Skip to comments.GENERAL KEITH KERR A HILLARY PLANT ---> APPEARED ON CNN DEC 11, 2003
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From CNN Transcripts -> Dated 12-11-03 GENERAL KEITH KERR ON CNN 2 YEARS AGO. A DEFINATE PLANT ---> TWO TRANSCRIPTS FOLLOW.
December 11, 2003 Thursday
SHOW: THE FLIPSIDE 11:00 AM Eastern Standard Time
Gays In The Military: 10 Years Of Unfair Policies, CNNfn
GUESTS: Keith H. Kerr, Matt Coles
BYLINE: Kathleen Hays, Valerie Morris, Gerri Willis
LENGTH: 2596 words
KATHLEEN HAYS, CNNfn ANCHOR, THE FLIPSIDE: Let's get on to our big story, this year marks 10th anniversary of the "don't ask, don't tell policy", a bill intended to permit gays and lesbians to serve in the armed forces without fear of harassment or expulsion as long as their sexual orientation is kept private. But in a recent "New York Times" article, several formal service members who disclosed that they are gay criticized that the policy is ineffective. One of those men Retired Army Brig. General Keith H. Kerr joins us from San Francisco. And here in New York is Matt Coles, director of the Lesbian & Gay Rights Project for ACLU.
Gentleman we certainly welcome you both to THE FLIPSIDE. We are pleased you could both join us to discuss this topic.
I would like to get to you first General Kerr, what prompted your action, taking a stand on this at this point in time? BRIG. GEN. KEITH H. KERR, U.S. ARMY (RET.): Well, since 1993, approximate approximately 10,000 personnel have been discharged from our armed forces because they have been gay or lesbian. It's a tremendous waste of personnel, a tremendous waste of financial resources for the United States.
And these are loyal, brave Americans who want to serve their country and sexual orientation has no bearing on their ability to perform their jobs. These people were not discharged because of misconduct. They were discharged primarily because somebody learned they were gay or they were threatened or harassed. And we think we need to bring the armed services into the 21st century and update personnel policies.
VALERIE MORRIS, CNNfn ANCHOR, THE FLIPSIDE: I would like to you be able to explain to us, take us back and very briefly explain what it was intended to do. It's been ten years, as Gerri said earlier, I think so many people are so confused by that, "don't ask, don't tell". What was it intended to do and what is it actually doing?
MATT COLES, GAY & LESBIAN RIGHTS PROJECT, ACLU: Part of the problem with "don't ask, don't tell", is there was always sort of a difference between what I think the politicians told us it was intended to do, and what it really said.
What it really says and has always said, is not don't ask, don't tell and you can serve, it says don't ask, don't tell and never have an intimate relationship with anybody. Lead a completely celibate life, which is for most human beings just a ridiculous prescription.
And so what it was really designed to do was to keep gay people out of military and the business that you could serve as long as you were discrete about it, that's never the way the policy was written. And in fact it has functioned much the way the policy is written, it has resulted in scores and scores and scores of good, capable people who want to serve their country being thrown out of military to the military's great loss.
GERRI WILLIS, CNNfn ANCHOR, THE FLIPSIDE: Let's get back to the General for a minute. Matt Coles here saying that you have to deny an essential part of your human being, your person, to actually serve in the military if you were gay.
General, I want you to talk about what is it like serving in the military as a gay man and not being able to say that or talk about that? And tell us about the level of harassment as well. Are people continually hounded?
KERR: Not in all cases, people are not hounded. But there are some noncommissioned officers and some officers that are not interested in implementing, the "Don't ask, don't tell" policy and they will pursue or report somebody simply because they are suspected.
And you commented about what's it like, well, I grew up in a different culture. I grew up when one kept one's personal life to one's self. And I enjoyed the military. It did a great deal for me; it made me a better person. I had wonderful opportunities for military education, and to meet and serve under highly talented officers.
HAYS: I want to remind our viewers -- go ahead General Kerr; I didn't mean to interrupt you. Please finish your thought.
KERR: Basically, this policy is asking people to lie, to not talk about their home life, to conceal what they do on weekends. And if they develop a relationship with a significant other, they can't talk about it. I guess I could ask you, and all of the people in the studio, would you feel comfortable if you came to work and couldn't comment about your home life or about the people that you see when you are at home or away from work?
HAYS: Yes, that's a pretty -- when I hear you talk about this, I wonder to me that any person would then, if they were gay want to join the military.
Viewers, let us know what you think, 1-800-304-3638 and don't be afraid to ask your question or express your opinion. This is a contentious issue but it is obviously very important.
General Kerr, could I throw you back a quick question as well, on this network we also like to look at dollars and cents a lot. I think some people are sitting there thinking, Oh come on, but you know gay people are minority part of the population, it doesn't make that much difference. But is there some dollars and cents, is there some efficiency argument here about maybe why we were short changing ourselves if we don't welcome gay men and women in the military?
KERR: Absolutely, out of the 1,000 people discharged each year for enlisted training it cost approximately $30,000 to train a replacement. And so, over the 10 years, we're talking $300 million that our country has spent by eliminating gay and lesbian personnel from the service.
Even though they were doing a commendable job, perhaps one of the most notable incidents was a year ago when the Defense Language Institute at Monterey, California, dismissed seven Arab linguists. And this was the time when the president was getting ready to implement his policy in Iraq and we needed every Arab linguist that we could obtain. And that training is not 12 weeks, or a short period of time, that training goes on in excess of a year to train in Arab linguistics. So the waste of resources is egregious.
MORRIS: General, we have talked about the Monterey school here, we actually have done a couple of comments on it, because we found it a little bit alarming that if, in fact, in Iraq our mission is to try and be clear and definitive, we need interpreters, a significant number of interpreters, some third almost of at least one class from Monterey were gay and were dismissed.
Number one, is there an attraction for some reason, to go into the translator field for men and women who may happen to be gay? Maybe there are some circumstance that make it more appealing. But overall, how can our country look at a job that needs to be done and train people for sixty- three weeks with these language courses and then dismiss them because of lifestyle? Which is not their choice any more than their eye color.
COLES: I don't think - I think that the high percentage of gay translators in that group was just a blip, I think you'll find gay people in everything from command down to sort of lowest levels in the military.
And critical thing on your last question, is do we gain anything by this policy? Does this policy get us anything? You know the rationale for this policy was always very strange, it wasn't that gay people couldn't do their job or weren't perfectly good, the notion was that gay people made straight people so nervous, that if straight people thought there were gay people in their units that they wouldn't be able to do their jobs. And the so-called unit cohesion would fall apart.
Now the fascinating thing about this is, before this policy was adopted, the Pentagon went to the Rand Corporation and asked them to study the question and Rand came back and said, no, really letting gay people serve and serve openly wouldn't cause a problem. The line officers, middle management in the military really don't have a problem serving alongside gay people. There has never been a problem.
And in the ten years since then, the line people of the military now are all people who grew up in situations where they knew other gay people in high school. This is not an issue for rank and file in the service it is not an issue for middle management. It is just an issue for the top brass and Congress.
WILLIS: Well that was my question, is there a generational issue at some level here, whether where it is the top brass who aren't changing, who aren't going with the flow. And the problems are really less among younger people?
COLES: There is no question; it is a generational issue here. I think that it's not service members who are made uncomfortable and so nervous they can't do their jobs by the notion of gay people. It's over 60-year-old members of Congress and top brass who are so nervous that they can't do their jobs if they think gay people are around.
WILLIS: Well, lets ask the General that too, is this a generational issue, General? That you know the older members of the service the people who are in the top positions, now possibly are the most uncomfortable and younger people, it's just not a big deal to them?
KERR: I would agree with that. For many years, dislike of gay people has been part of the military culture. And I think it's time to change, when I was a young officer, I even told homophobic jokes until I realized it was wrong and later came to grips with my own sexuality.
The argument, of course, that our top military leaders put forth is that gay and lesbians will impair unit cohesions. Unit cohesion of course means the ability to work together, to train together, to bond into an effective fighting team.
But as we look around at other institutions in our society, the police departments, the fire departments, the FBI, the CIA, the sheriff's departments, those people now admit gays and lesbians to serve in their ranks. And there is no lack of unit cohesion. And certainly in the case of firefighters, they are frequently living in the same dormitory for as long as 72 hours. That's very common.
So, the argument about unit cohesion was advanced in 1947 when President Truman wanted to integrate the armed forces and bring Afro-Americans in. And the leading generals at the time said, Oh, it will impair unit cohesion. But President Truman went ahead and integrated the armed services and they've performed magnificently.
So, the same argument today that allowing gays to serve openly, because it will detract from unit cohesion is specious. And we think "don't ask, don't tell" should be repealed and in the meantime, we think the Pentagon should implement its anti-harassment program that was part and parcel of "don't ask, don't tell." And right now we think it's sitting on a shelf in the Pentagon gathering dust.
MORRIS: General, we are going to get a response from Matt Coles, and we also have a caller waiting on the line.
COLES: The General makes an excellent point and I just wanted to extend it. It is not only that our own police forces and fire departments function perfectly well with openly gay members, so do the armies of Israel, of Canada, of France. And England, fighting alongside us in Iraq, also allows openly gay people to serve. The notion that destroys unit cohesion it is just wrong.
MORRIS: Valerie from North Carolina, thank you for your patience. What is your question or comment?
CALLER: Well, the first thing I wanted to comment about was the General who said the lifestyle choice and then the gentleman just mentioned homosexuals fighting in combat in Israel and Canadian armies. And I appreciate that, because that was my second point, I was curious as to what other countries have homosexuals actively participating in their military and what type behavior or responses do they see.
But going back to the lifestyle choice, I was curious to know what other countries besides the top industrial nations, being Japan, Germany, France, Italy those countries, of you might say, the Third World countries, have a homosexual population? I always thought that was an interesting point, I never heard anything about. Because there always seems to be, if it's a lifestyle choice, then it's a lot different than being naturally born with this disposition. I was curious if anybody can comment on that.
MORRIS: Let Matt start for you, thank you.
COLES: I don't think there is any doubt, that there are lesbians and gay men in every country in the world from less industrialized countries like Mexico and some countries in South America, where they are very visible and strong gay rights groups, through much of Africa as well. Gay people are everywhere. And always have been historically.
I think the caller is right, that in some industrialized countries, we've gotten used to the notion that gay people are part of the fabric of our society and we've welcomed that. And there are other countries in world that haven't done that whether gay people are sort of visibly part of the family or suppressed they are there.
WILLIS: Can I get to a follow up on something the General brought up, you said this anti-harassment policy, you mentioned it was not pursued, it was "don't ask, don't tell, don't pursue". What happened to that? We have the translators that Valerie just mentioned that are being discharged.
General, can you address that?
KERR: Oh, well, I'm not certain about all of the cases there. In one of the cases in Monterey, perhaps that noncommissioned officer, an officer discovered an enlisted person in intimate contact with another enlisted person. But most of them are discharged based on the interrogation and harassment.
MORRIS: So, General and Matt, just a quick response from both so we're really clear on this. What if it is a heterosexual relationship in the military, and man and woman are caught, if you will. What is the repercussion versus if you are gay and you are caught? Doesn't it start this whole thing up, if you don't ask, you don't tell, but if you get caught, you are going to be out?
WILLIS: And that brings up the whole situation we had a few years ago we had a naval ship and all these women got pregnant on it. I mean, it is so just confusing.
COLES: Here is what the official policy and official law is, is that if two members of the service, man and women are involved in an intimate relationship the military asks, well, was relationship in effect some how either disruptive or dishonest? And if it was, then what are the circumstances is appropriate response?
And if it wasn't disruptive or dishonest nothing happens. If it was disruptive or dishonest, you get different levels of discipline depending on how bad situation was. In other words, you approach each situation on its own merits.
If you even are gay, much less whether you are involved with somebody else, if you just are gay, even if you are involved with a non-service member, you are out.
HAYS: OK, so, it doesn't see like it's exactly fair treatment. We have to leave it there. But I think it's -- as ten-year anniversary passes, seems like a debate that is being reopened and we look forward to addressing it with you in the future.
Matt Coles thank you so much.
COLES: Thank you.
HAYS: And Brigadier General Kerr, thank you for joining us, you have taken a very big step here and we appreciate you coming on THE FLIPSIDE today and discussing it with us.
KERR: Thank you.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 888-CNNFN-01 OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT WWW.FDCH.COM
PERSON: KEITH H KERR (91%);
COUNTRY: UNITED STATES (94%);
STATE: NEW YORK, USA (79%);
CITY: SAN FRANCISCO, CA, USA (54%);
SUBJECT: Business; U.S. Military; Gays & Lesbians; Gay Rights; "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" GAYS & LESBIANS (96%); DISMISSALS (87%); ANNIVERSARIES (78%); MISCONDUCT (72%); ARMED FORCES (68%);
LOAD-DATE: December 11, 2003
Transcript # 121101cb.l32
Copyright 2003 Cable News Network All Rights Reserved
December 11, 2003 Thursday
SHOW: AMERICAN MORNING 07:00
Gays in the Military
GUESTS: Brig. Gen. Keith Kerr, Rear Adm. Alan Steinman, Brig. Gen. Virgil Richard
BYLINE: Bill Hemmer
SECTION: News; Domestic
LENGTH: 711 words
HIGHLIGHT: Three retired military men who have come out and said they are gay discuss why they did it. They discuss why they don't agree with the military's don't ask, don't tell policy about gay people and how they would like to see things changed.
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: It's been 10 years since don't ask, don't tell became law for gays in the military, a controversial policy that has a number of critics. And among them, three high ranking officers now retired and now revealing that they are gay. Why, then, did these military men come out now?
Retired Brigadier General Keith Kerr is live in San Francisco. Retired Rear Admiral Alan Steinman is in Dupont, Washington. Retired Brigadier General Virgil Richard is with us today from Austin, Texas.
And gentlemen, good morning to you. We want to start with General Kerr in San Francisco.
BRIG. GEN. KEITH KERR (RET.), U.S. ARMY: Good morning.
It's the 10th anniversary of don't ask, don't tell and the three of us think that don't ask, don't tell is not working. It prohibits and discourages loyal Americans who want to serve their country from doing so, because they have to lie and conceal their personal life. And Americans who are interested in serving their country should be given the opportunity to do so.
HEMMER: Let me ask Admiral Steinman then...
KERR: In addition...
HEMMER: ... what do you want changed then?
REAR ADM. ALAN STEINMAN (RET.) U.S. COAST GUARD: Well, we'd like the law to be repealed by Congress. I mean we think the don't ask, don't tell law -- and it is a law, not just a military policy -- to be repealed. Furthermore, we would like the current policy on anti- harassment against gays and lesbians to immediately be enforced. That can be done without changing the law and we feel that harassment continues in the military now, even though gays and lesbians are permitted by the law to serve honorably. Oftentimes, the workplace is hostile and sometimes violent, and we think that needs to be addressed, and that could be done even without repealing the law.
HEMMER: The military sent us a statement. I'll read it and put it on the screen for our viewers and then we'll get a response from you gentlemen.
"The DOD homosexual conduct policy is based in law" -- the Department of Defense -- "Congress has stated that homosexual conduct poses risks to unit cohesion and readiness. The Department continues to work tirelessly to administer that law in a manner that is both fair and consistent."
To General Richard, then, how is the military less of a fighting force with this policy?
BRIG. GEN. VIRGIL RICHARD (RET.), U.S. ARMY: Well, I think the real issue is how soldiers do their jobs, not their sexuality. The policy is not working and it's not working because, as an example, in the "Washington Post" last week, the GAO found that the Army and the services are short many linguists and we kicked out 37 over the last couple of years that could have helped our Army. And it's just a waste of resources of what we're doing with gay soldiers. They don't enlist, they don't reenlist and we're just wasting the taxpayers' money.
HEMMER: All three of you gentlemen have told me it's not working, the policy needs to be dropped and the fact of the matter is you believe that right now the military is not well served by this. It appears to me from a distance all three of you men have had very successful military careers. You're now retired. It seems, General Kerr, that it's worked well for the three of you.
Am I wrong?
KERR: It worked very well for me. The Army made me a much better person. It gave me education, training, contact and the ability to serve with wonderfully talented officers and learn from them. So I'm so proud of my Army service and what the Army has done for me. And that opportunity ought to be available to all Americans.
My personal belief is that one can no more choose their sexual orientation than they can choose the color of their eyes, their hair or their full genetic makeup.
HEMMER: We want to thank all three of you this morning for being with us today.
General Kerr in San Francisco, Admiral Steinman there in Dupont, Washington and General Richard in Austin, Texas.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us today, all three with a significant story this past week.
Thank you, gentlemen. TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com
PERSON: KEITH KERR (92%); VIRGIL RICHARD (70%); ALAN STEINMAN (70%);
ORGANIZATION: US COAST GUARD (54%); US COAST GUARD (54%);
COUNTRY: UNITED STATES (95%);
STATE: CALIFORNIA, USA (93%); TEXAS, USA (79%);
CITY: AUSTIN, TX, USA (79%);
COMPANY: US COAST GUARD (54%); US COAST GUARD (54%);
SUBJECT: ARMED FORCES (95%); LEGISLATION (90%); GAYS & LESBIANS (90%); US FEDERAL GOVERNMENT (89%); ARMIES (89%); DEFENSE & MILITARY POLICY (78%); DEFENSE DEPARTMENTS (78%); ANNIVERSARIES (54%);
LOAD-DATE: December 12, 2003
Transcript # 121110CN.V74
Copyright 2003 Cable News Network All Rights Reserved
Yeah, I noticed that it was a bit too convenient for a homosexual activist to just happen to be in the audience.
The whole debate was a hit piece.
I’ll bet CNN won’t plant Kathleen Willey in the next Democrat convention...
They appered to want to use him to nuke Duncan Hunter but Hunter deflected it well.
Same here. It was obvious. The guy had a gay axe to grind, and CNN wanted to get him into the 'show'.
And he was given more mike time than the candidates.
Pole smokin’ in the military ain’t Kosher.
I am SHOCKED...SHOCKED I tell you that CNN would plant a questionnaire.
However, there were some pretty good questions, and some stupid ones. But then we are AMERICA where we protect even the stupid!
Ah, he doesn’t count. He fell flatter than a pancake.
That was my impression as well.
He is also on Hillary’s LGBT Steering Committee. Check out her site as proof.
When the General started asking his second question he was still going after Hunter and even mentioned him by name. Bill Bennet saying that he’s getting messages saying that the guy is the head of Hillary’s gay steering committee. That would be very interesting if true because it would certainly show that she’s afraid of Hunter.
His name is one her website.
If true it shows that Hillary wants Hunter out. The guy came out swinging at Hunter and even went after him in the second question he asked.