One of the biggest and most consequential conservative failures in recent times
As I read over the homosexual exclusion law that the Democratic-led Congress passed by veto-proof majorities in 1993, with its realistic, logical, no-nonsense treatment of the problem of homosexual conduct in the armed services, I am again absolutely astonished that in the period leading up to the Senate vote for the repeal of that law on December 18, 2010, the entire conservative movement treated this issue as “opposing the repeal of Congress’ Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law” (a law that never existed!), rather than as “preserving Congress law excluding homosexuals from the military,” and that conservatives did not mount a much more energetic campaign than the one they did mount in order to preserve that exclusion. Surely some people in the conservative movement other than Elaine Donnelly were aware that what was at stake was not Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, but the exclusion of homosexuals. Where were they? And how could anyone expect conservatives to be passionate about preserving Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, when that measure was itself a halfway step from exclusion of homosexuals to inclusion? Why did conservatives allow the false liberal characterization of the issue, “DADT repeal,” to stand unchallenged, and, indeed, employ that same false label themselves? Were they already so co-opted on the issue, so liberalized, that they were no longer willing to defend outright exclusion (passed by a Democratic House and Senate in 1993), but only the liberal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell measure?
Personally, I had not been following the issue that closely. I had seen articles indicating that there was very little chance that the Democrats would be able to pass this. I only became aware in the last few days before the vote that there was a serious chance this could pass. It seems that the conservative movement was, at best, like me, complacent or asleep at the switch, and, at worst, unwilling to fight.