different.
Did I mention that Pat Buchanan does not like gays? He doesn't:
This is a victory in the culture war for the new morality of the social revolution of the 1960s and a defeat for traditional Judeo-Christian values. For only in secularist ideology is it an article of faith that all sexual relations are morally equal and that to declare homosexual acts immoral is bigotry.
But while this new morality may be orthodoxy among our elites in the academy, media, culture and the arts, Middle America has never signed on and still regards homosexuality as an aberrant lifestyle, both socially and spiritually ruinous.
Buchanan's efforts to speak for "Middle America" are increasingly misguided: He doesn't even speak for the middle of the Republican Party, much less the nation as a whole. Remember how 77 percent of Americans favored DADT repeal? Yeah … so did 70 percent of white evangelicals. And 67 percent of conservative Republicans. There's a reason why Buchanan's assertions of the dominance of anti-gay sentiment don't include any actual numbers: They aren't true anywhere outside of his own mind, where it is always 1952.
The world has turned upside down. What was criminal vice in the 1950s -- homosexuality and abortion -- is not only constitutionally protected, but a mark of social progress.
Buchanan didn't elaborate, but that sounds an awful lot like a complaint that "homosexuality" is no longer "criminal." But remember: He (says he) doesn't like it when Congress imposes "cultural and moral values."