Romney Military Adviser Wanted Separate Housing for Gay Troops


A military adviser to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney recommended housing servicemembers separately on the basis of sexual orientation. 

“I would not ask our Marines to live with someone that’s homosexual if we can possibly avoid it,” then Marine Commandant Gen. James Conway told Military.com in March of 2010. Conway, who retired in 2010, was among the big names listed on Romney’s Military Advisory Council, whose members were released by the Romney campaign on Wednesday. Conway cited the growing national debt and a desire to protect military spending as his reason for backing Romney. 

Conway, a vocal opponent of repealing the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy before and after he was succeeded by Gen. James Amos as Marine Commandant, elaborated on his logic in a press briefing at the Pentagon in August of 2010. “[W]e recruit a certain type of young American, pretty macho guy or gal, that is willing to go fight and perhaps die for their country,” Conway said. “We sometimes ask Marines, you know, what is—what is their preference. And I can tell you that an overwhelming majority would like not to be roomed with a person who is openly homosexual.”

The Pentagon’s report on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal did find higher levels of opposition among Marine combat arms units, who predicted a negative impact from allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly. Fifty-eight percent of those serving Marine combat arms units thought the policy would cause problems. But when asked about their actual experience of serving with comrades they believed to be gay or lesbian, the overwhelming majority of those servicemembers, 84 percent, said their ability to work together was “good,” “very good,” or “neither good nor poor.” Last month a study by the pro-gay rights Palm Center found no negative impact on morale, unit cohesion, or readiness from DADT repeal. Conway’s successor, Gen. Amos, who at first also opposed repealing the policy, said last year that implementing repeal had been a “non-event.”

Repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” hasn’t meant full equality for gay and lesbian military families, however. Federal law prohibits those families from receiving the same benefits as heterosexual ones. With Romney taking on people like Conway as military advisers, it’s doubtful he’ll see that as a problem.

LET’S TALK ABOUT OPTIMISM FOR A CHANGE

Democracy and journalism are in crisis mode—and have been for a while. So how about doing something different?

Mother Jones did. We just merged with the Center for Investigative Reporting, bringing the radio show Reveal, the documentary film team CIR Studios, and Mother Jones together as one bigger, bolder investigative journalism nonprofit.

And this is the first time we’re asking you to support the new organization we’re building. In “Less Dreading, More Doing,” we lay it all out for you: why we merged, how we’re stronger together, why we’re optimistic about the work ahead, and why we need to raise the First $500,000 in online donations by June 22.

It won’t be easy. There are many exciting new things to share with you, but spoiler: Wiggle room in our budget is not among them. We can’t afford missing these goals. We need this to be a big one. Falling flat would be utterly devastating right now.

A First $500,000 donation of $500, $50, or $5 would mean the world to us—a signal that you believe in the power of independent investigative reporting like we do. And whether you can pitch in or not, we have a free Strengthen Journalism sticker for you so you can help us spread the word and make the most of this huge moment.

payment methods

LET’S TALK ABOUT OPTIMISM FOR A CHANGE

Democracy and journalism are in crisis mode—and have been for a while. So how about doing something different?

Mother Jones did. We just merged with the Center for Investigative Reporting, bringing the radio show Reveal, the documentary film team CIR Studios, and Mother Jones together as one bigger, bolder investigative journalism nonprofit.

And this is the first time we’re asking you to support the new organization we’re building. In “Less Dreading, More Doing,” we lay it all out for you: why we merged, how we’re stronger together, why we’re optimistic about the work ahead, and why we need to raise the First $500,000 in online donations by June 22.

It won’t be easy. There are many exciting new things to share with you, but spoiler: Wiggle room in our budget is not among them. We can’t afford missing these goals. We need this to be a big one. Falling flat would be utterly devastating right now.

A First $500,000 donation of $500, $50, or $5 would mean the world to us—a signal that you believe in the power of independent investigative reporting like we do. And whether you can pitch in or not, we have a free Strengthen Journalism sticker for you so you can help us spread the word and make the most of this huge moment.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate