Last week, the Department of Defense released the long-awaited report on the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Finally, the report Sen. John McCain has waited all year for has arrived. You see, a long, long time ago, on a planet much like our own, Sen. McCain was actually a very tolerant man, an independent thinker — a maverick, if you will. In Iowa, at a forum with voters in 2007, McCain made this statement:
I listen to people like Gen. Colin Powell, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and literally every military leader that I know. And they testified before Congress that they felt the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy was the most appropriate way to conduct ourselves in the military. A policy that has been effective. It has worked. …But the day that the leadership of the military comes to me and says, ‘Senator, we ought to change the policy,’ then I think we ought to consider seriously changing it because those leaders in the military are the ones we give the responsibility to.
Good news! The former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Powell, and the current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates have all thrown their support in repealing DADT, based on the findings in the Report of the Comprehensive Review of the Issues Associated with a Repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.
So this should be the end of the discussion, right? After a year of hearings, a 266-page comprehensive report and the full support of our military leaders, I was hoping for a slam dunk — a little song for Christmas, sung to the melody of “Let It Snow”:
Let ’em serve, let ’em serve, let ’em serve!
But no, apparently all this effort was not been enough for the old senator from the Grand Canyon state, and not nearly enough to bring DADT to the Senate floor for a simple up-or-down vote.
Having spent a few hours this weekend reading the report (it’s actually a very compelling read), there is no question that this policy is a nonissue — that the sexuality of soldiers across the board in all areas of the military could not be farther from the minds of the troops and their spouses. If you have some time, Section VI, called “What We Heard,” is especially illuminating. Those standing against repeal are clearly homophobic. One serviceman is quoted as saying (page 54):
They should just sustain the standard. I don’t like flamboyant queers.
Because we all know as soon as DADT is repealed, it’ll be like the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade — every day! Break out the gowns, men!
Another telling comment compares homosexuality to drug abuse and adultery (page 52):
…homosexuality is morally offensive. Like adultery, and drug use, I can not tolerate homosexuality. I will not work side by side with someone that is an adulterer, a drug addict, or a homosexual.
I would bet my next year’s income that the person who gave that statement has already, and unknowingly, worked alongside a gay soldier and even an adulterer.
The comments showed me that the ignorance in these and other remarks might be what McCain has focused on. This is the 20 to 30 percent of soldiers who don’t believe gay soldiers have the ability to keep their hands to themselves — that they’re sinners condemned to burn in hell. A few pages further on, the voice of reason and tolerance made themselves heard, too. Some comments were in this vein (page 58):
What does it matter if they can do the job if you are gay or straight?
And this statement (same page) really said it all:
Gays and lesbians have been serving in the Armed Forces since the inception of our country. They love this country just as much as heterosexuals. They have been ‘outed’ while serving, humiliated in front of their peers, beaten up and given dishonorable discharges in the past (and even present day). This must end. This is NOT what our country is about.
The pages of quotes in favor of repeal far exceed the few from those who believe anyone different from themselves is a degenerate sinner, someone only serving in the military to play a little soldier grab-ass.
So, what gives, Sen. McCain? First, you shut down your wife’s public support of repeal. Now the report you requested isn’t enough. Is it because the findings weren’t what you wanted to hear? Is it because the findings actually make an easy case for repeal, therefore giving President Obama a victory? Is it because you’re a complete homophobe and therefore a coward? What is it? Because your reasons for not accepting the report are complete nonsense. You claim the troops weren’t asked directly if they want DADT repealed. As Admiral Mullen made quite clear when he ripped into you, since when are troops asked their opinion on official policy? Are you next going to ask them if they want to go to war for 15 months? Or where they prefer to work?
McCain also complained that the report is flawed because it didn’t include everyone serving everywhere. Just in case you didn’t read the Executive Summary, the survey solicited the views of nearly 400,000 active duty and reserve service members with an extensive, professionally-developed survey that prompted 115,052 responses — one of the largest surveys in the history of the U.S. military. Oh, and it also included 150,000 spouses; solicited and received the views of foreign allies, veterans groups, and groups for and against repeal of the current law and policy; secretaries of the Army, Navy, Air Force and the Chiefs of each service; solicited and received the views of members of Congress; and conducted 95 face-to-face “information exchange forums” at 51 bases and installations around the world, where we interacted with over 24,000 service members. But that’s not enough for Sen. McCain.
We’re now side by side with United Arab Emirates — one of eight countries out of 43 NATO and ISAF partner nations — that don;t allow gays and lesbians to serve openly in their military. So we have that in common — and our love of oil and flowing white dresses! (That sounds a little gay…)
There were also concerns about being in close proximity to a gay person and to sexual harassment and unwanted advances. Seriously? According to a New York Times article from last March, there were 3,230 reports of sexual assault filed involving service members as victims or assailants during the fiscal year ending in September 2009. That’s more than 3,000 man-on-woman assaults recorded — double that number if you want a real total. As for homosexual-on-straight-people assaults, I couldn’t find any reports or articles that give any specific information. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen; there are jerks everywhere. Yet it seems clear that sexual harassment remains is the clear purview of straight men against women.
So, Sen. McCain, let me sum it up for you, from page 121 of the report:
Overall, in response to a variety of questions, 50-55% of the force indicated that repeal will have a mixed or no effect; about 15-20% believe that repeal will have a positive effect, while another 30% believe it will have a negative effect.
That’s 65 to 75 percent of respondents saying “Who cares?”
Sen. McCain, man up. Get over your bitter loss to Obama. Don’t make me think you’re turning into a golem with your hate and rage. You’ve shown in recent days your cold black heart is smaller than The Grinch’s. And it’s very possible that, unlike The Grinch, you’re completely irredeemable.
Elizabeth Burke, a New York-based actor, has been involved in politics since her first campaign at age 16. Burke’s Law does not necessarily represent the views of The Clyde Fitch Report.