LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Rand Paul and Jack Conway have offered opposing views on the military’s controversial “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy pertaining to gay members of the armed forces. According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, Jack Conway was asked on September 24, 2010 whether gays and lesbians should be allowed to openly serve in the military. Conway answered “yes,” without elaborating on the issue.
The Herald-Leader also reported that Paul’s campaign answered the question with an email response from campaign spokesman Gary Howard. Howard reportedly said that Paul “believes this is a matter that should be decided by the leadership of the military, not through political posturing.”
Analysis of Jack Conway’s Position
Conway’s opposition to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” offers Paul more ammunition to brand Conway as a “liberal,” a four-letter word in Kentucky politics. However, Conway is a bit more difficult to categorize than Dr. Paul would have Kentuckians believe. Louisville’s Courier-Journal reports that Conway also supports federal anti-discrimination laws to protect gays and lesbians, but Conway will not support gay marriage. Conway explained in an April 1, 2010 primary debate that he believes marriage only occurs between a man and a woman.
Conway’s positions confuse me. I do not understand allowing gays and lesbians to openly and proudly serve in the armed forces while barring them from marrying the person of their choice. Conway does not explain what prevents him from being more progressive on gay rights and why he chooses to draw the line at gay marriage.
Conway’s position will help him in Louisville and Lexington, the two largest cities in the Commonwealth, and also the most liberal areas in Kentucky. As of September 26, 2010, Reclearpolitics.com reports average polls results of 48% for Paul and 42.2% for Conway, representing a tightening of the race since Paul led by almost nine percentage points after the May primaries.
Analysis of Rand Paul’s Position
Paul’s position on this issue is no less confusing than his opponent’s stance. Paul styles himself as a libertarian-leaning Republican, and his official website rails against warrantless wiretaps and the Patriot Act. Voters may assume that an individual emphasizing freedom and liberty would rally to support those who only wish to serve in the military without hiding who they are. What difference does it make whether a soldier is gay or straight? The military has every right to prevent soldiers from entering into relationships with other soldiers, but it has no right to deny entry based solely on one’s sexual preferences.
Paul has found himself in hot water with previous statements on The Rachel Maddow Show that he would not have supported the Civil Rights Act. I suppose considering the context of those statements, his failure to take a stand on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is not surprising. His stance appears to be designed to strengthen his support from the right-wing of the Republican Party and to assure voters that he is not a true libertarian.
Jack Brammer, Conway, Paul offer divergent views on ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’, Lexington Herald-Leader
Joseph Gerth, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Jack Conway leans left, but not on all issues, Courier-Journal
Kentucky Senate – Paul v. Conway, realclearpolitics.com
Issues: Privacy and Liberty, randpaul2010.com
Krissah Thompson and Dan Balz, Rand Paul comments about civil rights stir controversy, Washington Post