The Advocate: Mr. President, you're on the verge of signing legislation that is arguably one of the greatest advances for LGBT civil rights. What does it mean to you personally? And if you were to put it on a continuum of your accomplishments as president, where do you think it will rank in the history books?
President Barack Obama: I am incredibly proud. And part of the reason I'm proud is because this is the culmination of a strategy that began the first week I was in office. When I met with Bob Gates and I met with Admiral Mullen, I said to them I have a job as commander-in-chief in making sure that we have the best military in the world and that we're taking care of our folks who make such enormous sacrifices for our safety. I also have an obligation as president to make sure that all Americans have the capacity to serve, and I think "don't ask, don't tell" is wrong. So I want you guys to understand that I want to work with the Pentagon, I want to figure out how to do this right, but I intend to have this policy.
And to have been able to work through all the complications of that, arrive at a point where the secretary of Defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, both of whom were appointed under Republican presidents, were willing to publicly testify and advocate for this repeal; to have engineered an attitudinal study that vindicated my strong belief that people in the military care about how somebody does their job, not their sexual orientation...
Did you anticipate that that survey would turn out like that?
I was confident about it because I talked to enough troops and I had a sense of the innate fairness of the American people when it comes to an issue like should people be able to serve their military and potentially die for their country, that military attitudes were not going to be wildly divergent from public attitudes. And then to see how that combination of Gates, Mullen, [and] the study break the logjam and essentially provide the space for people of goodwill of both parties to do the right thing was just really gratifying.
And things don't always go according to your plans, and so when they do--especially in this town--it's pleasantly surprising. And when I think about the troops who I know are impacted by this--I visited Afghanistan just a few weeks ago. And while I was doing the rope line, a young woman in uniform was shaking my hand--it was a big crowd--she hugged me and she whispered in my ear, "Get 'don't ask, don't tell' done." And I said to her, "I promise you I will." And for me to be able to deliver that Christmas present to her and so many others is incredibly gratifying.
So I would say, look... we've done a lot this year and we did a lot the previous year, and so obviously saving the economy from depression, getting health care passed, and getting financial regulatory reform are all things that I'm very proud of. But this is one of those issues where you know individual people directly that are going to be impacted and you know it helps shift attitudes in a direction of greater fairness over the long term. I think when people look back 20 years from now they'll say this was one of the more important things that I've gotten done since I've been president.
Daily Caller columnist Darin Selnick is not happy about the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. After some pro forma lying about the public's attitudes towards DADT repeal ("Democrats once again imposed their left-wing San Francisco values on America … it is about jamming the Democrats' left-wing, radical social agenda down the throats of the American people") Selnick gets around to his point: Attempting to rally social conservatives to fight for the repeal of the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell:
Social conservatives know that the military is the last line of defense in the culture war and if it falls, so does the rest of the country.
Social conservatives are already fighting back. Virginia Delegate Bob Marshall is in the process of drafting a bill for Virginia's 2011 legislative session that would ban gays from serving in the Virginia National Guard. It is only a matter of time before social conservatives begin to fight back against DADT's repeal at the federal level as well. Just as abortion has not gone away, DADT will not go away and will be a rallying cry as social conservatives draw the line in the sand and finally say enough is enough.
I have no doubt Selnick and a handful of others like him will continue to make similar noises going forward. When they do, it is important for the news media to keep in mind that not only do they represent a small minority of the American people, they represent only a small minority of conservative Republicans and white evangelicals, as well. There's no reason to treat them like serious leaders of a large movement, because they just aren't. (I'm talking to you, Washington Post.)
The conservative Media Research Center-owned website CNSNews.com has a habit of springing loaded questions on members of Congress. For example, it asked Obama administration official John Holdren to explain something he wrote in a book published nearly 40 years ago.
Apparently feeling confident (and sufficiently homophobic), CNS decided to target Rep. Barney Frank with a question about the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell – specifically, whether he thought gay and straight soldiers should shower together. This was based on a statement calling for a ban on separate showers from the Pentagon's report on the impact of repealing DADT that CNS had previously singled out.
Frank saw this coming from a mile away. As CNS reporter Nicholas Ballasy slowly got out the words "shower with homosexuals," Frank let out an exaggerated gasp and responded, "What do you think happens in gyms all over America?" After calling it a "silly issue," Frank added, "What do you think goes wrong with people showering with homosexuals? Do you think it's the spray makes it catching? ... We don't get ourselves dry-cleaned."
Frank then turned the tables on his interviewer by quizzing Ballasy: "I know you're looking for some way to kind of discredit the policy. Do you think that gyms should have separate showers for gay and straight people? I'm asking you the question because that's the logic of what you're telling me. You seem to think that there's something extraordinary about gay men showering together. Do you think gyms should have separate showers for gay people and straight people?" Ballasy wouldn't answer, insisting that he was "just quoting the recommendation." Frank responded: "Don't be disingenuous. You're quoting those you think may cause us some problems. You're entitled to do that, but you shouldn't hide behind your views." Frank again asked the question of Ballasy, who again wouldn't answer, trying to change the subject: "So that's the question you would pose to people who have an issue with that part of the report, the recommendation?" Frank made his point one more time, and that's where the CNS ends the video.
The CNS article on Ballasy's gotcha interview ignores how Frank saw through his tactics, instead playing up the irrelevant point that Frank opposes opposite-sex soliders showering together. But give credit to CNS for posting the video of Frank using its reporter's gotcha tactics against him -- and thus providing other politicians with a how-to manual for the next time CNS pops up out of nowhere to fire a loaded question.
From the December 21 edition of Premiere Radio Network's The Rush Limbaugh Show:
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Nothing sets Pat Buchanan off like the repeal of institutionalized bigotry. Of course, Pat Buchanan reacting angrily to the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell isn't exactly surprising: If you've heard of Buchanan, you're probably aware of his intense dislike for just about everybody who isn't exactly like him. No, what's really striking about Buchanan's latest screed is just how out of touch he is with the world around him: From public opinion to the role of Congress, he just has no idea what he's talking about.
A Democratic Congress, discharged by the voters on Nov. 2, has as one of its last official acts, imposed its San Francisco values on the armed forces of the United States.
Why are we undertaking this social experiment with the finest military on earth? Does justice demand it? Was there a national clamor for it?
Poor Pat Buchanan, too blinded by his hate to realize than those "San Francisco values" are American values. Not just because "all men are created equal" has been articulated (if not always acted upon) as an American value since the Declaration of Independence, but because the overwhelming majority of Americans -- 77 percent -- agree that gays should be able to serve openly in the military. "Clamor" is, I suppose, a subjective term -- but yes, DADT repeal reflects the will of the people.
(Buchanan doesn't explain his assertion that justice does not demand that gays enjoy equal treatment under the law.)
Buchanan lashes out at Congress for doing its job:
The least respected of American institutions, Congress, with an approval rating of 13 percent, is imposing its cultural and moral values on the most respected of American institutions, the U.S. military.
Congress, in concert with the president, is supposed to impose its will on the military. That's one of the things that differentiates America from a military dictatorship. Though I guess you can't expect someone whose claim to fame is having worked for Watergate-era Nixon and Iran-Contra-era Reagan to grasp such concepts. And this business about "imposing cultural and moral values" is a bit much, given that all Congress did was tell the military to stop imposing Pat Buchanan's cultural and moral values.
Buchanan favors a misguided and overly simplistic decision-making process:
One Marine commandant after another asked Congress to consider the issue from a single standpoint:
Will the admission of gay men into barracks at Pendleton and Parris Island enhance the fighting effectiveness of the Corps?
Buchanan doesn't explain why it is appropriate to assess a discriminatory policy from only that "single standpoint." Plenty of policies governing the military are rightly made even if they do not "enhance the fighting effectiveness of the Corps." The military exists to defend America and its values; it therefore makes little sense to subjugate those values to the military. In any case, the people whose job it is to lead the military favored repeal and think fighting effectiveness will be just fine. Why doesn't Pat Buchanan share their faith in the brave men and women of the United States military?
Buchanan conflates "gays" with "child molesters":
Don't ask, don't tell" is to be repealed. Open homosexuals are to be welcomed with open arms in all branches of the armed services.
Let us hope this works out better for the Marine Corps than it did for the Catholic Church.
The Catholic Church's problem wasn't that it was too hospitable to gays; it was that it (at best) did little to stop child molesters from molesting children. Those two things are quite different.
Did I mention that Pat Buchanan does not like gays? He doesn't:
This is a victory in the culture war for the new morality of the social revolution of the 1960s and a defeat for traditional Judeo-Christian values. For only in secularist ideology is it an article of faith that all sexual relations are morally equal and that to declare homosexual acts immoral is bigotry.
But while this new morality may be orthodoxy among our elites in the academy, media, culture and the arts, Middle America has never signed on and still regards homosexuality as an aberrant lifestyle, both socially and spiritually ruinous.
Buchanan's efforts to speak for "Middle America" are increasingly misguided: He doesn't even speak for the middle of the Republican Party, much less the nation as a whole. Remember how 77 percent of Americans favored DADT repeal? Yeah … so did 70 percent of white evangelicals. And 67 percent of conservative Republicans. There's a reason why Buchanan's assertions of the dominance of anti-gay sentiment don't include any actual numbers: They aren't true anywhere outside of his own mind, where it is always 1952.
The world has turned upside down. What was criminal vice in the 1950s -- homosexuality and abortion -- is not only constitutionally protected, but a mark of social progress.
Buchanan didn't elaborate, but that sounds an awful lot like a complaint that "homosexuality" is no longer "criminal." But remember: He (says he) doesn't like it when Congress imposes "cultural and moral values."
Family Research Council senior fellow Peter Sprigg was on CNN last night -- and quoted in yesterday's Washington Post -- opposing equal rights for gays. Neither news organization adequately explained who Sprigg is, perhaps because doing so would raise serious questions about why it granted him a platform.
Peter Sprigg wants "gay behavior" outlawed and has said he would "much prefer to export homosexuals from the United States than to import them into the United States because we believe that homosexuality is destructive to society." Sprigg's comments played a role in the Southern Poverty Law Center's decision to identify FRC as a "hate group." (Sprigg subsequently apologized for the comment about exporting gays, saying he was guilty of "speaking in a way that did not reflect the standards which the Family Research Council and I embrace" -- but he did not retract the substance of the comment.) The fact that Sprigg is so intolerant of gays is crucial to interpreting his comments on gay rights -- but neither CNN nor the Post offered a hint of the extremity of Sprigg's views.
That's nothing new at the Post, which has previously gone so far as to give Sprigg an unmoderated online Q&A session with its readers. And CNN has frequently hosted Sprigg and quoted him in news reports, presenting him to its audience as an expert on everything from parenting to (completely fictitious) attempts to prevent the celebration of Christmas to military readiness. (Dan Savage has previously criticized CNN for providing a forum for gay-bashers.)
It's hard to imagine CNN or the Washington Post treating, say, David Duke this way. And yet they frequently feature Peter Sprigg as though he's a legitimate, mainstream figure -- and they do so while withholding from their audience information that would make clear that he is not.
The obvious implication of all this is that CNN and the Washington Post are far more comfortable with homophobia than they are with racism or anti-Semitism. I just wish they'd come out and say it.
From the December 21 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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From a December 20 Washington Times op-ed by Robert Knight:
Once again, as in 2008, Sen. John McCain has led conservatives over a cliff. Both defeats were a result of a conscious decision to unilaterally disarm morally and allow spurious claims to go unchallenged.
When an opponent advances by asserting moral authority, it's powerful even when wrong, as just occurred in the Senate vote to overturn the military's ban on homosexuality. The most effective defense is a superior moral offensive. That did not happen.
Instead of using the military debate to bring to light many suppressed facts that could cripple the homosexual juggernaut if Americans only knew, they played by their opponents' rule book.
In "After the Ball," a 1989 gay-strategy manual, two Harvard-trained public relations experts warn that "the public should not be shocked and repelled by premature exposure to homosexual behavior itself. Instead, the imagery of sex per se should be downplayed, and the issue of gay rights reduced, as far as possible, to an abstract social question." Elsewhere, the authors say, "first, you get your foot in the door by being as similar as possible; then and only then ... can you start dragging in your other peculiarities, one by one. You hammer in the wedge narrow end first ... allow the camel's nose beneath your tent, and his whole body will soon follow."
With Democrats and turncoats like Sen. Susan Collins, Maine Republican, and Sen. Scott Brown, Massachusetts Republican, falsely framing military service as a "civil right," the focus remained off behavior and morality. Hapless defenders such as Sen. Saxby Chambliss, Georgia Republican, fell back to saying things like "this is not the time to do this," as if there ever were a good time to turn the U.S. military into a gay mecca with zero tolerance for chaplains and anyone else who disagrees.
Moral arguments against repeal were AWOL during Saturday's cloture debate. All the moral posturing was on the side of repeal.
A more conservative Congress should restore the law. At some point, America's temporary plunge into moral insanity must end, or it will be the end of this self-governing republic that God has blessed so richly - up to now.
Now, Kincaid isn't exactly known for anything remotely resembling journalism; while he has a college degree in it, it's not what he has spent his career practicing. In addition to the above-linked homophobic rants, Kincaid has embraced birtherism, smeared Ted Kennedy by claiming he likely engaged in "a drunken orgy" on the night of the Chappaquiddick incident, and speculated about Hillary Clinton's supposed lesbianism. He's also shown a tendency to ignore facts that conflict with his far-right agenda.
As far as AIM's own respect for journalism is concerned, one need only look to the AIM website's publication of a blog post falsely smearing Obama administration official Kevin Jennings as a "pedophile" who is "teaching 14-year-old boys the dangerous sexual practice of 'fisting.' " AIM had no choice but to delete the post and apologize, but not before spreading even more smears about Jennings.
So, yeah, the idea of Kincaid leading something related to "investigative journalism," and AIM operating it, is pretty much a joke.
It's no secret that the folks over at the Media Research Center don't care for gays. And their flimsy definition of bias and general hatred for journalism are pretty well-known, too. Basically, they're a bunch of clowns.
Still, even by Newsbusters' (low) standards, their petulant whining about media coverage of the repeal of the ban on gays serving openly in the military was a comical blend of bitterness and cluelessness.
First, Newsbuster Brad Wilmouth complained:
As all the broadcast network evening newscasts on Saturday used words like "historic" and "landmark" to describe the Senate vote in favor of repealing the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy on homosexuals serving in the military, the networks also provided substantially more soundbites to supporters of the measure than to those who opposed changing the policy.
Wilmouth never got around to spelling out what is wrong with using "words like 'historic' and 'landmark'" to describe an historic piece of legislation. That's presumably because he realized that he'd get laughed at for writing that a bill legalizing for the first time the open service of gays in the military is not a "landmark." So he just crossed his fingers and hoped readers would share his annoyance at media descriptions of historic legislation as "historic." (It's not the first time a Newsbuster has chosen this strategy.)
Nor did Wilmouth spell out why news reports should provide an equal number of soundbites from supporters and opponents of DADT repeal. Supporters, after all, greatly outnumber opponents. Granted, public opinion shouldn't be the sole factor in deciding how much time to allocate to differing views. But Wilmouth has his work cut out for him if he wants to argue that the news media should grant equal time to advocates of legislatively mandated discrimination. News reports about the end of racial segregation, for example, rarely include equal time for people who think African Americans shouldn't be able to eat at lunch counters -- and few people, if any, see this as evidence of media bias. Of course, Wilmouth doesn't argue that supporters of discriminatory policies deserve equal time. He just asserts it, and hopes his readers assume that he has a good reason for doing so.
Next, Newsbuster Kyle Drennen weighed in, also complaining that advocates of discrimination didn't get equal time without ever spelling out why they deserve it. Drennen went on to display a finely-tuned ability to read nefarious intent into the most benign reporting. Here, he complains about CBS correspondent Whit Johnson:
Johnson dismissed critics of repeal: "Democrats got a boost from a recent Pentagon study in which two-thirds of U.S. troops said changing the controversial law would have little impact, a feeling shared by most of America."
That isn't a dismissal of critics. That's a simple, straightforward statement of fact that doesn't refer to critics in any way -- except by implying that they are in the minority. Which is true.
Drennen then complained that "Both Johnson and [Nancy] Cordes touted the repeal as a win for Democrats." "Touted"? It was a win for Democrats. More Drennen:
On the Early Show, Cordes similarly cheered: "Democrats achieved their longstanding goal of repealing 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' just two weeks before an influx of Republicans in Congress would have made it impossible."
"Cheered"? Nothing in that quote is a "cheer." Nothing. Now, if Cordes had said "Democrats, who are awesome, passed a repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Yaaaaay, Democrats!" -- that would be "cheering." That isn't what Cordes did. She just said what happened.
Now, if you've never read Newsbusters before, you probably think that I'm cherry-picking; that I'm unfairly focusing on Drennen's verb choice while ignoring the substance of his critique. But this nonsense about "touting" and "cheering" and "dismissing" is the substance of his complaint. Take a look.
Something happened on Saturday, and Newsbusters didn't like it. So they stamped their feet over the media reporting it. They didn't demonstrate media bias -- just their own.
Writing at the Daily Caller, wildly disreputable right-wing activist David Bossie issues a stern -- and stupid -- warning about the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Under the headline "The Inevitability of the Draft," Bossie writes that the repeal will come to be seen as "a day of infamy for our military" because now that gay soldiers will no longer have to hide their sexual orientation, Marines are going to abandon the service in droves and the government will have to draft Americans to replace them.
Nearly forty percent of the Marines in the official Department of Defense survey said that they may leave the service early if "don't ask, don't tell" is repealed. Four out of ten! That is a staggering number that could degrade one of the most lethal fighting forces in the world. With our military already stretched to capacity with many of our warriors being asked to sign up for multiple tours of duty, how could the Democrat leadership and some Republicans take this risk? Pushing this legislation during a global war on terror is a dereliction of duty. If forty percent of our Marines do in fact leave the service early, we will have to fill those boots somehow.
And -- wouldn't you know it? -- Bossie's op-ed is paired with a slickly produced and confusingly ominous video about how gay people are to blame for you being drafted, or something. I especially like the disarmingly straightforward slogan: "Be careful what you rally for because Uncle Sam may end up drafting you."
But this is no mere gimmick intended to raise money by capitalizing on lingering fear and resentment of the gay community -- no sir! This is a "serious" issue!
This issue has not been talked about much, but is a serious unintended consequence nonetheless. Statistics indicate that retention and recruitment will be a problem if "don't ask, don't tell" is repealed. We are at war, and war is no time to take a chance with our armed forces just to appease the liberal special interests. Unbelievably, Harry Reid tweeted to Lady Gaga, "We did it," after the repeal was passed. I guess we know now that Reid is beholden to Lady Gaga and not those young Marines on the front lines protecting our freedom.
So yeah, we're all going to be drafted into the Marines because all those gay people had the nerve to demand equal treatment. In the meantime, be afraid, and donate generously to Citizens United, or else Harry Reid and Lady Gaga will conquer us all.
From the December 20 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
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As long as current military leaders disagree about DADT, Congress should not interfere. Our country is engaged in two wars. This policy-reversal has the potential to negatively impact our military. It is simply a case of bad timing.
In the process, Sekulow made clear that if DADT is repealed, he thinks military chaplains should join in his gay-bashing:
If DADT is repealed, the American Center for Law & Justice is committed to advocating for the ability of military chaplains to do their job according to the dictates of their faith. The ACLJ has a long history of defending military chaplains.
While that paragraph may seem innocuous, Sekulow also linked back to a previous post in which he made clear that he believes the "dictates of their faith" include declaring gays an "abomination" and "shameful."
But now, perhaps recognizing that 70 percent of white evangelicals disagree with him, the Post's new Religious Right Now blogger has changed his tune on Don't Ask, Don't Tell:
No DADT, no problem
The outdated, unworkable "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law will likely be repealed in the next few days. As a Christian conservative broadcaster, attorney, and activist who recently discussed DADT and my opinion about it on-air, I can say that for the most part, social conservatives are not enraged about the end of DADT. In fact, the grassroots has not been engaged on this issue for a long time.
I wrote about this previously for On Faith, arguing that DADT does not violate the Constitution and could be defended in court. But after much public debate and a repeal imminent, it has become clear that there is no reason for DADT; there are more important issues.
Even more striking: Rather than repeat his implication that military chaplains should continue to denounce gay service members, Sekulow adopts a far more conciliatory tone:
Close bonds form in the military. How can we expect people serving long tours of duty and fighting two wars to act as if their personal life at home does not exist when talking to their co-defenders of freedom? If you're concerned about problems developing, remember that the military has strict rules on troop relationships and harassment. Those rules won't disappear with the repeal of DADT.
We live in a new time. As a young member of the "religious right," if a gay friend or family member came to me and said they wanted to join the military, I would gladly be the first to congratulate and thank them. I do not believe they should be barred from serving because of their sexual orientation.
When even Jordan Sekulow is praising the repeal of DADT, you know the times are a-changing -- which makes the Washington Post's hospitality to an endless parade of anti-gay bigots all the more bizarre.
From the December 20 edition of Premiere Radio Network's The Rush Limbaugh Show:
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From the December 20 edition of Premiere Radio Network's The Rush Limbaugh Show:
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