HRC on Pawlenty: Not Ready for Prime Time

The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest civil rights organization dedicated to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality, rebuked comments made by presidential aspirant Tim Pawlenty that he would reinstate “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” if elected president. Based upon an interview conducted with Pawlenty by the American Family Association, an organization designated as a “hate group,” it’s unclear whether the former Minnesota governor understands the potentially dangerous ramifications of his comments. 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. Unanswered in Pawlenty’s comments is the fate of 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, the financial costs of dealing with his misguided initiative and the certain impacts 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.”

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