In today's Wall Street Journal (available online only to subscribers), Bob Barr comes out against "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and lambastes the Republican presidential field for timidity on the issue:
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 gives several reasons for his change of mind on the issue -- unnecessary invasion of privacy through intrusive investigations, the drain on personnel in a time of war, the wasted tax money, and the fact that attitudes toward gays have softened both within and outside the military since 1993. The arguments are not new ones; the piece is noteworthy chiefly for its author and the place of publication.