On July 22nd, President Obama signed the certification for repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT). After a sixty day waiting period has passed, DADT will no longer be enforced after September 20th. Unfortunately, the end of DADT does not necessarily mean that LGBT servicemembers will be free from discrimination. According to the Advocate, gay and lesbian servicemembers will not have access to the same benefits as heterosexual servicemembers due to the controversial Defense of Marriage Act. Nevertheless, the end of DADT is another step toward LGBT equality, allowing gay, lesbian, and bisexual soldiers to serve openly in the military.
Family Research Council president Tony Perkins is NOT happy about this.
In a July 22nd press release, Perkins claimed that President Obama and military leaders have no basis for reversing DADT, other than alleged "liberal political correctness." He claims that such "social engineering" would negatively impact military recruiting, retention, and unit cohesion, urging Congress to resist DADT repeal. The rights of LGBT servicemembers and the skills they bring to the military were not considered, having been trivialized as "political correctness" and "social engineering." (To read the press release, visit www[dot]frc[dot]org/newsroom/frc-criticizes-certification-to-repeal-military-law-on-homosexuality)
Anticipating the repeal of DADT, Perkins invited Rep. Allen West (R-Florida) and retired Gen. Benjamin Mixon to discuss the supposed harm of repeal on the June 17th edition of the FRC Washington Watch radio show. Perkins complained that repeal would "force" homosexuality upon the U.S. military, and at the 6:20 mark, he alleged that "While overturning this prohibition may win President Obama points with a portion of his political base, it is not a win for military readiness." What Perkins overlooks is that LGBT people have already been serving in the military, but have been forced to keep their sexual orientation secret for fear of reprisal. (To listen to the show, visit www[dot]frc[dot]org/get.cfm?c=RADIO)
Progress marches on. What Religious Right leaders such as Perkins may not realize is that society is slowly coming to accept the LGBT community. While that acceptance is by no means complete, and while homophobia still taints parts of society, slow and steady gains for LGBT rights will continue. Rhetoric about "political correctness" and "social engineering" may resonate with right-wing listeners, but it will fail to convince a populace that is growing more open-minded every day.