Rep. Kirk: "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Has "Worked Out Well"

October 16, 2009 9:39 am ET — Matt Finkelstein

Since casting his vote for the American Clean Energy and Security Act in June, Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) has been under fire from the right wing of his party, which has labeled him a "RINO" and a "traitor." Kirk has responded by coming out against the cap-and-trade bill he helped pass, while taking a strong stand against Democratic proposals for health care reform. 

Still, Kirk has the reputation for being moderate, particularly on social issues.  He was endorsed last year by the Log Cabin Republicans, who noted Kirk's opposition to a federal marriage amendment.  "He is the lead Republican co-sponsor of the Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Hate Crimes Prevention Act and supports the Employment Non-Discrimination Act," the group added.   

Considering the fine line he's walking, it's no wonder Kirk hasn't been outspoken regarding his views on the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) policy.  Last month, a spokesman for the congressman commented briefly on the subject, saying that Kirk "agrees with President Clinton's policy."  He did not note that the former president has since argued that "this policy should be changed."  

This week, Kirk offered slightly more on his position:

He supports continuing the "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays serving in the military.

"I think it's worked out well," he said. "Keeping that all out of the workplace makes common sense."

But there's not much evidence that DADT has "worked out well." To the contrary, the facts indicate the policy is hurting the military:

Since 1994, the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy has resulted in the discharge of more than 13,000 military personnel across the services including approximately 800 with skills deemed 'mission critical,' such as pilots, combat engineers, and linguists. These are the very specialties for which the military has faced personnel shortfalls in recent years.

In addition to serving in Congress, Kirk is a commander in the Naval Reserve.  So, if he can explain how the military spending millions of dollars to fire thousands of able soldiers is a good thing, he should do so.  But given the facts, Kirk's "common sense" argument doesn't cut it.