Equality Matters

Donnelly CPAC Speech Rehashes DADT Falsehoods

February 11, 2011 12:08 pm ET

During CPAC's Thursday breakout session entitled "How Political Correctness Is Harming America's Military," Center for Military Readiness president and founder Elaine Donnelly repeated a number of falsehoods about the passage and implementation of the repeal of don't ask, don't tell" (DADT).

Donnelly Falsely Claims DADT Repeal Forces Military Chaplains To Violate Their Religion Or Quit

From the February 10 CPAC event, "How Political Correctness is Harming America's Military":

DONNELLY: Chaplains have a serious problem here. Because, yes they minister people, regardless of the issue, even people who have made serious mistakes, on moral issues. The difference is that chaplains are not expected to endorse the issue that they're faith tradition considers immoral, but that's what they're expected to do in regards to homosexuality. It was said during hearings in the Senate that 'well we're going to lose a lot of chaplains.' So one of the questions is, how many chaplains are we going to lose? Bottom line question How does this benefit the military? How does this benefit morale? The chaplain issue alone is enough to stop this train before it pulls out of the station.

Military Chaplains Will Not Be Required To Perform A Religious Role In Events And Services In Variance With The Tenets Or Practices Of Their Faith. From the Pentagon's DADT Working Group report:

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." [DADT Working Group Report, 11/30/10, emphasis added]

Contrary To Donnelly's Suggestion, Pentagon Report Concluded Repeal Would Not Cause A Significant Loss In The Number Of Chaplains. Roughly 2 percent of chaplains said they would seek to leave the service if DADT was repealed:

In the discussion groups with chaplains, while many expressed opposition to a change in policy, nearly all indicated that they were willing to continue their ministry in the military. Only three out of approximately 145 chaplains who participated indicated they would seek to separate or retire should the law be changed. [DADT Working Group Report, 11/30/10]

Donnelly Complains Pentagon Study Never Asked Service Members About Their Opinions On Repeal

From the February 10 CPAC event, "How Political Correctness is Harming America's Military":

DONNELLY: Ultimately the Commander in Chief is responsible for what happened in December and of course members of Congress. The survey that was done, the RAND corporation had a lot to do with it and a company called [inaudible] or something, they had all these questions and they never once asked the question: "Do you favor retention or repeal of the law?" And I want to bring this to your attention, during the superficial hearings that have taken place, every statement made by the Secretary of Defense, not once has the Secretary of Defense said that repeal of that law would benefit the military. All they talk about is mitigating the damage, okay? So the burden of proof is on them to show why this is a good idea. They have failed to meet that burden of proof.

The Report Was Not Meant To Ask Service Members For Their Opinion On Repeal, But It Did Anyways. The report made clear that the survey was not meant to ask service members how they felt about repeal of DADT, but their feelings about the policy could be deduced anyways:

To be clear, the Service member survey did not ask the broad question whether Don't Ask, Don't Tell should be repealed. This would, in effect, have been a referendum, and it is not the Department of Defense's practice to make military policy decisions by a referendum of Service members. But, among the 103 questions in the Service member survey and the 44 questions in the spouse survey were numerous opportunities to express, in one way or another, support for or opposition to repeal of the current policy. Among the 72,000 online inbox submissions were numerous expressions both for and against the current policy. If the impact of repeal was predominately negative, that would have revealed itself in the course of our review. [DADT Working Group Report, 11/30/10]

Donnelly Falsely Claims DADT Repeal Was Rushed Through Congress Without Hearings

From the February 10 CPAC event, "How Political Correctness is Harming America's Military":

DONNELLY: The bill that pass December in the lame duck session -- rushed through recklessly -- will implement and enforce the LGBT law if, now this is a meaningless "if," the President, Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs certify there will be no problems. And then 60 days after that it goes into effect. Well guess what, there's going to be a lot of problems. But the Congress has yet to have hearings on this, on the House side, on this.

The Pentagon Report Was Called One Of The Most "Comprehensive" Reviews Ever Undertaken By The Military. Contrary to Donnelly's suggestion that the repeal was "rushed through, recklessly," Army General Carter Ham praised the Pentagon's DADT report, saying "We believe this to have been the largest, most comprehensive review of a personnel policy matter which the Department of Defense has ever undertaken." [Defense.gov, 11/30/10]

The House Reviewed And Debated DADT Years Before Repeal. The House was holding hearings on DADT as early as July of 2008, over two years prior to the policy's repeal. Hearings were also held in the House Armed Services Committee in February of 2010. [Time, 6/23/08; The Washington Post, 2/24/10]

Donnelly Falsely Suggests No "Military Necessity" Exists For Repeal Of DADT

DONNELLY: The Military leads the way for social change. It always has. Back in 1948 when President Truman signed the executive order ending segregation, he did it for two reasons. The number one reason was military necessity. Yes it had an equal opportunity component to it but, that doctrine was actually fully implemented by President Eisenhower. The doctrine was that segregation is a problem, it hurts the military, it's irrational. When women came into the military in great numbers, certainly starting in the 1970s and right through the present day, again, we need women in the military. This is a military necessity. [CPAC 2011 via Equality Matters4/10/11]

Studies Have Demonstrated That Maintaining DADT Tell Placed A Major Cost On Military Effectiveness. On January 20, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report headlined "Personal and Cost Data Associated With Implementing DOD's Homosexual Conduct Policy." The report found:

According to GAO's analysis of Defense Manpower Data Center data, 3,664 servicemembers were separated under DOD's homosexual conduct policy from fiscal years 2004 through 2009. Of the 3,664 separations, 1,458 of these separated servicemembers held a critical occupation or an important foreign language skill as determined by GAO and the services. More specifically, 1,442 (39 percent) of the servicemembers separated under the policy held critical occupations, such as infantryman and security forces, while 23 (less than 1 percent) of the servicemembers held skills in an important foreign language, such as Arabic or Spanish. Seven separated servicemembers held both a critical occupation and an important foreign language skill. However, the number of separated servicemembers with critical occupations could be an underestimation because of a number of factors. For example, the Air Force provided the occupations eligible for enlistment bonuses from fiscal years 2006 through 2009, but could not provide this information for fiscal years 2004 and 2005 because the Air Force's data were incomplete. [Government Accountability Office, 01/2011, emphasis added]

&mdash C.M.

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