Tony Perkins Claims Lifting DADT Would Harm Unit Cohesion

Media Matters asks the right question about Tony Perkins and his buddy Peter Sprigg from the Family Research Council -- Why are the media hosting anti
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Media Matters asks the right question about Tony Perkins and his buddy Peter Sprigg from the Family Research Council -- Why are the media hosting anti-gay bigots to comment on DADT?:

Media have turned to conservatives with histories of making bigoted, anti-gay remarks to comment on Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mike Mullen's February 2 testimony on repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT). Those commentators include Family Research Council (FRC) president Tony Perkins, who had claimed that the "real issue" regarding the scandal involving former Rep. Mark Foley's (R-FL) interactions with congressional pages is the purported "link between homosexuality and child sexual abuse," and FRC senior fellow Peter Sprigg, who once said that he preferred to "export homosexuals" rather than "import them."

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Perkins repeatedly cites unit cohesion canard on CNN. In a February 2 appearances on CNN Newsroom and CNN's Larry King Live, Perkins repeated the talking point that repealing DADT would undermine unit cohesion.

Studies indicate that decisions to lift gay bans in other countries and allow open service have not undermined "morale or unit cohesion." In an award-winning essay published in the fourth quarter 2009 issue of Joint Force Quarterly -- which is "published for the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, by the Institute for National Strategic Studies, National Defense University" -- Col. Om Prakash writes of DADT that "the stated premise of the law -- to protect unit cohesion and combat effectiveness -- is not supported by any scientific studies." Indeed, as Media Matters for America has documented, at least 25 nations - including more than a dozen North America Treaty Organization member countries - allow openly gay people to serve in their armed forced. Multiple studies of the impact of the decisions to lift bans on gays and lesbians serving openly in those countries have indicated that, in the words of one General Accounting Office report, "the inclusion of homosexuals in their militaries has not adversely affected unit readiness, effectiveness, cohesion, or morale." Read on...

Transcript below the fold via CNN.

KING: Lieutenant Choi, why, in your opinion, are they no longer valid?

LT. DAN CHOI: Well, I think when we are in a time of war and for those who are currently serving in the counter- insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan, we learn a very important lesson -- we need every skilled soldier we can get. Any good leader that's serving right now will tell you that. And to kick out Arabic and Farsi linguists in a time of war, I think -- especially those who refuse to lie about who they are or refuse to lie about who they love, I think that's an absolute mistake.

KING: Tony Perkins, you will admit that there are crosses and Jewish stars at Normandy and other battlefields that -- that, symbolically, there are gay soldiers buried there?

TONY PERKINS: It's not a question...

KING: Doesn't that tell you something about their desire to serve their country?

PERKINS: It's not a question of whether or not they have a desire to serve nor is it a question whether they can serve. They certainly can serve in the military today. It's a question of the behavior of those who identify themselves as homosexual.

I think the question, Larry, has been and raised, is what has changed since 1993, when this policy was implemented by the Clinton administration?

We've had 14 Congressional hearings since then, all coming to the same conclusion -- that this would undermine unit cohesion and military readiness.

And so even -- even the -- the Democratic chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Ike Skelton, says he's opposed to changing this policy. There's members of the Joint Chief -- Chiefs that are opposed to being -- to changing this policy.

KING: Well, what...

PERKINS: So it's not a foregone conclusion that this is going to be changed.

KING: What is the fear, that the gay person will come on to a straight person or the straight person will be embarrassed to take -- what's the fear?

PERKINS: Well, I think we've seen the same thing when we -- we have to be very careful with how we integrate the sexes in the military, and I think a lot of people don't understand, present company excepted here, but the military is a different environment. There is very few occasions where you're living in the same room and showering with 80 men. Having been an enlisted man in the Marine Corps, there is no privacy. Officers have a little more privacy than enlisted men.

So especially when you're in training situations, where you have an individual that has the power, really, of life and death, in some circumstances, over individuals, there can be a lot of coercion. And this can be a very dangerous situation and very intimidating situation. It's just not healthy for the well-being of the military.

KING: General Clark, how do you respond to that?

CLARK: I think the standard is exactly what Tony suggested it should be, is don't misbehave. But, unfortunately, that's not what the Don't Ask, Don't Tell rule is about. It's about witch hunts, It's about tattle-tales. It's about a lot of pressure to cover things up, and not be seen, and not know who you are. So I think the standard ought to be, don't misbehave.

There is a lot of coercion in training. There's no doubt about it. It happens between men. It happens between men and women. It happens between men and men. And it happens between women and women. That's what it is when someone has power over someone else. It's not tolerated to misbehave in the civilian community, and it shouldn't be tolerated in the military. And that should be the end of it. People should be entitled to be who they are. And the standard is don't misbehave.

KING: We'll ask Lieutenant Colonel Maginnis why it shouldn't be based just on behavior right after this.

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