Former Congressman Bob Barr Calls for End of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

In an op-ed published this morning in the Wall Street Journal, conservative former U.S. Rep. Bob Barr questions the position of every single Republican candidate for president on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and says that their response to a question on whether or not they would end the ban on gays in the military at last week’s debate offered “some troubling insight into the thinking of leading GOP candidates.” Barr says that DADT should go.

BobbarrAn excerpt:

“As a conservative Republican member of Congress from 1995 to 2003, I was hardly a card-carrying member of the gay-rights lobby. I opposed then, and continue to oppose, same-sex marriage, or the designation of gays as a constitutionally protected minority class. Service in the armed forces is another matter. The bottom line here is that, with nearly a decade and a half of the hybrid “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy to guide us, I have become deeply impressed with the growing weight of credible military opinion which concludes that allowing gays to serve openly in the military does not pose insurmountable problems for the good order and discipline of the services.

…Asked about reconsideration of the don’t ask, don’t tell policy in favor of a more open and honest approach, the simplistic responses by several Republican presidential candidates left me — and I suspect many others — questioning whether those candidates really even understood the issue, or were simply pandering to the perceived “conservative base.” The fact is, equal treatment of gay and lesbian service members is about as conservative a position as one cares to articulate.”

Barr, once a Republican and now a Libertarian, says that the unnecessary discharges hurt the military, “an institution conservatives claim to love.” He also says the ban is a waste of money and that the invasions of privacy related to the ban are an infringement on conservative values.

Don’t Ask, Who Cares [wall street journal]

GLBT Military Service Subject of New Historical Exhibit [tr]
Pentagon Sought “Gay Bomb” Says Watchdog Group [tr]
Gay Iraq War Vet: Steady Gay Couples Common at Camp Lejeune [tr]
GOP Candidates on Gays: Discrimination Trumps National Security [tr]
Singer and Van Sant Vie to be First with Harvey Milk Film [tr]


  1. Cory says

    So let me understand this correctly. Bob Barr states “I opposed then, and continue to oppose, same-sex marriage, or the designation of gays as a constitutionally protected minority class. Service in the armed forces is another matter”. Ok, so we don’t deserve the rights entitled to heterosexual couples, but please, use us as cannon fodder so that we may protect the heterosexual’s of the United States. I think his stance is even worse than the general consensus of the GOP. While I agree that “DADT” should be repealed, I sure as sh*t don’t believe any homosexual should serve this country without getting the equal and fair treatment the government has entitled to the heterosexual service men and women. Barr just demonstrates the severely lacking logic and compassion of the conservative reich wing GOP’ers.

  2. FizziekruntNT says

    Screw you, Bob. That’s some half-assed logic going on in the worst way.

    How does this:

    ” I opposed then, and continue to oppose, same-sex marriage, or the designation of gays as a constitutionally protected minority class. Service in the armed forces is another matter.”

    balance with this:

    “The fact is, equal treatment of gay and lesbian service members is about as conservative a position as one cares to articulate.”

    …as if equal treatment outside the armed services is irrelevant and has no bearing on the enlisted individuals within the armed services.

    Say WHAT? So, it’s okay now in Bob’s eyes for gays to serve openly, not be discharged, and risk their lives for our country, but fuck them if they think they’re going to get any sort of benefits from the U.S. Government for their boyfriend or girlfriend…because that’s all those people are ever going to be?

    Bob Barr is a fuckwit asshole and nobody’s friend.

  3. Jonathon says

    First of all, take everything Bob Barr says with a grain of salt. I live in Cobb County, Georgia, which is part of the district that Barr (and Gingrich) represented in Congress. I have actually seen Barr occasionally around Marietta (where I work.) Bob Barr is a shyster, a hypocrite and a bigot – regardless of his 11th hour conversion and concern for privacy and other “liberal” causes.

    Barr is a devout homophobe, so that is the basis of his opposition to same-sex marriage. I think that this posting expresses exactly what a fucking idiot this guy is. Opposes same-sex marriage but supports gays serving openly in the military. How ridiculous is that? If we can carry and gun and die for our country, why can’t we marry like everyone else? What about OUR families? Are we not Americans too?

  4. Albert says

    Sorry, but as long as I’m not a “constitutionally protected minority class”, then I have no interest in risking my life to participate in an unjustifiable war. If the government is going to repeal “Don’t Ask,” then civil rights and protections have to follow.

  5. Zeke says

    CORY and FIZZIEKRUNTNT, ya’ll took the words right out of my mouth.

    I am so sick of these jerks that want us to fight and die for everyone else’s civil rights, privileges and benefits as long as we don’t ask to get them ourselves when and IF we get home from the battlefield.

    I am a combat veteran who served 8 years in the USMC and 4 years in the Reserves but I and my family are denied basic rights that people who have never done a damned thing for their country get automatically.

    Our country has a history of giving people the right to fight and die for the rights of others long before giving them the right to enjoy the full rights and privileges for which they fought. African-Americans got the privilege to fight and be maimed and die in Korea only to return to Jim Crow, lynchings and the right to NOT vote.

    I honestly believe that THAT is the main issue that social conservatives have with gays in the military. It’s not about showers or close quarters or troop morale. It’s about the fear that an OPENLY gay war hero will come home, missing arms and/or legs, and demand the rights for which he made an unspeakable sacrifice. That is their WORST nightmare because, just like with African-Americans after Korea, the site of OUT war heroes will catapult the gay rights movement forward. Eric Alva is a walking, talking nightmare for the anti-gay lobby. How are they supposed to attack a man who lost his leg in combat while serving voluntarily in the Marine Corps (though Max Cleland proves that there is no level to which neo-conservatives won’t stoop to demonize their opponents).

    John Stewart hit the nail on the head when he said that the only thing a Republican fears more than a terrorist attack is a gay hero stopping it.

  6. Tom says

    Thank you Zeke for exposing the truth. I am a Viet Vet who served as a Corpsman with the USMC (active and reserve) for about 9 years. I knew several gay Marine heroes and several gay Corpsmen who put their lives on the line for their Marines and this country. They will never be recognized. They will never be honored. They will never be given the same “rights and equal protection under the law” that heterosexual citizens, vet or not are guaranteed.

    What’s even more sad is under the GOP leadership since the days of Reagan, all veterans have been shafted and ignored. A promise of a grateful nation caring for its Veterans has become a lie, whether they’re gay or heterosexual. Why do the Republicans hate our military so much?

  7. Jack! says


    Americans don’t mind using gay people whether it’s for a laugh (Ross the intern) or to improve their life (interior design, medicine etc) or to die (AIDS, military service).

    Bob Barr and those that think like him can shove it!

  8. anon ( says

    I don’t think that posters here now wish to take advantage of DADT in order to leverage other rights such as marriage, do they? That would mean the continued suffering of gay personnel in the military. In other words, you are now saying that if Republicans came out and wanted to repeal DADT (for whatever reason) to allow gay troops to serve openly you would then say: “No way, not until we get marriage, etc.”. I hope not.

    Barr has become increasingly Libertarian over the years, particularly since he lost his seat (a combo of the impeachment, redistricting and his lack of conservative friends in the GOP). He has no pull within the party anymore, but I suspect he could be the mouthpiece of the resurgent Libertarian wing of the party along with Ron Paul. Cleland was a Democrat.

  9. Leland says

    With apologies to Shakespeare, “it’s not that Republicans love our military less, but that they love money and macho posturing more.” While preaching fiscal prudence, they drive us into decades’ long deficits for the latest overpriced weapons/planes/ships [mothballing still functioning things they previously spent gazillions on] particularly if they own, have stock in, or are employed by a “defense” contractor. There must not have been enough profit from body armor as, you may recall, our soldiers were sent to Iraq without sufficient supplies. And adequately funding care for our wounded is somehow less appealing to them. No private profit to be made from government-owned hospitals? Is it because such casualities remind them that we are not invincible; that even “men” can hurt? Is caring for people too “soft? Like the Reagan Reich trying to cut the amount they were spending on school lunches for poor kids [sometimes the only real meal they get in a day] by calling ketchup a “vegetable”?

    And it’s not just straight Repugs that make up that band of boys. When Bush pere was running, veteran gay activist and film historian Vito Russo said to an audience at the Castro Theatre, “Too many of us think this election is about being able to buy Rolex watches.”

  10. Zeke says

    Anon said:

    “In other words, you are now saying that if Republicans came out and wanted to repeal DADT (for whatever reason) to allow gay troops to serve openly you would then say: “No way, not until we get marriage, etc.”.”

    Who is the YOU who is now saying this. Where did you get that bogus statement from. Who said anything about leveraging gay rights by refusing to serve in the military. Point to the comment that lead you to that conclusion. I didn’t read it. In fact some of us who commented here ALREADY HAVE served. How about you?

    Barr is about as Libertarian as Bush is Republican. Libertarians believe that everyone should have a right or no one should have it. True Libertarians support marriage equality or the abolition of all marriage.

    And why do you point out the Cleland was a Democrat? Of course he was a Democrat. What’s your point? I pointed out that Cleland was an example of how neo-cons will even attack a multi-amputee war hero if it suits their political purpose. They, the “Support the Troops” party, called Cleland a “COWARD” for opposing the Iraq war based on his WAR EXPERIENCE. I didn’t realize that it was necessary to point out that Cleland was a Democrat. I assumed that my statement that he was demonized by neo-cons would have made that clear to the average reader.

  11. Zeke says

    Ok, I see ALBERT’s statement but he was making a statement about what he personally feels concerning his own willingness to serve.

    I’m curious ANON, would you blame a person who refused to serve in the military of a country that didn’t give him the rights and privileges for which he is asked to fight?

    Have you ever served in the military?

  12. tjc says

    I’m actually okay with this to a certain extent. Reasoning: once the military gets used to out GLBT servicemembers, the rest of the country will follow, and at that point marriage and the other rights should flow.

    No, this is not my preferred route to victory, but I think it’s an acceptable one as long as the battles (so to speak) are being waged on all fronts at the same time.

    And no, I don’t think the military or the rest of the country will suddenly have an epiphany, but I think out active duty service members are a HUGE turning point in our favor. I’m sure Barr understands this, so I don’t understand his motivation.

  13. Michael says

    One of the biggest ironies usually lost in this discussion, even in gay media, is that the Air Force job my late friend Leonard Matlovich had when he decided to challenge the pre-DADT no-gays policies in 1975 was as a Race Relations Instructor. These classes were created, at least in the USAF, when they wisely realized that they needed to try to educate racist airmen and women, even nearly 30 years after President Truman ordered racial integration of the services. Mat accepted his gayness very late in life [around 30], and the lessons of racial equality he was teaching helped motivate him to publicly come out and become a legal “test case.” Further irony was that his superior was a man of color who initially refused to accept Mat’s letter stating his orientation and desire to stay in. When Mat insisted, he asked, “What does this mean?” Mat replied, “This means ‘Brown vs. the Board of Education’,” referring to the landmark school integration decision.

    In addition to believing that there would be far less resistance among the ranks to gays today than there would have been in ’75, the fact that senior military officers and civilian Pentagon officials conveniently forget the efforts and expense they went to (successfully overall) for “unit cohesion” vis-a-vis race when bitching and moaning about integrating out gays burns me up!

    The link below is to a more detailed article about the SF history of gays in the military exhibit that Andy highlighted yesterday. Including the story of a then-closeted atomic submarine captain in a meeting with a commander who, hearing of Clinton’s hopes to admit gays, said, “You mean we’re going to have homosexuals in the military?”

  14. anon ( says

    The gist of what I was getting at is the worrisome tendency of so disliking Republicans that we would willingly do disservice to ourselves in the process just to oppose them. How many on this site would suddenly oppose gays in the military if Rush came “out” for it? The unflinching principal of opposing conservative policies could be seen to override other goals. If you are for repealing DADT then you should stick to that principal even if your “enemies” switch sides, sorry to say. Gosh, if you were in the military then you know the importance of gaining territory, even hostile territory. However, several posters here seem willing to piss away victory over DADT in a fit of partisan rage. For example, Cory said: “Ok, so we don’t deserve the rights entitled to heterosexual couples, but please, use us as cannon fodder so that we may protect the heterosexual’s of the United States. I think his stance is even worse than the general consensus of the GOP.” and Zeke said: “CORY and FIZZIEKRUNTNT, ya’ll took the words right out of my mouth.” Well, what are we to make of that? Remember, this is an all volunteer army, so the term ‘cannon fodder’ is rather demeaning, particularly for gay troops that have to fight DADT as well as the enemy.

    Why would you have a panic attack over people knowing Cleland was a Democrat? Their attack on him was a cynical election ploy in a pro-war state.

    My father served but I have not. It’s a volunteer army, so you can apply any personal motivation to serve or not you like. However, serving in the military does not put one above criticism (though in this case I was hardly criticizing anyone at all). I assume the vast majority of Vietnam vets were drafted, and against their will if given a choice. The military quietly allowed gays to serve during Vietnam because they needed as many boots on the ground as possible.

  15. says

    “I’m a card carrying homo hater who thinks that homosexuals should have no access to civil liberties afforded other citizens, but I do think they are good enough to die in our wars.”

    Um, Bob, fuck fuck you.

    I worked hard to overturn the ban, and would like to see it rescinded. I even think that an openly integrated military in terms of sexuality will be an engine for social good. I also think that people who make hay of their homo-hating ways as a prelude to deciding to see the obvious–well, fuck fuck fuck fuck them.

  16. Zeke says

    ANON, honestly dude, what are you ranting about? You are twisting just about everything that has been said here into something unrecognizable to the people who made the comments.

    In that one comment you must have set up about four straw man arguments.

    I didn’t have a panic attack over Max Cleland being a Democrat, I just didn’t understand, and still don’t understand why you insinuated that I didn’t know he was, or that I was hiding the fact that he was when that was clearly part of my point. Very strange.

    As for why I asked if you had served in the military I just wanted to know what your motivations for not serving were. You answered the question so well that I didn’t have to ask the follow up question I had planned, which was “Why not?”. My point was that you questioned the motivation of someone who said that he wouldn’t want to serve in the military of a country that doesn’t give him equal rights but when someone asks about your motivation for not serving you self righteously proclaim, “you can apply any personal motivation to serve or not you like”. Interesting that you say that after complaining about someone else’s motivation. Frankly, I support anyone who doesn’t want to serve, for what ever reason but you seem quite hypocritical in your desperate attempt to skew this discussion by claiming that it is all based on some imaginary anti-Republican conspiracy. You are the only person who is trying to make this a partisan issue.

    Oh, and could you have warped CORY’S comment into something sinister any more if you tried? I will guarantee you that what Cory intended to say, and what I agreed with, had NOTHING remotely to do with the bastardized interpretation of his comment that you put forward. Give me a break. Trying to accuse him of degrading gay soldiers? Are you serious with this?

    You have claimed that people said things they didn’t say. You have argued against points that were never made. I can’t for the life of me work my way through your forrest of staw man rhetoric to figure out what exactly it is that your trying to convey.

    I will say that it is stunning to me how it is ALWAYS the people who have never served in the military who are the biggest experts on the military, war, what it means to be a soldier and so on. Just like it’s always people with no relationship and no children who are always the greatest experts on relationships and child rearing and it’s always white bigots who are experts on racism and what black people think and what they “REALLY” need and it’s always homophobes who are the experts on homosexuality, what GLBT people want and need…

    I wonder why that is?

  17. TexasWhtBoy says

    Yea Bob when your IN office it’s not so easy to make pronouncements on your new found enlightenment.
    Another one of these Republican assholes who are asking for forgiveness. To hell with all of them. We’ll, never forgive, never forget, never give quarter. We will win and will play Deguelo as we storm the walls.

  18. anon ( says

    Zeke: this really has nothing to do with actual military experience. This has to do with the politics of DADT. Ugh. I’m attempting to caution people here to be careful how they present their arguments when they attack Barr. Attacking Barr should not come first. Attacking DADT should come first. That is all! It is possible to be too hot-headed for your own good.

  19. Zeke says

    ANON, I appreciate (not really) your continuing concern for my temperment but with all due respect I’m quite capable of determining what level of hot-headedness or mellowness is appropriate when I make a comment.

    If you didn’t notice, this discussion is about a statement that BARR made. It is then completely appropriate to challenge Barr on his statement, question his motivations and his claim that he is a Libertarian. It’s not like we just pulled Barr out of our asses (no pun intended).

    I understand what you are trying to do but you are going about it in a counterproductive way when you mistate and misrepresent the comments, thoughts and intentions of others, which you have clearly done here a number of times.

    That’s all.

  20. Cory says

    ANON, while I can appreciate how you may have interpreted my words, you misunderstood my point. How is it right that men may serve next to men, sacrifice their lives, families, everything they have known in the name of “freedom” in battle, and yet receive nothing from their country in return as those soldiers they have served alongside? Barr’s comments seem more concerned with the military’s lack of servicemen in the Iraq war (most readers on Towleroad know that many excellent soldiers were discharged for breaking DADT) than for repealing DADT for the obvious reason that it is discriminatory. I understand your point in taking this as a small step forward and using it to our advantage, however I do not believe the gay community should blithely accept a repeal as a “win” when we are not receiving the same rights as other servicemen. My use of the term “cannon fodder” was meant to reflect Barr’s obvious disrespect for the gay community as allowing homosexuals to serve seems merely a ploy to fill the emptying American military than to give rights to American citizens. I was in no way disrespecting anyone serving in the Armed Forces, gay or straight.

    Zeke, thanks for getting my back, and I agree 100% (and got yours) =)

  21. Zeke says

    CORY, no problem brother.

    ANON is cool. I think he just misunderstood some of the initial comments and once he jumped the track his misunderstanding snowballed. I’ve got his back too, he just doesn’t know it yet.

    It’s all good.

  22. Dean says

    I’m with Jonathon… I, too, am a Georgia boy (Walton Co.) and I have firsthand experience with Barr. He is, indeed, an opportunistic shyster that is not to be trusted. He’s been involved in much of the anti-gay legislation in Georgia.

    I am more than willing (even happy) to accept someone has had a change of heart. I just don’t believe that Bobby-boy has… or will.

  23. anon ( says

    I read the entire Barr op-ed in the WSJ and his argument, while perhaps gung-ho regarding military readiness, hardly seems conpiratorial. The flip side of this argument is the unpleasant thought that Bush and Co. are protecting gays FROM the Iraq war with DADT. Somehow I doubt it.

    Lots of interesting material on Barr:

    Particularly the section titled:

    “Post-congressional career”, and note he works with Al Gore on issues along with the ACLU. He’s not perfect, but not Dick Cheney either. He is anti-gay in general, so repeal of DADT for him is quite a sign of personal growth I should hope. He does not seem headed back into mainstream politics though. The article above could use a few more citations too.

  24. Zeke says

    “The flip side of this argument is the unpleasant thought that Bush and Co. are protecting gays FROM the Iraq war with DADT.” — ANON

    WHAAA? Honestly ANON, where do you get this stuff? That statement makes absolutely no sense. Now if you were to have said, “The flip side of this argument is the thought that Bush and Co. are unintentionally and inadvertently protecting gays FROM the Iraq war with DADT”, that would have made some sense but your version is disjointed and leaves the reader wondering what you meant. Was that what you were intending to convey?

    As for “He’s not perfect but not Dick Cheney either”, that sounds a lot like those who say that Dick Cheney isn’t perfect on gay issues but he’s no George Bush. Why stop there? Bush isn’t perfect but he’s no Bob Dornan; Dornan’s not perfect but he’s no Jesse Helms; Helms isn’t perfect but he’s no Jaroslaw Kaczynski; Kaczynski’s not perfect but he’s no Robert Mugabe; Mugabe’s not perfect but he’s no Adolf Hitler; Hitler’s not perfect but he’s no Satan.

    So, cutting out all the middle men, the bottom line here is, as long as someone isn’t as bad as Satan they are off limits for being criticized for their PUBLICLY STATED and ACTIVELY LEGISLATED anti-gay positions.

    When Barr states that he believes gay people deserve to GET rights and not just fight and die so that other people can get them, Hell, even if he would just say that he is for the repeal of DADT because it is a shameful and discriminatory policy, THEN I will concede that he has grown. Until then I see this as nothing more than a historic homophobe who see’s the repeal of DADT as a win/win, “two birds with one stone”, policy change. In one fell swoop he can fill the ranks of the military to maintain this immoral war and knock of a few hundred/thousand homos as gravy. Not exactly heroic in my book.

  25. says

    As a Libertarian I must pointe out six things.

    1. Barr is our Party’s Candidate for President this year.

    2. Barr is for the repeal of the first half of DOMA just not the latter.Because it has been abused by the Executive Branch in ways that were not intended by Congress at the time. He has admitted openly, that as originally passed into law, it was “the worst mistake of his career”.

    3. While he personally, for religious reasons, he objects to same sex marriage; he is for letting the states decide, which is where the authorization belongs in the first place. The federal government (Executive Branch) has no business regulating contracts between local companies or persons straight or gay. It is a States Rights/Judicial Review issue. The Courts are the ones responsible for Contract Equality and Enforcement

    4. Libertarians are for the individual first not the group of people or collective. We believe that all “persons” are created equal and should be judged on individual merits and ‘the content of their character’.

    5. Libertarians are also against hate crimes legislation because it will end up becoming thought policing or to infer that government/civil society can now control what you can think. There are other remedies already at the Courts disposal to issue punitive damages or add to a sentence based on aggravating circumstances, without classifying something by an different set of rules and penalties. I am not saying that steps should not be taken to assure protections towards the individual; but to cover a collective group with extended penalties is the issue at hand.

    For Example: Because Johnny was Black and Gay technically it becomes a double hate crime if his attacker was a member of the Arian Nation; but lets say Johnny attacked his ex boyfriend’s boyfriend: who was White and Catholic, and Johnny was a Protestant; Johnny doesn’t get charged with any hate crime. Quite possibly, the ex’s current bf could be charged with racial insensitivity under certain hate crimes legislation just for kissing his bf in the presence of Johnny or another straight person.

    6. Hate crimes legislation, as proven in New Mexico and other Countries around the world, is a slippery slope that tramples on the foundation of our rights as individuals to be free! It should be about Human Rights as a whole. We hold these truths to be self evident: That all men are created equal.”

    In my personal opinion, Barr is at least trying to meet US, the GLBTIQAS Community, halfway which is more than I can say for either of the other two *EDITED* running for the Office of President this year. Barr is not perfect but give him at least a chance and read/hear what he has to say/write, with an open mind. It is not the perfect answer, but it is a starting pointe to get there quicker.

    Sorry I am not normally this long winded.