Transcript: Tony Perkins Interviews Senator John McCain (R-Az) About Dont Ask, Dont Tell on Washington Watch Weekly Radio
May 21, 2010
From the May 21, 2010 edition of Washington Watch Weekly:
TONY PERKINS: Since President Obama announced his plans to force open homosexuality in the military, liberal members in Congress have been chomping at the bit to force the change, even though the military is in the midst of a six month review of how to impellent this change without hurting military readiness, and which numerous studies have shown that it would. Well the study is to be presented to Congress the first of December, but a Michigan senator, Carl Levin, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, hopes to amend the Defense Authorization bill next week. Joining us from Capitol Hill is Senator John McCain who represents Arizona; hes been representing Arizona since 1982. Hes a true American hero, having served twenty-two years as a naval aviator, a survivor of the North Vietnamese prisoner of war camp in Hanoi. I have to tell you his fighting spirit is well known and respected on Capitol Hill Senator McCain, thanks for joining us on Washington Watch Radio.
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: Thank you Tony, and again thanks for all you do for the men and women in the military, for our nations security and the values that we hold dear.
TONY PERKINS: Well thank you Senator and I didnt mention that youre also the ranking member on the Senate Armed Services Committee, so youre right on the front lines of this fight over the military. Now were expecting Senator Levin the chairman to try and amend a military authorization bill which is a spending bill. This gives money to the military is that correct?
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: Yes, and it does authorize, it would be if you thought it was appropriate it would be a vehicle that would contain a policy change. But the fact is as you mention there is a study going on. The secretary of defense recently openly stated that they should allow the study to be completed before any congressional action should be taken. By the way I have a big problem with the study itself. The study should be on the impact on battle effectiveness on morale in the military if the policy of Dont Ask, Dont Tell the law, not the policy the law of Dont Ask, Dont Tell, were repealed. Instead Secretary Gates, to my great disappointment, is conducting a study as to how best to implement it in other words its a fait accompli because of no other reason than President Obamas campaign promise. The military is at its highest level of effectiveness, morale, equipment, training, professionalism, and why we would want to disrupt that when were in the middle of two wars is something that I find very, very wrong.
TONY PERKINS: Yeah, its a very important distinction to make and you have made that both in committee and in correspondence to the Secretary of Defense, and I think the public needs to be aware that the review that is taking place is how to implement this change, not if the change should be made. However, in the process, and I know this from some meetings over at the Pentagon with those that are doing this review, that theyre uncovering some problems that they did not anticipate. Can not Congress when they come back with this review in December then explore more deeply into these issues that have come up and come to its own conclusion that this is not the best approach for the military?
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: Well, obviously Congress plays a role, but I dont think it should play a preemptive role. We should assess the impact of change in this law on battle effectiveness we have a military for only one reason, and people join the military for only one reason and that is to fight. And its our obligation and defend our nations security and we have an obligation it seems to me to make sure that we dont do anything that would disrupt or diminish that capability, especially when we are in two wars, in order to carry out a campaign promise of the President of the United States, not because there is any movement, any outcry, any request for the change to be made. The Commandant of the Marine Corps has come out flat out saying he opposes repeal in fact the Commandant of the Marine Corps said that they would have to look at living arrangements that the Marine Corps has, so the implications of this change in law has to be assessed carefully. Instead apparently the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi who said today, its carried in the news today, that Dont Ask, Dont Tell policy will be nothing but a memory by years end, Speaker Nancy Pelosi declared Wednesday. So I think its good that we review every policy no matter what it is from time to time and review of the policy is something that I know, Tony, you and I would agree on, but a preemptive repeal without any study, without any assessment on the impact of battle effectiveness is in my view putting our social agenda, or the liberal social agenda, ahead of national security.
TONY PERKINS: Well Senator McCain that brings up a question, or an observation: those that are really pushing this agenda to essentially use the military to advance their social agenda-
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: Thats it-
TONY PERKINS: How many of them have actually served in the military?
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: (laughter) I dont know of any. There may be a few Congressman Sestak has, I dont know his position on the issue, I havent heard it yet but the point is that the people that I talk to and know, Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, have both come out strongly against the repeal, and certainly even more strongly against a process that would preemptively address an issue which, could, could, I emphasize could we havent done the study could adversely affect the morale and battle effectiveness of the United States military, the by far and head and shoulders above and better than any other in the world today.
TONY PERKINS: Absolutely, without question I know a lot of people point to militaries that have allowed homosexuality within the ranks theres twenty-five of almost two hundred nations but the top militaries in the world do not allow homosexuality to be openly engaged in, in the military I mean, if you want a military that just does parades and stuff like that then I guess thats okay.
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: Could we also emphasize a point thats lost in this debate sometime, particularly by the liberal media we dont, we do not tell someone who is homosexual that they cant join the military we dont tell them that-
TONY PERKINS: Right.
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: We, in fact, we appreciate the fact that all Americans would want to join the military. What we are saying is that that sexual orientation theyre kept quiet about, and they can have the whatever orientation they choose; because in 1993 we passed the Dont Ask, Dont Tell policy because we thought that was the best way to maintain morale and battle effectiveness in the United States military.
TONY PERKINS: The focus-
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: So its not discriminatory and no one forces anyone to join the military and if they wanna have a sexual orientation we dont keep them from having that orientation.
TONY PERKINS: Well its all focused on behavior and the same standards apply to heterosexuals who are-
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: Right.
TONY PERKINS: Cannot engage in adultery thats a crime in the military and people dont realize that, that there is a higher standard for the military for the very purposes that you outlined, Senator.
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: Well I hope our listeners will take an interest in this issue. And I know that theres a whole lot of other issues out there, the economy, joblessness, Iranian nuclear buildup, immigration, theres a whole lot of other issues, but this issue has significant long-term implication for our ability to defend this nation. So I hope listeners of this show, Tony, will take an interest. Contact Family Research Council for more information, contact our office and weigh in on this issue because it really does have significant long-term implications.
TONY PERKINS: Senator I couldnt, I could not agree with you more. Senator John McCain, thanks for joining us.
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: Thank you, Tony.
Listen to the audio: