The Human Rights Campaign today rebuked comments made by presidential aspirant Tim Pawlenty that he would reinstate “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” if elected president. It is unclear, based upon an interview he granted to the American Family Association, whether Pawlenty understands the potentially dangerous ramifications of his comments. The AFA, which has been listed as a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, equated homosexuality with murder in a recent fundraising appeal.
Given the fact that the integration of gays and lesbians into our fighting forces will take place soon, Pawlenty’s proposed reversal would undoubtedly cause unnecessary chaos by giving conflicting orders to our service members. Pawlenty did not explain what he thinks should happen to gay and lesbian troops, including those that are expected to re-enlist or come out as gay or lesbian once the change has been certified. He also did not offer any thoughts on the large financial costs of dealing with his misguided initiative or the deleterious impacts it would have on force morale.
“Either Tim Pawlenty doesn’t understand the importance of his words or worse, he really wants to harm our military. I don’t know which is worse,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “Either way, he’s clearly proven that he’s not ready to lead our fighting men and women as Commander-in-Chief. He needs to think twice next time before making irresponsible comments like these.”
Every study on the integration of gays and lesbians into military forces around the world has included two consistent themes: it should be done quickly and with the support of the military leadership. It comes as no surprise then that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Joints Chiefs Chairman Admiral Michael Mullen are moving quickly to implement repeal and that all of the military chiefs, no matter their personal positions on the issue, are now behind its successful implementation. Even Senator John McCain, the leading opponent of DADT repeal, recently said that he would do whatever was necessary to make sure the new policy of open service succeeded.
“Pawlenty’s remarks were irresponsible and dangerous. As someone that aspires to be Commander-in-Chief, he should be held to a higher standard. Now that repeal is being implemented, all of our leaders, no matter their personal opinions, should be doing everything they can to ensure successful implementation of repeal. It’s about the success of our military, not politics.”