There is a long-running conservative media narrative that allowing gay men and lesbians to serve in the military openly would undermine unit cohesion, recruitment, and retention. For example, take Les Kinsolving's insistence in his recent WorldNetDaily column that repeal of DADT would prompt an uptick in early retirement so huge that it would necessitate a return to the draft, and that Baptist and Catholic chaplains would be forced from the military. Thankfully, those tired voices can rest after the release of the Pentagon report on Don't Ask Don't Tell. The report investigates their concerns and as it turns out, the sky isn't falling.
The report confirms that open service is unlikely to harm unit cohesion or readiness. In a letter released today by the Palm Center, 30 scholars contend the report echoes many other studies and leaves only one obstacle to repeal: prejudice. When asked about the effect of repeal on task cohesion, personal readiness, and unit readiness, majorities of those surveyed said they expected a "positive, mixed, or no effect." From page 64 of the report, emphasis added:
The Service member survey asked a number of questions on Service members' views about the effect of repeal on unit cohesion, including task and social cohesion. Task cohesion is a unit's ability to work together effectively, whereas social cohesion is a unit's ability to get along and trust one another. Overall, 70-76% of Service members said repeal would have a positive, a mixed, or no effect on aspects of task cohesion. Similarly, 67-78% of Service members said repeal would have a positive, mixed, or no effect on aspects of social cohesion.
Only 12 percent of those surveyed said that repeal would have a negative effect on their personal readiness, and only 31 percent expected a negative impact on unit readiness. From page 68 of the report, emphasis added:
Service members were asked to assess their current readiness, as well as how repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell would affect their personal readiness and their unit's readiness. With regard to personal readiness, 67% of Service members said that repeal would have a positive or no effect; 22% said the effect would be equally positive as negative, and 12% said repeal would have a negative effect. In addition, 58% said repeal would have a positive or no effect on their ability to train well; 21% said the effect would be equally positive as negative; and 21% said repeal would have a negative effect. The responses about effects at the unit level, as opposed to at the personal level, were somewhat more negative. For example, with regard to their unit's ability to train well together, 31% said that repeal would have a negative impact.
Right-wing concerns about recruitment and retention are similarly overblown. From pages 68-69 of the report, emphasis added:
The Services rely on referrals--from family, friends, and current or former Service members--for about a third of new recruits. Overall, nearly one-half (47%) of Service members said that repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell would have no effect on their willingness to recommend military service to a family member or close friend; 6% said that it would have positive effect; 10% said it would have a mixed effect; and 27% said it would have a negative effect.
Overall, more than 60% of Service members told us that their career plans would not change as a result of repeal; 13% said that they would definitely leave sooner than they had otherwise planned; and 11% said they would think about leaving sooner than they had planned.
In other countries that have allowed gay men and women to serve, the repeal of bans on openly gay service did not affect recruitment or retention, despite significantly higher percentages of troops stating beforehand that they would respond negatively. In a 1985 survey of male Canadian troops, 45 percent said they would refuse to work with gays. In a 1996 survey of British troops, two-thirds said they would not willingly serve if openly gay and lesbian persons were allowed to serve. Both countries subsequently lifted their bans without suffering the severe circumstances predicted by surveys.
Lest they ignore Kinsolving's concerns for military chaplains, the report authors thought that, too. From page 12 of the report, emphasis added:
Special attention should also be given to address the concerns of our community of 3,000 military chaplains. Some of the most intense and sharpest divergence of views about Don't Ask, Don't Tell exists among the chaplain corps. A large number of military chaplains (and their followers) believe that homosexuality is a sin and an abomination, and that they are required by God to condemn it as such.
However, the reality is that in today's U.S. military, people of sharply different moral values and religious convictions--including those who believe that abortion is murder and those who do not, and those who believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God and those who do not--and those who have no religious convictions at all, already co-exist, work, live, and fight together on a daily basis. The other reality is that policies regarding Service members' individual expression and free exercise of religion already exist, and we believe they are adequate. Service members will not be required to change their personal views and religious beliefs; they must, however, continue to respect and serve with others who hold different views and beliefs.
Within the chaplain community, the solution to this issue can be found in the existing guidance developed by and for our chaplains, which we believe should be reiterated as part of any education and training concerning repeal. Those regulations strike an appropriate balance between protecting a chaplain's First Amendment freedoms and a chaplain's duty to care for all. Existing regulations state that chaplains "will not be required to perform a religious role...in worship services, command ceremonies, or other events, if doing so would be in variance with the tenets or practices of their faith." At the same time, regulations state that "Chaplains care for all Service members, including those who claim no religious faith, facilitate the religious requirements of personnel of all faiths, provide faith-specific ministries, and advise the command."
But perhaps the most telling numbers from the Pentagon survey are that of the 69 percent of those surveyed who report having worked with a service member believed to be gay or lesbian, only 8 percent of respondents report having experienced a resultant negative effect on the unit's "ability to work together." From page 4 of the report, emphasis added:
The reality is that there are gay men and lesbians already serving in today's U.S. military, and most Service members recognize this. As stated before, 69% of the force recognizes that they have at some point served in a unit with a co-worker they believed to be gay or lesbian. Of those who have actually had this experience in their career, 92% stated that the unit's "ability to work together" was "very good," "good," or "neither good nor poor," while only 8% stated it was "poor" or "very poor." Anecdotally, we also heard a number of Service members tell us about a leader, co-worker, or fellow Service member they greatly liked, trusted, or admired, who they later learned was gay; and how once that person's sexual orientation was revealed to them, it made little or no difference to the relationship. Both the survey results and our own engagement of the force convinced us that when Service members had the actual experience of serving with someone they believe to be gay, in general unit performance was not affected negatively by this added dimension.
On the same day CNN reports that a Pentagon survey will report that a "majority of U.S. service members surveyed do not care if the law banning openly gay and lesbian troops from serving is repealed," World Net Daily has published a column by Les Kinsolving that warns that repeal would bring mass early retirement significant enough to prompt a return to the draft.
From Kinsolving's WND column:
But that uproar will surely be superseded if the commander in chief of our armed forces joins a lame-duck Democratic Congress in repealing the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, known as DADT.
Such an action would force members of our Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard to share sleeping quarters, showers and latrines with self-announced homosexuals. Service personnel would eventually be subject to the orders of noncommissioned and commissioned officers who are similarly self-announced homosexuals.
If that took place, just consider the impact of a large number of long-serving personnel who would retire as soon as possible - rather than submitting to such a horrendous invasion of privacy as being lusted after by the numerous lobbies of militant homosexuality.
This, in turn, would almost certainly put an end to our all-volunteer armed forces. That would compel reinstitution of the draft.
Any such compulsory service in the armed forces with self-announced noncommissioned and commissioned officers who are militant homosexuals would at least cause major lawsuits - along with an even higher rate of draft resistors than during the Vietnam War.
In the real world where people gather data about militaries that have implemented inclusive policies, no such thing has ever happened. Polls of British and Canadian troops suggested mass resignations would occur following the repeal of a ban on gay service members, but retention did not suffer following repeal. Not a single one of 104 experts surveyed for a 2003 study believed that recruitment or retention suffered because of the repeal of bans by the Australian, Canadian, Israeli, or British militaries.
Times are tough for the newspaper industry -- perhaps that is why Michigan's Holland Sentinel has turned over its pages for yet another anti-gay advertisement.
This time around, the ad features a same-sex couple embracing beneath a headline reading, "How sad when God's original design is twisted!" The ad, purchased by Pastor Earl Shetler of Now Jesus Ministries, goes on to quote Bible passages. As Towleroad notes, Shetler "also runs a tree removal service in Saugatuck, Michigan, a popular gay and lesbian resort town."
Attempts by Media Matters to reach Holland Sentinel publisher and editor Peter Esser for comment by phone and email went unanswered. You can reach the Holland Sentinel here or email Esser directly here with your thoughts on the paper's decision to profit off of bigotry.
View the previous ad that ran in the Holland Sentinel this past July by the Family Research Council (FRC) after the jump. The FRC was added to a list of anti-gay hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center just months after the ad appeared in print.
When we last left Dr. Laura she had announced that she would be ending her nationally syndicated radio show on December 31 due to criticism over the now infamous rant in which she used the N-word 11 times. For those that need to be brought up to speed:
On August 10, Dr. Laura Schlessinger launched into a racially charged rant, during which Schlessinger -- in her own words -- "articulated the 'n' word all the way out -- more than one time." Among other things, Schlessinger also told an African-American caller that she had a "chip on [her] shoulder."
Schlessinger apologized the next day.
As Media Matters noted at the time, it wasn't the faux-psychologist's first brush with controversy:
Schlessinger's troubles then -- just like now -- began with incendiary remarks aimed at a minority group. During the 1990s, Schlesinger blasted "homosexuality" as "a biological error," "deviant behavior, a dysfunctional behavior," and linked gay men to pedophilia and child molestation. Schlessinger also touted "therapies which have been successful in helping a reasonable number of people become heterosexual."
When Paramount announced it had signed Schlessinger to a TV talk show for the fall of 2000, the group StopDrLaura.com successfully "waged a campaign to dissuade companies from sponsoring the show." Dr. Laura debuted to "disappointing" ratings and Paramount "had difficulty attracting national sponsors to the show," forcing the studio to sell ads at reduced rates (LA Times, 9/22/00).
In the spring of 2001, Dr. Laura -- to no one's surprise -- was cancelled. Schlessinger blamed the cancellation on gay rights groups such as StopDrLaura.com and Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), telling Larry King that "political correctness" "overpowers and overwhelms the United States of America today. ... This was strictly about trying to destroy my voice." Schlessinger defenders claimed that critics were trying to silence her "1st amendment" rights.
It is now being reported that Schlessinger will only be trading in her terrestrial radio program in favor of a satellite broadcast on Sirius XM. As Huffington Post notes:
The AP report, which appears to have been published prematurely, says Schlessinger will begin on Sirius XM on January 3, just three days after signing off from terrestrial radio.
Much like Howard Stern before her, Schlessinger says that freedom of speech is what drew her to satellite radio.
"The first and most important thing that appealed to me was the freedom to speak my mind without advertisers and affiliates being attacked by activist groups that just love to censor anything they don't agree with," she told the Associated Press. "That just about made my heart and head explode."
The Associated Press report appears to have been designed for publication Monday, and has since been retracted. A note to editors said to disregard the story was it "was not intended for publication on Friday." A representative for Sirius XM did not respond to a request for comment.
In a November 23 Washington Times op-ed, Frank Gaffney wrote that repealing the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law could lead to reinstatement of the draft. Gaffney stated: "If tens of thousands choose not to submit [to the repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'] and 'vote with their feet,' as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, has called on them to do, it may become impossible to rely only on volunteers to staff our military." Gaffney continued: "In that case, a vote for repeal of the 1993 law barring homosexuals from the military amounts to a vote for reinstating the draft."
Gaffney further equated the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" with TSA's security procedures, stating: "Being forced to submit to a privacy-rending body scan or pat-down - unpleasant as it may be - is not likely to compare to the trauma that can flow from being forced to submit to showering or sharing a bunkroom with someone who finds you sexually attractive."
From Gaffney's op-ed:
Team Obama's line is that "most" in uniform think there will be no problem, or at least "mixed" good and bad repercussions. But if even an estimated 10 percent choose to leave the service - let alone 40 percent of Marines, who, according to the leakers, think repeal will cause problems - the effect will be traumatic, possibly devastating, for the U.S. armed forces. If tens of thousands choose not to submit and "vote with their feet," as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, has called on them to do, it may become impossible to rely only on volunteers to staff our military.
In that case, a vote for repeal of the 1993 law barring homosexuals from the military amounts to a vote for reinstating the draft.
Author and advice columnist Dan Savage appeared Tuesday afternoon on CNN Newsroom to discuss two reports out this week by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC): The first updating its list of anti-gay hate groups and the second finding that LGBT Americans "are far more likely to be victims of a violent hate crime than any other minority group in the United States."
Savage -- the founder of the "It Gets Better Project" which aims to stem the recent tide of LGBT youth suicides -- took the interview with CNN's Kyra Phillips as an opportunity to jab CNN and other networks for providing a platform to anti-gay hate group leaders like the Family Research Council's Tony Perkins. As Savage noted in a blog post following the interview, Perkins' Family Research Council is on the SPLC's list of anti-gay hate groups. From the interview:
PHILLIPS: You know, it's difficult to say what would be a solution [to anti-gay hate crimes]. But, could we start with more hate crimes legislation where bullies are prosecuted more severely?
SAVAGE: We can start with that, we can also start with… really, we need a cultural reckoning around gay and lesbian issues. There was once two sides to the race debate. There was once a side, you could go on television and argue for segregation, you could argue against interracial marriage, against the Civil Rights Act, against extending voting rights to African Americans and that used to be treated as one side, you know, one legitimate side of a pressing national debate and it isn't anymore. And we really need to reach that point with gay and lesbian issues. There are no 'two sides' to the issues about gay and lesbian rights.
And right now one side is really using dehumanizing rhetoric. The Southern Poverty Law Center labels these groups as hate groups and yet the leaders of these groups, people like Tony Perkins, are welcomed onto networks like CNN to espouse hate directed at gays and lesbians. And similarly hateful people who are targeting Jews or people of color or anyone else would not be welcome to spew their bile on networks like CNN and then that really -- we really have to start there. We have to start with that type of cultural reckoning.
In a November 18 editorial titled, "Barack's Brokeback barracks," The Washington Times again baselessly fearmongered that "[m]ilitary personnel whose religious beliefs conflict with the LGBT agenda will find themselves no longer welcome in the military" if the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law is repealed.
From the Times' editorial:
The unchecked leaks conceal the larger problem with the working-group effort, which has focused not on whether the 1993 law regarding homosexuals in the military - usually called "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" - should be repealed, but how a repeal should be implemented. As sources in the military "listening sessions" have stated in letters to The Washington Times, working-group members have promoted the Obama administration's social revolution from the top down. Military personnel whose religious beliefs conflict with the LGBT agenda will find themselves no longer welcome in the military. Even if the 70 percent number were accurate, that would imply nearly a third of the troops would be on the unwanted list.
From the November 16 edition of Fox Business' Freedom Watch:
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The slow-witted thirteen-year-olds Tucker Carlson has apparently hired to run The Daily Caller strike again:
Get it? Rosie O'Donnell, who is gay, is therefore half a man. Hahahahaha!
When The Daily Caller launched with $3 million in seed money from Republican financier Foster Freiss, the GOP donor said: "Tucker and Neil [Patel] present a huge opportunity to re-introduce civility to our political discourse. They are mature, sensible men who are very thoughtful and experienced with pleasant senses of humor and do not take themselves too seriously. They want to make a contribution to the dialogue that occurs in our country that has become too antagonistic, nasty and hostile."
I'll give Freiss this much: His quote is funnier than any of the Daily Caller's gay jokes.
It's been a little while since the Washington Post last provided a platform for gay-bashing, so let's check in on the On Faith microsite, shall we?
Uh-oh. This won't go well: It's a discussion topic about gays in the military. And the Post's introduction to the discussion quotes the the anti-gay views of three people -- but doesn't quote any gay-rights advocates.
And right off the bat, Frank Pavone, president of the National Pro-Life Religious Council and a Catholic priest (last seen writing in the Post that sex can only be had "in a marriage between a man and a woman, and when open to life") chimes in with a post encouraging military chaplains to denounce gay service members. Here's Pavone:
On military bases, when our service people gather for worship, they are gathering as a community called together and united by the Word of God. By so gathering, they are saying they accept that word and are striving to live by it. If they come together as Catholics to have Mass and Communion, they are identifying themselves with a community that has a specific set of beliefs and practices, and they are saying they accept those beliefs and practices.
Those beliefs and practices include accepting and respecting God's plan for human sexuality and striving to live accordingly. The chaplain's role is to lead the community in the affirmation of those beliefs, and to bring God's strength to those trying to live them. The chaplain draws clear lines between what corresponds to Christian belief and behavior, and what doesn't. It's not up to the chaplain to create or change those boundaries.
If we institute policies which are going to openly condone homosexual activity, let's not be surprised or complain when chaplains do their job.
So, I guess Pavone isn't among those who consider "unit cohesion" an important goal. Otherwise, he probably wouldn't be quite so eager for military chaplains to sow discord among troops by devoting sermons to the supposed immorality of gay service members.
Pavone also suggests gays shouldn't be allowed to serve openly, demonstrating a clear double-standard in the process:
Now if a gay person wants to serve in the military, I honor that person's commitment to defend this country and serve its citizens.
At the same time, I would think that defending the country and serving its citizens are precisely the motive for entering the military - not, on the other hand, making a statement about being gay.
I don't know where Pavone got the idea that people who want to be able to serve without lying about being gay are more interested in "making a statement about being gay" than in serving their country, but I'm quite confident he'd never write such a passage about troops who want to be openly straight.
Last week, the Washington Post reported on a Pentagon study group that found minimal risk to repealing the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy. According to two sources familiar with the report -- which is slated to be released on December 1 -- overturning the law would actually have "positive, mixed or nonexistent effects," and military objections to allowing openly gay men and women to serve would subside once repeal took effect.
Good news, right? Not if you're Robert Knight of Coral Ridge Ministries.
In an op-ed in today's Washington Times, Knight, a conservative activist and writer with a proclivity for making homophobic remarks, pushed back hard against the report, deriding its leak as part of a mission to "destroy the military's backbone" and expressing skepticism that most soldiers indeed support repeal:
Not all of the snipers targeting U.S. military personnel are in caves or perched on cliffs in Afghanistan. Some are right here in America, planting stories instead of explosives. Their mission: to destroy the military's moral backbone. On Oct. 28, unnamed "sources" claimed to the Associated Press that a survey conducted by the military over ending the ban on homosexuality reveals that most soldiers are thrilled with the idea. Sure they are.
Knight also claimed the military would "be used as a battering ram against American society's resistance to mandated acceptance of homosexuality" and concluded, "Watch this week for more leaks and talking heads concluding that the 'science is settled,' that GI Joe really does want Gay Joe for a bunky."
Knight's op-ed is just the latest anti-gay screed the Washington Times has tastelessly chosen to publish. As we've previously noted, the Times has an extensive history of plugging anti-gay smears, falsehoods, and distortions, including that repealing DADT would "break" the military."
However, mounting evidence reveals that the law isn't working and that repeal would not undermine unit cohesion and morale. Moreover, polls show that an overwhelming majority of Americans support overturning the policy.
When it comes to DADT, it's clear that the arguments put forth by the Times fly in the face of the facts. Rather than offer substantive evidence, the Times goes to great lengths to promote an anti-gay agenda that relies solely on conservative dogma and the vitriol of other homophobes. This is both an insult and a disservice to all members of the military and the general public.
Here's today's Washington Post, on Sen. John McCain's opposition to repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell:
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the war hero and former presidential candidate who once supported repeal … is now trying to strip it from the massive defense authorization bill that sets Pentagon policy. McCain has said he wants it cut to ensure quick passage of the bill, according to his aides.
But the claim that McCain wants DADT repeal removed in order to ensure quick passage of the bill simply does not make sense.
See, just a few weeks ago, John McCain said he'd filibuster an attempt to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell. The idea that McCain's only objection to including DADT in the defense authorization bill is that he fears it would slow passage of the bill is incompatible with his own statements that he'd filibuster DADT. People worried about legislation being slowed down don't threaten filibusters. They announce that they'll vote for cloture. And people who don't object to DADT repeal as long as it doesn't slow passage of a defense authorization bill don't threaten to filibuster repeal.
I don't know what John McCain's real reason is, but the Post should try to find out rather than uncritically passing on nonsensical spin from his office. Failing that, they should at least make clear that the given reason doesn't make any sense.
Take a look at the headline for this AP article:
The phrase "Pope defends family" in this headline implies two things: That "family" does not include gays, and that "family" needs defending from them. (And, looking at the article more broadly, it also implies that a divorced parent and his or her children are not a "family," either -- and neither is a couple including a woman who has had an abortion.)
The Pope didn't "defend family." He articulated his view of what constitutes a family and what threatens it. A headline stipulating to that view is pretty much the opposite of impartial journalism.
Don't see the difference? Try to imagine the AP using the headline "Speech defends family" for an article about a speech in which someone embraces gay marriage, single-parent households, and reproductive rights.
In his October 25, 2010 broadcast of The Savage Nation, nationally renowned homophobe Michael Savage did his best to blame the contraction of throat cancer on gay men:
Did you hear this? Oral sex between men is bringing about a rise in men's throat cancer, as well as a few other risk factors. Would you like to hear what they are? Would you like to hear this? Oh, that's right, how about marijuana? Oral sex amongst men and marijuana smoking seem to be correlated in the increase of men's throat cancer. It's a horrible type of cancer. Horrible. Just horrible horrible horrible!
Although ABC News did release an article regarding a study that links oral sex to certain cancers, the article never attributes this to gay men, as Savage does. In fact, the article never mentions oral sex between two men at all. The study does say that oral cancers as well as those in the neck and head can be caused by Human Papillomavirus (or HPV), which is, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, just as common in women as it is in men. In addition to contracting HPV through oral sex, the article claims that the virus can also be transmitted through other means, like open-mouth kissing, or sexual intercourse. The article never mentions sexual orientation at all.
Fox & Friends this morning provided further evidence of their willingness to tolerate any kind of hateful, bigoted rhetoric, as long as it advances their agenda. Today's example: Catholic League President Bill Donohue who appeared on the program to whine about perceived anti-Catholic prejudice in the New York Times. Donohue cited past artistic reviews, and a picture of the musical Divine Sister to support his claim.
If it had just ended with a well-known guest complaining about a so-called "liberal," anti-Christian "bias" in the media, this segment would be no different from Fox & Friends' normal campaign against any media outlet that isn't a political arm of the GOP. But, Donohue went further, using his appearance on a major news program to spew anti-gay bigotry. Donohue claimed that "if everybody practiced what the Catholic Church teaches in terms of sexuality, you wouldn't even have people dying of AIDS," and, after pointing out that the Catholic Church spends money "servicing people dying of AIDS," complained "and yet we continue to get it by these gay bigots."
Donohue went on to claim that the Times "hate[s] the Catholic church's teachings on sexuality," presumably because "it's a gay-friendly newspaper." Here is the interview, posted in its entirety just so you don't miss any of Donohue's vitriol: