MSNBC anchor and gay rights activist Contessa Brewer on Tuesday warned of "consequences" for senators who oppose repealing the ban on gays serving openly in the military. In the 12pm hour, she speculated, "...My big question here, will there be consequences, especially for moderates who refuse to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell?" [MP3 audio here.]
Later in the News Live show, Brewer interviewed Daniel Choi, an ex-Army lieutenant who was discharged under the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. Brewer repeated her prediction, citing the planned vote of Senator Susan Collins: "Will there be consequences for her this afternoon if she votes to block the procedure moving forward?"
Despite reporting on gay rights issues, the journalist has also lobbied for political change. On July 24, 2010, she appeared at a fundraiser in Kentucky. A press release touted, "As the evening’s featured guest, MSNBC’s Brewer, who has several family ties to Kentucky, will speak on the need for a statewide anti-discrimination Fairness law in the Commonwealth from a national news perspective."
On July 12, the supposedly neutral anchor implored, "My big question today: Why aren't more American leaders itching for a fight on gay rights?"
Choi has repeatedly been the go-to guest for Brewer to tout the wrongness of Don't Ask, Don't tell. In addition to Tuesday, he appeared as a guest on September 10 and July 12.
A transcript of the September 21 segment can be found below:
CONTESSA BREWER: The Senate is set to vote on whether to move forward on the Don't Ask, Don't tell repeal 2:30 p.m. eastern. We'll watch for it. We'll bring it to you when it happens. Given all the issues our country is facing today, of course my big question here, will there be consequences, especially for moderates who refuse to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell? I'd like to hear your thoughts on Twitter, on Facebook.
CONTESSA BREWER: Dan Choi was discharged from the army for being openly gay. And, so here you had Lady Gaga drawing attention to Maine and the role of these moderate Republican Senators, Senator Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins. We just saw, Lieutenant Choi, Susan Collins on the floor of the House. She says she supports a repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, but she doesn't like the way Congress and the Democrats are going about seeing the repeal passed. Will there be consequences for her this afternoon if she votes to block the procedure moving forward?
DANIEL CHOI (Former U.S. Army Lt.): Yes. There will be consequences, Contessa, for all of us because whenever you continue a policy of discrimination, there are dire consequences for the fabric of what makes America what it is. And, although it's difficult for me to follow Lady Gaga, I want to say she's been a great leader in this. I some of our politicians can speak up you loudly and forthrightly as she has.
BREWER: I want to read what McCain has to say about this. He says, and he's kind of been the one pushing for a filibuster of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. He says it's "pushing for a vote on the Don't Ask, Don't Tell law before the Defense Department has concluded its survey of the opinions of our force on an important matter that will directly affect them and their families." I'm getting a lot of E-mails in, Dan, from people who have served or are serving in the military. Both sides here, some saying, no, gays should not be allowed to openly serve and some saying it's absolutely time to overhaul this policy. Do the survey results at all change- would it change your view about whether it's a valid policy?
CHOI: It's absolutely an invalid- it's absolutely a destructive policy. You don't need a survey to understand that discrimination is anti-American. I don't know if any of the people conducting the survey took a look at the other countries in the world. They conducted polls and many people said the same thing that Senator McCain and many other elected officials are saying, that there's going to be some kind of negative impact. Contessa, whenever you have a unit or a team that prizes honesty, and integrity, that supports all families, not just straight families, but all families, you have an increase in cohesion. You have an increase in community. You have an increase in the strength of an organization. Repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell is going to do nothing but strengthen our communities and our families and our country.
BREWER: Let me ask you, and some of the e-mails I get that do not support the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell from former or current military members, this is the argument they make: I want you to address this since you served in the military. They say, what happens when a gay military member hits on a straight military member and then the gay military member gets punched in the face? Does that happen? Do gay- do gay soldiers hit on straight soldiers?
CHOI: Well- Well, I think what -- let me just be really clear about this. When a gay soldier exists in a unit, 99 percent of the time, they're not spending their time hitting on other soldiers. There's probably a fear that when a gay soldier exists that the other soldiers will say, "Oh, maybe I'm gay, too," And that's what's at the bottom of this kind of thinking, this kind of illogic. And those incidents that people are bringing up never happened when I was openly gay in an infantry unit for over a year and a half. It it's common for a lot of people to focus on, you know, these pretend incidents that they will say will be widespread and they'll create a sense of fear. But I'm not buying it. I'm not tricked by it. And I don't think anybody who pays attention to your program should be tricked by it either.