Elaine Donnelly, an anti-gay activist, made a fool of herself in front of a Congressional committee discussing the status of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
Donnelly treated the panel to an extraordinary exhibition of rage. She warned of “transgenders in the military.” She warned that lesbians would take pictures of people in the shower. She spoke ominously of gays spreading “HIV positivity” through the ranks.
Inadvertently, Donnelly achieved the opposite of her intended effect. Though there’s no expectation that Congress will repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell” and allow gays to serve openly in the military, the display had the effect of increasing bipartisan sympathy for the cause.
Rep. Vic Snyder (D-Ark.) labeled her statement “just bonkers” and “dumb,” and he called her claims about an HIV menace “inappropriate.” Said Snyder: “By this analysis… we ought to recruit only lesbians for the military, because they have the lowest incidence of HIV in the country.”
Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Pa.), a veteran of the war in Iraq, called Donnelly’s words “an insult to me and many of the soldiers” by saying they “aren’t professional enough to serve openly with gay troops while successfully completing their military mission.”
Sometimes the best thing you can do with people like Ms. Donnelly is hand them a shovel and let them keep digging.
Rep. Chris Shays (R-Conn.) pointed a finger at [retired Navy Capt. Joan] Darrah and glared at Donnelly. “Would you please tell me, Miss Donnelly, why I should give one twit about this woman’s sexual orientation, when it didn’t interfere one bit with her service?”
Donnelly said something about “forced intimacy.”
Shays cut her off. “You’re saying she has no right to serve her country because she happens to have a different sexual orientation than you.”
Shays, his voice rising with Yankee indignation, continued to lecture Donnelly: “I think the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy is unpatriotic. I think it’s counterproductive. In fact, I think it is absolutely cruel.”
Donnelly said something about her respect for the service of gay veterans. “How do you respect their service?” Shays demanded. “You want them out.”
Donnelly seemed to have unified the lawmakers — against her. The next questioner was Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.), a retired Navy vice admiral. “I couldn’t ask it better than you did,” he told Shays.
When DADT is repealed, as it will inevitably will be, we should send a dozen roses and a box of candy to Ms. Donnelly for all her help.