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The dire (and false) predictions of opponents of DADT repeal – will the homophobes be held accountable?

2009’s Unfriendly Fire: How the Gay Ban Undermines the Military and Weakens America, by Dr. Nathaniel Frank, provided an eye-opening look at the ban on gays and lesbians in the military known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Frank drew on hundreds interviews with government officials, military leaders, policymakers and those serving under the ban, recounted how the now-repealed policy was originally implemented, and the costs — financial and human — that this policy took on our military.

Frank has now published a report, Accountability And DADT: A Framework for Assessing Predictions of Disruption Caused by Openly Gay Military Service that takes a look at 60 of the main predictions of disruption that would allegedly result from openly gay service, and the names of the people who made them — you know, the “usual suspects” of hysteria on the right. Nathaniel Frank noted to the Blend:

“Opponents of equality always claim it will disrupt society; almost always, it doesn’t. If this holds true for ending DADT, will the naysayers have the courage to say, ‘I was wrong’?”

Accountability is critical, as equality opponents are trying the same trick with marriage equality—insisting that equal treatment will disrupt society, as the right wing always does, yet the disruptions never come to pass. If we don’t hold people accountable, they’re more likely to get away with it again.”

At Huffington Post, Frank has a piece up “Will Defenders of DADT Stand By Their Dire Predictions?” that shines a light on the bigots responsible for the naysaying and anti-gay hysterical propaganda:

During the years I spent researching and writing about “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” I frequently pointed out that when other countries lifted their bans, nothing bad happened. But people weren’t convinced that the same would hold true here. As my colleague Aaron Belkin has theorized, in the U.S., fear and anxiety about change had swelled into full-blown paranoia. And this sentiment was being exploited and inflamed by political opportunists. There is even firsthand evidence that military and cultural leaders exaggerated the threat to unit cohesion throughout the debate over “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” in an effort to give credibility to what was, at bottom, simple prejudice.

This is why assessing the ultimate impact of ending “Don’t Ask, Don’ Tell” matters. And it matters enormously. Throughout our history, opponents of equal treatment have insisted that it would wreak havoc on society, indeed that it would cause such grave disruptions that equality was an unacceptable threat to civilization. This “disruption” theory was wielded against African Americans, immigrants, women, gays and lesbians, and transgender people, to name a few. It is perhaps the sharpest tool in the arsenal of people who refuse to rise above passions and prejudice, but who know that they can’t win their argument using religious and moral dogma alone. So they deploy arguments that sound secular and pragmatic — equality will somehow harm kids, undermine the family, destroy civilization — to mask what really amounts to feelings of discomfort, resentment or simple opposition to sharing first-class citizenship.

The “disruption” theory was exactly what was applied — and finally defeated — in the effort to keep gay people from serving openly in uniform. For years, we heard that lifting the ban would undermine cohesion, spur a mass exodus of troops from service, hurt military families, and actually cost lives, that it would disrupt our defenses, weaken our country, and threaten civilization. Yet the ban ended three months ago, with little fanfare. Were all the naysayers wrong? Have any of them been held accountable? And will opponents of equality going forward get away with using the same “disruption” theory to convince policymakers to oppose full equality for LGBT and other Americans?

Because that’s what they’re trying. We hear that letting gay couples marry will disrupt the social fabric of American life, undermine marriage, kill a “culture of life,” dry up the Western population, and threaten our civilization. If this is what was said about gay people serving openly (which it was), and if none of it happened, then the lesson is monumental: a culture of anxiety has become a politics of paranoia, which has pulled the wool over our collective eyes in service to maintaining an unjust status quo. Will we let it happen again and again and again? Will anyone be held accountable for steering us so terribly wrong?

The juicy quotes from some of the more colorful opponents of repeal are below the fold.

Some of the Predictions of Harm and Disruption Resulting from Openly Gay Military Service
(from the report, “Accountability and DADT“)

“[Lifting the ban] may even prove decisive to the viability of the all-volunteer force. That viability may, in turn, determine our ability to avoid in the years ahead—as we have for the past four decades—a return to conscription to meet our requirements for warriors in those conflicts.”
– Frank Gaffney, Jr., Center for Security Policy, 2011

“I hope that when we pass this legislation that we will understand that we are doing great damage, and we could possibly and probably—as the commandant of the Marine Corps said and I’ve been told by literally thousands of members of the military—harm the battle effectiveness, which is so vital to the support, to the survival of our young men and women in the military.”
– Sen. John McCain, 2010

“[Surveys suggest that if the ban is lifted, a minimum of] 24,000 current members of the armed forces might be lost over and above normal discharge attrition in a one-to-three year period… Because these personnel would be completing one or more terms of service, they would, in fact, represent a hemorrhage of mature, skilled losses from the professional ranks.  This is an enormous risk to the viability of our armed forces.”
— General Carl Mundy, former Commandant of the Marine Corps, 2010, in a letter addressing Congress

“When your life hangs on the line, you don’t want anything distracting… Mistakes and inattention or distractions cost Marines’ lives… Assimilating openly homosexual Marines into the tightly woven fabric of our combat units has strong potential for disruption at the small unit level.”
— General James Amos, Commandant of the Marine Corps, 2010, discussing his reasons for opposing openly gay service

If the law is overturned and open homosexuals are welcomed into the military, the number of homosexuals in the armed forces can only increase—leading to a corresponding increase in same-sex sexual assaults.”
— Peter Sprigg, Family Research Council, 2010

“What if [proponents of lifting the ban] are wrong? Is there any way to find out without taking a real risk with national security? Are the advocates of gays in the military prepared to say, fiat justitia, ruat caelum [‘Let justice be done, though the sky may fall’]? And if so, do the rest of us, the majority of gays and straights alike who would prefer not to take such a risk with our lives, property, and freedom, have any say in the matter?”
— James Bowman, Ethics and Public Policy Center, 2009

“The core values of the military profession would be seen by many to have changed fundamentally if homosexuals were allowed to serve. This would undermine institutional loyalty and the moral basis for service, sacrifice, and commitment.”
— Military Working Group on homosexuality in the military, 1993 (the military’s official 1993 report on ending LGB exclusion)

“[Openly gay service would be] prejudicial to good order and discipline.”
— General Colin Powell, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, 1992

The outrageous homophobe Peter Sprigg, even went on Hardball to declare that “Gay Sex Should Be Banned.” I doubt he’s changed his position on that matter, but will he ever admit that repeal of DADT has not caused the military to fall apart?

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding