Washington Examiner Peddles Long-Debunked Myths About DADT Repeal
August 08, 2013 1:09 pm ET by Luke Brinker
The Washington Examiner granted retired Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Conway a platform to express his anti-gay views, without noting that Conway's claims about the effects of allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military are not supported by recent studies.
In an article posted on August 7, Conway stood by his opposition to the 2010 repeal of the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT) policy, asserting that while it's "too soon to tell" what the effects of the repeal will be, it may be damaging military effectiveness:
Conway retired in 2010, just before Congress passed the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," which allowed gays and lesbians to serve in the military. As the top general overseeing the Marine Corps, Conway was a vocal opponent of such a move.
Even with the policy debate now settled, Conway says it's "too soon to tell" whether repeal was the right policy, and expressed doubts as to whether it has "enhanced our combat effectiveness."
"If you have homosexuals in the ranks they are still, by and large, keeping it to themselves," Conway said. "They feel like they are no longer persecutable, or punished, for their activities; but by and large they are keeping their personal lives to themselves. People want to do their jobs."
There's nothing wrong with reporting that Conway continues to oppose open service by gays and lesbians in the military, but the Examiner did its readers a disservice when it omitted the findings of a 2012 study conducted for the University of California, Santa Barbara's Palm Center. Through interviews with gay and straight soldiers alike, the study found that DADT repeal had not harmed unit cohesion or military readiness. Professor Nathaniel Frank of Columbia University, one of the academics to conduct the study along with scholars from the four military service academies, wrote in Slate that even while some soldiers expressed personal opposition to homosexuality, soldiers did not believe that open service by gays and lesbians damaged "overall morale and readiness."
Other findings corroborate the Palm Center study. A 2012 Military Times poll found that 69 percent of soldiers believed that DADT repeal had had "no impact" on their service. Meanwhile, the chiefs of the four branches of the armed services are unanimous in their support for open service by gays and lesbians, as Stars and Stripes reported in July 2011.
It's not surprising that Conway continues to oppose the repeal of DADT, even though the horror stories about declining military readiness haven't panned out. His anti-gay views have been touted by the Family Research Council, an anti-gay hate group. And as The Advocate reported in 2010, Conway has endorsed the segregation of gay and straight soldiers. That particular tidbit was also missing from the Examiner's piece.