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Tony Perkins Still Can’t Let Go Of DADT

April 21, 2011 11:34 am ET by Carlos Maza

Old habits die hard, apparently. On Tuesday, Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council (FRC) -- designated an anti-gay hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center -- wrote a column for attempting to resurrect old fears about open military service and asking House Republicans to try to derail the repeal of the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) policy:

[T]he “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010” did not actually repeal anything. Instead, it set in motion an unusual series of trigger mechanisms, which would not lead to repeal until sixty days after the last one of them is completed. Since this process has not yet been completed, the law barring homosexual conduct in the military is still in place—and there is still time to stop this ill-advised repeal.


[T]he new House of Representatives, under Republican control, has now had the opportunity, in two hearings, to ask some of the hard questions that were not asked in the rushed lame duck session—and shine light on the fact that repeal does not meet those standards.

Unfortunately for Perkins, the House hearings he references did not find that DADT repeal “does not meet those standards.” During the April 1 House Armed Services subcommittee on repeal, Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Clifford Stanley testified that he saw “no issues or problems” with the law’s repeal, adding “all is going well.” Despite multiple attempts to raise concerns about the cost and necessity of preparing troops for open service, Republicans subcommittee members were largely unable to validate their horror stories about openly gay service members.

The story wasn’t very different during the April 7 full House Armed Services Committee hearing. Unless, of course, you’re listening to Tony Perkins. From his Fox column:

The Pentagon has prepared detailed training about repeal of the current law, which is already underway. But on April 7, the House Armed Services Committee questioned the four service chiefs (all of whom expressed significant reservations about repeal last year). None of the chiefs was prepared to declare that such a change would improve the military, and Army Gen. George Casey stated in written remarks that it posed a “moderate risk” to the force—in contrast to last year’s Pentagon study, which declared the risk to be “low.” [emphasis added]

Perkins is engaging in a dishonest but common right-wing tactic in order to dismiss evidence in favor of DADT repeal. Neither of these hearings was held in order to determine if repealing DADT would “improve” the military – their goal was to determine if DADT repeal would adversely affect the military’s ability to fulfill its roles. On that question, the chiefs were quite clear.

Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos, who previously opposed repeal of DADT:

I’m looking for issues that might arise specifically coming out of the … training, and to be honest with you, chairman, we’ve not seen it… here’s questions about billeting for Marines — I mean, the kinds of questions you would expect — but there hasn’t been the recalcitrant pushback, there’s not been the anxiety over it from the forces in the field.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz:

We will rely on steady leadership at all levels to implement this change in a manner that is consistent with standards of military readiness and effectiveness, with minimal adverse effect on unit cohesion, recruiting and retention in the Air Force.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead:

The United States Navy can successfully implement a repeal of the law. Combat effectiveness is what we provide the nation and repeal will not change who we are or what we do.

Perkins isn’t the first right-winger to grossly misrepresent what happened during the House DADT hearings.

However, it appears his call to disrupt the discriminatory law’s ongoing repeal hasn’t fallen on deaf ears in Congress. Last week, Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA), Chair of the House Armed Services Committee, announced his support for a bill that would expand the certification requirements for DADT repeal, further slowing the repeal process.


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