Gay Rights Activist/MSNBC Anchor Contessa Brewer: Support for DADT 'Doesn't Make A Lot of Sense'

During Wednesday's 12PM ET hour on MSNBC, anchor Contessa Brewer attacked those who want to maintain the military's 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy: "...the Marine Corps and Catholic chaplains, who say they support the policy on moral grounds. It doesn't make a lot of sense...if it's homosexuality that they have a problem with – they're basically saying, 'Yeah, just keep lying about it.'"

Later in the hour, Brewer interviewed Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman about his support for repealing the policy. She labeled Arizona Senator John McCain as the villain preventing repeal: "So John McCain has been one of the most formidable foes when it comes to repealing this policy....Both Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Admiral Mike Mullen support repealing this policy. Have you talked with Senator McCain? Is he willing to give?"

Moments later, Brewer dismissed a recently released Pentagon study on the issue as irrelevant: "...there's a logic problem with the survey at any rate, and here it is. If it's wrong to ban gay people from serving openly in the military, it doesn't matter how people feel about it, it's wrong." She likened repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' to civil rights: "I mean, you can make some of these same arguments that were made against integrating the military, what, 60 years ago? I mean, you know, people have – and may still have attitudes that it hurts unit cohesion to serve with people of a religion that opposes their own or with someone whose racial background is different."

In response, Lieberman concluded: "I feel that the country is ready for this repeal, the military is ready for it, and I sure hope that the members of Congress are ready for it." Brewer replied: "Well, me too."

At the end of the interview, Lieberman proclaimed: "We can get this done, it's the right thing to do for our values and it's the right thing to do for the military, because the military needs the skills and courage that gay and lesbian Americans bring to our services every day." Brewer didn't try to hide her support: "Senator, you're preaching to the choir here."   

In July, Brewer spoke at a gay rights fundraiser in Kentucky. She has frequently promoted the gay rights agenda on air and in September warned of "consequences" for politicians who did not support repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.'

Here is a transcript of Brewer's December 1 reporting and commentary:

12:07PM ET

CONTESSA BREWER: The next step for 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' is up to Congress. The newly released Pentagon survey shows 70% of service members believe killing the policy would be positive, mixed, or of no consequence at all. But time is running out for those advocating its repeal.

ROBERT GATES: The finding suggests that for large segments of the military, repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' though potentially disruptive in the short term would not be the wrenching traumatic change that many have feared and predicted.

BREWER: Some troops in the field are pushing back, including the Marine Corps and Catholic chaplains, who say they support the policy on moral grounds. It doesn't make a lot of sense, really, that they – if it's homosexuality that they have a problem with – they're basically saying, 'Yeah, just keep lying about it.'  

(...)

12:17PM ET        

BREWER: Lawmakers are lining up to duke it out over the defense bill, specifically over the House proposal to repeal 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.' The Pentagon says letting gays and lesbians serve openly in the military would not be a problem in the long-term.

ROBERT GATES: But in summary, a strong majority of those who answered the survey, more than two-thirds, do not object to gays and lesbians serving openly in uniform.

BREWER: I'm joined now by independent Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut. Senator, good to see you today.

JOE LIEBERMAN [SEN. I-CT]: Thanks, Contessa. Good to be with you.

BREWER: So John McCain has been one of the most formidable foes when it comes to repealing this policy, but he has said in the past that he would listen to the military's survey results, he would listen to its commanders. Both Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Admiral Mike Mullen support repealing this policy. Have you talked with Senator McCain? Is he willing to give?  

LIEBERMAN: Well, I've talked to – Senator McCain and I, as you probably know, are really good friends, we've talked a lot about this issue over the years, and I can't say I've made much progress. But I haven't talked to him since the report was issued yesterday, and we've got two days of hearings in the Armed Services Committee coming up Thursday and Friday. The report is very important and very encouraging. Look, to me the basic idea here is you shouldn't deny somebody the right to serve their country because they're gay if they're otherwise qualified and willing to fight to defend America. And once you reach that conclusion, then the only other question is will somehow gays in the military hurt our military effectiveness? And yesterday's report says that, in a very big survey of the troops and their families, that the judgement is no, it won't hurt military effectiveness, so I hope Senator McCain will decide to support the repeal. I'm not counting on it, but it would be a great development.

BREWER: Senator Lieberman, fundamentally, it seems that there's a – there's a logic problem with the survey at any rate, and here it is. If it's wrong to ban gay people from serving openly in the military, it doesn't matter how people feel about it, it's wrong. I mean, you can make some of these same arguments that were made against integrating the military, what, 60 years ago? I mean, you know, people have – and may still have attitudes that it hurts unit cohesion to serve with people of a religion that opposes their own or with someone whose racial background is different. I mean, I just don't get how a survey result should influence this argument in any way.

LIEBERMAN: Look, as a matter of principle and morality, you are absolutely right. That's why I voted against the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' when it first went into effect 17 years ago, in 1993. So –  but the survey was done just to test the proposition, and here's the most important number, I think, on that whole survey. 92% of our troops, including over 85-89% of combat troops in Iraq and Afghanistan said – of those who said they believe they serve with somebody who is gay or lesbian – those numbers, 85, 92% said it had no effect on military effectiveness.

And of course that's the great story of the American military, it's one of the great integrating institutions in our society. There was a lot of anxiety obviously about African-Americans, and now, of course, African-Americans serve in the highest positions in our military and everybody's over that concern. I'm totally convinced that the same will be true if we repeal 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.' In fact, these numbers on the survey yesterday show that the same is true, that people in the military know they're serving with gay soldiers and they just judge them not by their private sexual orientation but by the fact that they're good soldiers. That's America, and so I feel that the country is ready for this repeal, the military is ready for it, and I sure hope that the members of Congress are ready for it.

BREWER: Well, me too. And the Armed Services Committee, you said, is meeting on Thursday and Friday. You have a lame duck session chance at repealing this thing, but was it a mistake for the Senate Democrats not to tackle this before the midterm?

LIEBERMAN: There was an attempt to tackle it but the votes weren't there and it fell aground on practical nonsense here. I'm convinced, Contessa, that we have more than the necessary 60 votes to take this defense authorization bill, which we have to pass to do right by our soldiers. Forget what 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' says to our community. If they have time to do that, it would be, to me, outrageous. If we don't adopt the defense authorization bill, which would be the first time in 43 years we haven't done this, and our troops need us to do this, and we don't repeal 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' because of the clock, we can get this done, it's the right thing to do for our values and it's the right thing to do for the military, because the military needs the skills and courage that gay and lesbian Americans bring to our services every day.

BREWER: Senator, you're preaching to the choir here. Thank you, sir, I appreciate it.

LIEBERMAN: It's been a pleasure. Thank you.

 

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC