While it’s clear that there’s a national security cost to the Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell (DADT) ban on gays serving opening it the military, I’m not sure I agree with the folks at the Palm Center (which has done a lot of good work exposing the folly of this policy) that there is also a political cost to repealing this Clinton-era law.
Dr. Nathaniel Frank, senior researcher at the Palm Center and author of Unfriendly Fire: How the Gay Ban Undermines the Military and Weakens America, believes President Obama
. . . apparently took the wrong lessons from the 1990s fallout with gays in the military, believing that Bill Clinton’s error was moving too quickly. In fact, it was not Clinton’s speed, but his delay, and the appearance of a weakened resolve, that allowed his opponents to rally and defeat him. . . . With the firing of First Lieutenant Dan Choi, the costs of the gay ban delay are beginning to register with the public and the media.
While I agree that the firing of Lt. Choi hurts the military, I don’t yet see a public fallout over his dismissal. Maybe if more people were aware of his skills and his record, they might see the folly of DADT. To that end, I comment MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow for inviting Choi on her program last night. It would be nice if other media would similarly feature this honorable American.
The more people see this man and hear his story, the more they will question the wisdom of DADT and the easier they will make it for their representatives and the President to act to repeal the ban.
That said, I disagree with Frank’s contention that there is a political cost to delaying repeal of DADT. I just don’t think this issue registers with all that many voters. And that is unfortunate. Those who support repeal and lean left won’t desert the Democrats for not acting.
The main issue is to give politicians cover for acting. And to do that, we need show why the ban is not in the national security interest of the United States. By removing a man like Lieut. Choi, with a distinguished record and skills needed to confront the forces of radical Islam (he’s fluent in Arabic), the policy deprives us of a service member who can serve our nation in an hour of need.
His dismissal helps better make the case why the ban is not in the national security interest of the United States. And that’s how we need frame the case for repeal. That notion will resonate with pro-military conservatives wary of supporting an item high on the agenda of the various left-leaning gay organizations.
Repealing the ban is not just a gay issue; it’s a national security issue.