Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) was one of only five House Republicans to support the repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy on gay servicemembers, which passed the House on a 234-194 vote last night. But Paul’s vote came as a bit of a surprise. An unabashed foe of gay marriage, Paul had a decidedly squeamish stance on gay rights—even prompting actor Sacha Baron Cohen to ambush the Texas Republican for his film “Bruno.” And Paul stated throughout his 2008 presidential campaign that he thought the military’s policy should stand, though he had some concerns about its enforcement.
When asked about DADT repeal in June 2007, Paul told CNN:
I think the current policy is a decent policy. And the problem that we have with dealing with this subject is we see people as groups, as they belong to certain groups and that they derive their rights as belonging to groups. We don’t get our rights because we’re gays or women or minorities. We get our rights from our creator as individuals. So every individual should be treated the same way.
So if there is homosexual behavior in the military that is disruptive, it should be dealt with. But if there’s heterosexual sexual behavior that is disruptive, it should be dealt with.
A month later, in an interview with Google, Paul responded similarly: “‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ doesn’t sound all that bad to me because as an employer, I’ve never asked them [employees] anything and I don’t want them to tell me anything.”
But while Paul said that he supported DADT in theory, he began to express some of his concerns about the policy. “I think the way it’s enforced is bad. Because, literally, if somebody is a very, very good individual working for our military—and I met one just the other day in my office, who was a translator—and he was kicked out for really no good reason at all. I would want to change that, I don’t support that interpretation.”
It’s encouraging that Paul has finally managed to fit DADT repeal into his ideological universe. (Former Republican—now independent—Florida Senate candidate Charlie Crist also flipped his stance to support the repeal, just days before the House vote.) And Paul’s reversal on the issue begs the questions as to whether his son—Kentucky GOP Senate candidate and Civil Rights Act skeptic Rand Paul—feels the same way.