Southern Religion

Why repeal of DADT passed & will be implemented

In a defeat for evangelical conservatives, delivered with help from Republicans, DADT repeal passed Saturday:

Eight Republicans bucked their party in backing the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, potentially risking a backlash from the conservative base while giving the historic vote a stronger bipartisan finish than many expected.

The Republican senators voting “yes” with the Democrats on repeal were Richard Burr of North Carolina, Mark Kirk of Illinois, John Ensign of Nevada, Scott Brown of Massachusetts, George Voinovich of Ohio, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska – and Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, both of Maine.

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins quickly responded:

Today is a tragic day for our armed forces. The American military exists for only one purpose – to fight and win wars. Yet it has now been hijacked and turned into a tool for imposing on the country a radical social agenda. This may advance the cause of reshaping social attitudes regarding human sexuality, but it will only do harm to the military’s ability to fulfill its mission.

Mark Silk of Trinity College’s Leonard E. Greenberg Center for Study of Religion in public life wondered:

When nearly 80 percent of the American public supports letting gays and lesbians serve openly in the military, you wonder exactly what the point is of asserting that this is a “radical social agenda.”

Even looking at active military alone, a heavy majority either favored repeal of DADT or didn’t care, as David Wood reported recently:

Tuesday’s Pentagon report [revealed] that things have changed in the ranks over the past two decades: today, the vast majority of troops (70 percent under age 30) either favor repeal of the law banning open gays from military service, or don’t care one way or another.

On some radical agenda list, or not, repeal of DADT enjoyed general approval. Which in pragmatic terms explains why it attracted the vote of North Carolina’s Sen. Burr, a Methodist who typically votes with religious conservatives. The weight of public opinion driving the change also predicts the political fate of efforts, like the one hastily announced by the Freedom Council, to repeal the repeal.

They may be best seen as drives to retain members and contributors in the face of a historic battle lost. Or to influence the details of repeal’s implementation. Otherwise, they’re doomed.


Analyst Nate Silver makes a simillar argument:

In what reflects a shift from the way that gay rights initiatives have been perceived in the past, however, other Republicans seemed to conclude they might have been taking on some measure of risk by voting to perpetuate a policy that a clear majority of the public wanted to see repealed.

For example:

Two other Republicans, Mark Kirk of Illinois, who won election by a narrow margin in November, and Richard Burr of North Carolina, who won re-election by 12 points in November but who has tepid approval ratings, may have cast a yea vote with an eye toward 2016..


December 19, 2010 - Posted by | SBC |


  1. O.K. Repeal the Repeal. Who’s In ? Richard Land and SBC. How much can you start us off with on this Love Offering ?

    Comment by Jack Wolford | December 22, 2010

  2. I’d like to see a vote by the active duty military on whether they think the FRC really knows how to fight.

    Comment by Jack Wolford | December 26, 2010

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