CNN.com's opinion page has clearly sided with those supporting President Obama's proposed repeal of the U.S. military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy barring open homosexuals from the ranks. During the first five months of 2010, the website has published four columns pushing for the repeal and none from supporters of the policy. Two came from the executive director of a homosexual activist group.
The first of the editorials on CNN's website came on January 28, the day after the President's State of the Union address. Alexander Nicholson, the executive director and founder of Servicemembers United, a "national organization of gay and lesbian troops and veterans and their allies," praised Mr. Obama for doing "exactly what he should have done...in this venue" in making the repeal of the policy "a priority for his administration in 2010." He also labeled this call during the speech a "watershed moment." Later in the column, Nicholson disclosed that in 2002, "just six months after the September 11 attacks, I was honorably but involuntarily discharged" due to don't ask, don't tell.
CNN.com published a second column by the executive director on Thursday, titled "'Don't ask don't tell' deal is good for the country." Nicholson praised the recent deal "between the White House, the Pentagon, gay rights groups...and pro-repeal champions on Capitol Hill" as a "workable solution...[that] will get us where we need to go." He labeled the policy, which was codified into law by Congress during the 1990s, as "outdated and onerous."
The two other CNN.com columns in favor of the repeal of don't ask, don't tell were also written by open homosexuals. Joan E. Darrah, a retired U.S. Navy captain, told of her "secret life under 'don't ask, don't tell'" in a February 4 column, outlining how she and her "partner" of 19 years "had learned to deal with the policy and make the requisite sacrifices." She later disclosed how "the events of September 11, 2001...caused me to appreciate fully the true impact of 'don't ask, don't tell'" on her life and that of her "partner." Darrah concluded that she has "great love and respect for our country, but I know we can do better than 'don't ask, don't tell.'"
L.Z. Granderson, a columnist for ESPN.com and an "out sportswriter for years," devoted most of his April 19 column beseeching President Obama to repeal the "unjust" policy. While Granderson praised Obama for his April 15 memo asking the Department of Health and Human Services to write a regulation barring hospitals from denying the visitations of same-sex "partners" of homosexual patients, he asked the Democrat to extend his "compassion and companionship" to homosexuals inside the military:
The discussion of "don't ask, don't tell" is more than who feels comfortable sleeping in the same barracks as a gay guy. And it shouldn't be about strategizing when a demographic pawn should be moved in the partisan chess game that is Washington politics.
As you calculate the pros and cons of vigorously leading a repeal, I ask that you expand your equation to include the unjust toll this law has on the families of the men and women who voluntarily serve this country. Not just intellectualize, but allow your heart to truly empathize with the spouses and partners who do not get to hug or kiss their loved ones goodbye at the airport for what could be their last time together.
Close your eyes and feel the frustration of loved ones who recognize symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder but do not seek proper medical attention for their partner for fear of outing them. Allow your heart to feel for the children who lost a parent in a war zone but do not have access to the soldier's long-term pension to help support them in their absence because, well, the military could not know the fallen soldier's family even exists.
Like hospital visitation, don't ask, don't tell isn't a gay rights issue, it's a human rights issue. What is happening under your watch is no different from the times when black entertainers such as Gladys Knight or Otis Redding were not allowed to eat at the restaurants where they performed.
The cynic in me believes Thursday's memo is just a crumb to quiet the gay community's rumbling. The optimist in me still has the audacity to hope Washington hasn't changed you.
While CNN.com has certainly reported on conservative opposition to the repeal of don't ask, don't tell (such as their Wednesday article on the Family Research Center's report highlighting "homosexual misconduct" inside the military and how overturning the DADT policy would result in its increase), it certainly seems like they can't be bothered to ask supporters of the policy to contribute to their opinion section.