Ron Paul Would Change Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (But How?)

Hat tip to reader Alexia on this.  While holding court at google(you’ll have to go forward to about 6:09 PM in the stream), Ron Paul stated he would change the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy.  While he did reiterate his old nonsense about “disruptive sexual behavior”, he eventually got to the point after a somewhat Kerry-esque lead up.  He mentioned a translator who was fired just for being gay, and said point blank (transcribed from the video by yours truly, so apologies if it is a bit off):

He was kicked out, for no real good reason at all, and I would, I would want to change that, I don’t support that interpretation

Huzzah!  This is a big step forward for the Ron Paul campaign.  To run a true libertarian campaign he must bring his positions in line with the ideals of individual liberty he speaks to movingly.

While this new articulation is a step in the right direction, it still leaves much substance unrevealed and wanting of detail.  What would constitute “disruptive sexual behavior”?  One guess might be that Ron Paul would simply eradicate “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”, and leave the current policies in place regarding the sexual activities of members of the services.  If so, the Ron Paul campaign should state this explicitly and without caveat.  At the moment this remains merely a reasonable guess.  Also, what is with the word “interpretation”?  Of what?  Is he suggesting leave the policy in place but edit it as a new sexual policy applicable to all individuals within the military?

In other words, did Ron Paul suggest he would change the scope of DADT, or would he remove it entirely?

If he would simply change the scope, then Ron Paul has only taken an illusory step forward, as he would potentially still be providing cover for homophobic personnel policy within the military.  If he would remove the statement entirely, this would be a remarkable move for the campaign to make.

Ron Paul should clarify his position in a concise statement.  If he says “I will remove DADT”, that would say volumes about his campaign and its commitment to the ideals and practicality of individual liberty. Such a statement would be a feather in his cap, and an act of principle that would set him apart from the rest of the Republican field.


19 Responses

  1. All Paul was saying is that all people not matter who they are should be judged by their own behavior and nothing more or less.

  2. Flo,
    That is all he was saying. However it was in response to a specific question: “Will you get rid of the don’t ask don’t tell” policy. If the answer is an unqualified yes, and his discussion of “disruptive sexual behavior” is a means of clarifying his reasoning, then that is fantastic! It could also mean that he wants to modify the law further to regulate behavior in the military. A clarification, a direct answer, would settle this promptly.

  3. I thought he was pretty clear. It was evident that he didnt know too much about the realities of DADT and was interpreting it by name only. In that regard, he responded that it was a sound policy. You should be required to disclose your sexual preferences.

    Once he was made aware of the injustices of DADT by the audience member he immediately expressed his rejection of the policy. It falls in line with his beliefs that he would denounce it once educated on the matter.

    This is one of the reasons why I support him so much, whether or not i agree with him on all of his social issues is completely irrelevent. He is the only one who seems to understand the job description of the president. He still has to go through congress to make his changes. He is not supposed to know all the answers, he is not the decider, he is the influencer. Even if he spends most of his term saying “VETOED! NOT CONSTITUTIONAL!” It will be a win for us. The buggest issue for me besides the war is defining exactly what the government and the president are supposed to do.

  4. er SHOULD NOT be required to disclose your sexual preferences, bad typo.

  5. Eric,
    The audience member asked him, and he went through a long answer which began with his idea that DADT sounds fine on paper (which he does go on to correct). Thus far, his record on gay rights speaks more of a christian conservative politics, rather than a libertarian approach. (The partial exception being his vote on the marriage ammendment, but he opposed that because it was federal). If this represents a change in policy for him, it would be very remarkable. A candidate changing his position to reflect a better argument would be a most welcome and deserving of praise!
    It really does look like that is what happened, but I want to know it is.

  6. I like the way you wrote this. I’ve learned to always question what they mean vs. what they say, and Ron has a number of cases of this type of vague responses.

  7. Thanks for blogging about this! I’ve been eagerly anticipating this entry!

    Why do you call his quip about disruptive sexual behavior nonsense? I’ve suffered through far more disruptive sexual drama with heterosexual co-workers than homosexual co-workers. No need to think he has not experienced the same.

    I think his gay rights political history illustrates a consistent Constitutional view. He simply does not give any group special treatment, because he is very much opposed to “collectivism.” It all ties back to the rights of individuals. It always does with him.

    I’ve been following him for years, and he is absolutely consistent. I have no reason to think that he would not eliminate DADT. Letting soldiers get judged on the merits of being soldiers is the absolute essence of the appeal of Dr. Paul. I was just happy to hear him say it. (He said it in the debate, but then he refuted himself. It was the most unclear answer I’ve ever seen him give.)

    But as Commander In Chief, I believehe could indeed make it disappear with a signature – no?

  8. criminyjicket,
    Thanks. He almost wouldn’t be a politician without some vague responses. I do find that politicians generally try to be clear when they want to be though. Its either a lack of skill or a lack of will, and the first does not seem applicable given what I’ve seen of Ron Paul’s oratory. So why the vagueness then?

    Sure thing, and thanks for the tip!
    I called it nonsense because it was originally offered as a weak way out of directly answering the DADT question, and it leaves the door open for discrimination. For example, is consensual kissing “disruptive sexual behavior”? In other words, do you really hear about explosive orgies keeping our troops from being their best? This seems like almost like a red herring. Of course no one wants “disruptive” behavior in the military.

    Not always. He would support a ban on gay marriage, just at the state level. I suppose that is consistent with a murky stance on gays in the military, but not in a positive way. I am hoping he has come around on this, but to support gays in the military, but allow for restrictions on gay rights on a state by state basis would in no way be consistent.

    You have no reason to think he would not eliminate DADT, while I have little reason to believe he would. Just this one qualified statement in a speech at google. Letting people be judged on the merits of who they are as individuals is the essence of how Ron Paul sells himself. But it does not fit with his stance on gay marriage, or his ghost writings on black crime.

    (And yes, I believe he could if he was so inclined)

  9. […] his supporters made a passionate case for him, and in some instances an eloquent case.  Then he seemed to take a step forward on gay […]

  10. Dr. Paul’s statement at Google regarding DADT was clear to me… he doesn’t feel that you should be kicked out of the military for being gay. Gay, straight, bisexual, asexual, whatever… if you demonstrate behavior that is inconsistant with the role of a member of the armed forces, you should be reprimanded. Yes, there will still be homophobes, but hell, there are gay men who are lesbianphobes and heterophobes in their own way, jokingly or not. Everyone is not going to agree with everyone else’s lifestyle. There will always be some sort of slant, that is human nature. Repealing DADT won’t fix anything… gays were dishonorably discharged from the military before DADT. Dr. Paul’s stance is that you should not be discharged from the military solely on the basis of sexual orientation.

  11. This is a step forward. While I was in the Army, one of my buddies (and his mom) tuned me into libertarianism and they suggested I follow Paul’s career. I was so disappointed when I looked into his positions on gay “issues.”

    I believe the key to understanding his reaction is that he still needs to be educated on Don’t ask, Don’t tell. Frankly I didn’t have a problem with it while I was in the service until I was harassed by my first sergeant. Then my eyes were opened to the full meaning of this ignorant law.

    Since I was discharged I have talked to a lot of people about DADT and the tallest hurdle to overcome is making them understand how this law is applied and how it affects the servicemember and the services themselves. Of course, most people never truly think about the ramifications of new laws whether they are about taxes, hate crimes, or anything else. So why should I be surprised at the ignorance around Don’t ask, Don’t tell.

  12. Vance,
    Repealing DADT would be a decent start, and in line with the value of individual freedom. If his stance is so clear, why not just say “I would repeal DADT”? Easy, direct, done.

    It is. Especially since at an earlier stage Ron Paul actually supported DADT outright. Very encouraging to see this kind of change in a politician! The rest of his positions on gay issues could use more than a little work, agreed.

    Continuing to discuss the results of this disasterous policy is a damn smart move. The fight over DADT is about what it does to our military and hence our national security. Removing qualified soldiers doesn’t help America.

    I’m sorry to hear our military acted less than honorably towards you, and hope that our next president will have the courage to throw out DADT.

  13. I actually interviewed Dr. Paul for a school project, and afterwards, I asked him about his views on DADT. This was back shortly after he announced his candidacy several months ago. At that time, he made an argument that he viewed the military like a private employer, and that it should be able to choose who it hires or not. And while, from a constitutionalist perspective that is a valid argument, at that time, I think he was wrong in viewing the military as a corporation like Pepsi or Nike. Especially considering that military tradition runs strong in many families (like mine) where one is expected to join up when they reach the right age. What is a gay kid going to do? Just say, “Sorry dad, I can’t, I’m gay.”

    Anyway, I made these points to him during our discussion and in a letter afterwards, so it seems that now in July, he has come around to changing his views slightly. But he already knew the personal troubles with DADT when I laid them out for him from personal experience. For example, I told him that if you’re gay and have some straight friends that always talk about how many girls they bagged last weekend (happened all the time in the military) and yet you never talk about the girls you hook up with, they will begin to suspect something is up, even if you are as butch as butch can be.

    Anyway, I still support him on 99% of his positions, and I hope he actually makes a bigger splash on the national scene after the primaries, but unfortunately, while most Republicans (and Independents too) would lean towards Dr. Paul, the party core (the primary voters) would probably favor someone like Huckabee or Romney. In any event, I wish Dr Paul luck!

  14. James,
    I wouldn’t worry about the party core favoring Romney. I actually hadn’t thought much about the logistical difficulty of serving in the closet! Very interesting point. And of course he was well aware of the issues around this before he changed his mind (possibly). The translator story is a useful narrative. The fellow probably did stop by Ron’s office to talk, but did that really spur the change of heart? It could have, but the main purpose of that story is to bring other people over to his point of view. Its a pretty effective way of doing it, actually.

    Its agonizing to have a candidate you absolutely support have the wrong stance on an issue that’s vital to you. Re-evaluating the candidate is always a constant act, but I’d suggest continuing to bring this up to supporters, and the candidate himself. This is something that could help him stand out from the other candidates in terms of social policy, and make him look much stronger on defense. Only an idiot would want to keep great soldiers out of service because of their sexual orientation.

  15. Agreed! And to be fair, he did mention the behavior issue during my interview with him, which I agree with him on. I brought up the (then recent) situation where someone down in Florida allegedly drugged some subordinates and then raped them. I told him that a situation like that is absolutely inexcusable, to be sure. But if the only thing being held against the individual is consensual sex with a person of the same sex, then the libertarian thing to do is just let them alone.

    One other MAJOR problem with DADT that is rarely addressed is the fact that it is a HUGE security risk. I don’t know why there are so many homosexuals in Intelligence, but the threat of blackmail is there so long as they have to keep their sexuality a secret to keep their job. Remove that need to keep it a secret, and there is no more threat of blackmail (assuming the person isn’t intentionally in the closet).

    On the other hand, I’ve had airmen use the “I’m gay” excuse to get out when they just couldn’t cut it. We take away DADT and people can’t renege on their promise to serve their country just because they can’t take the heat. And come on, it’s not like the Air Force is that difficult anyway. These were Services (cooks and gym attendant) students “gaying” out.

    Anyway, DADT is more trouble than it’s worth. And will there still be hate crimes within the military? For sure there will, there are still skinheads in the military who do hate crimes on minorities (even more now that the standards have dropped and allowed criminals to sign up). I am absolutely pissed that I can’t get back in for my medical condition, but some car thief or sociopath can? What’s up with that?

  16. […] Or why Ron Paul won’t take a solid position.  A while back, I observed that Ron’s evolving position on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell seemed promising (and of course his supporters were quick to […]

  17. I never fully understood the DADT rule. I’m not convinced that homosexuality is a normality that exists in human nature but it doesn’t give me the authority to decide on a persons goodness or abilities to do anything in particular. The skin head mentality is learned. The solution is to (somehow) educate the poor bastards to realize that, as MLKJ said, we need to “judge on the quality of character not the color of skin”. That speaks volumes. Chris Rock is an example of being correct while being politically incorrect, which is redundant in this day and age it seems. He goes on to say “I love black people but I hate niggers”. Not profound and not revolutionary. I have felt this way since I was a teenager but to the whole human race. I love people but I hate ignorant people. I know a few gay people and they are varied in their attitudes where as some “play” the gay card and some just exist and live with “the blind eye for the homo sapient guy” attitude. I can’t say enough about this being the preferred approach to me. We all have things we can improve upon for self but it is our responsibility to change them not any one else’s. I hope Ron Paul is all I think he is and if he has shortcomings that exclude him from being president I have to pray that they are more meaningful than deciding that certain problems are the property of the owner. Attitude and understanding are the foundation of relationship. This world could be a peaceful place if the people wanted it but then how would they feel significant if they had nothing to bitch about? Is cohabitation really that dependent on discrimination? In the wild the predators prey on the weak because 1. less energy is expended to eat. 2. ensures a healthy crop of potential food. Symbiotic existence in animals, go figure. The American Indians didn’t exhaust the food resources in a single area because it would force them to be migratory yet they were called savages and they were different and so eradicated. So many examples of the wrong thing being done for the wrong reasons but blind faith in the opinion of a superior. The superiority factor is the problem we as a race have to overcome. Unless the individual realizes his/her own sovereignty over the “official” and respects the same qualities in others this world will be wrought with white supremacists, homophobes, heterophobes, zenophobes, racists, bigots, self serving maniacal zealots (Bush), war mongers, dictators, the list really goes on and on but the end result is detrimental to our civilization. While I hope beyond hope that Paul gets elected I fear any of the other candidates being sworn in as I believe Paul is the one that will, above all others, come the closest to fulfilling his oath to uphold the constitution which is really all we have as a nation. Then we can proceed to set a good example for the rest of the world to follow.

  18. James Johnson,
    The security thing is pretty huge. You don’t hear about blackmail as a security issue. We should make it more of an issue.

    I can see an interesting ad campaign… Show a mug shot “convicted for theft, joined the military x/y/2007”, and a shot of a guy with his boyfriend “convicted of unapproved sex. kicked out of the military.”

    Michael D,
    That was kinda rambling. You said all that, and yet, Ron Paul supports DADT. That’s bad for security and equality. So no, he’s not the closest to fulfilling anything, not even the fevered dreams of his supporters.

  19. Kinda?? I thought it was all…

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: