Since 1993, the Center for Military Readiness has been fighting to keep gay men and lesbians from infiltrating the United States military. So now that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has been repealed, what’s next for the group that fought so hard to prevent the open service of gay and lesbian members of the armed forces?
They have no big plans yet, Elaine Donnelly, founder and President of the Center for Military Readiness, told TPM in an interview Monday.“I’m not prepared to say yet, it’s too soon to say because the new Congress has not yet come in,” Donnelly told me. “The options before the Congress have yet to be sorted out. One thing I will say — CMR will continue to support the troops, and our mission has always been to advocate high standards on a variety of issues, and that will not change.”
But she’s not ready to give up on the DADT battle either.
“The misunderstandings caused by Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell were exploited very skillfully by those who were trying to repeal the law, but they never talked about what they were trying to do which is to impose an agenda which is quite radical on the Armed Forces,” Donnelly said. “It’s not been a proud chapter in the history of the U.S. Senate.”
Donnelly said the repeal was done in haste without the hearings that were promised. She also said the repeal would impose a “new gender order” in the military that “means that others will have to get used to the idea of being exposed to people who may be sexually attracted to them.” Notably, both straight men and women already openly serve alongside one another in the military.
[TPM SLIDESHOW: It’s Over: Senate Repeals Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell]
“Many groups are not eligible to serve in the Armed Forces. There is no constitutional right to serve in the Armed Forces,” Donnelly said. “The law would still be standing today were it not for the Senators who went back on their word.”
“There is nothing in [the military’s report on DADT] that points to anything beneficial for the Armed Forces that would come from this repeal,” Donnelly said.
Donnelly also didn’t think much of Rep. Barney Frank’s smackdown of a reporter with the conservative CNS News over gay and straight soldiers showering together.
“This is the same man who said that Fannie and Freddie were sound and there would be no problems,” Donnelly said.
Showers are “huge issue,” Donnelly said. “To pretend that throwing up a few shower curtains solves the problem is tantamount, again, to saying, well women should share close quarters with men, we’ll throw up a few shower curtains and that will take care of it.”
“I don’t know about the gyms where you go or most people go, but the gyms that I’ve seen have a sign inside the door, and the door says inside the women’s locker room ‘no boys of any age are allowed.’ Now there’s a reason for that,” Donnelley said. “It in no way is a negative reflection on anybody, it is just a sign of respect for modesty in sexual manners.”
“Knowingly, you don’t expose yourself to somebody who might be sexually attracted to you. Does it happen unknowingly? Sure,” Donnelly said. “It’s something that again, when you introduce an element of sexuality in an environment that previously did not have that, that is problematic. There will be consequences from that, because people are normal, they’re humans, they’re sensitive to that.”
“It’s time to start talking about where we’re going now. It’s not just a matter of repealing a policy that should have been eliminated a long time ago, it’s a matter of where are we going from here,” Donnelly said.
Donnelly said her group has seen a jump in support for her organization this year in the lead up to the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
“We were able to raise money to do things we haven’t done before. We had a full page ad in Roll Call just before the vote in September.” They were far outspent by the opposition, Donnelley said.
She also said that her organization had “won this thing, twice,” both in September and December, in reference to the earlier votes on the issue in the Senate that failed to gain cloture.