Secretary Fanning Says DOMA Helped DADT Repeal

Under Secretary of the Air Force Eric Fanning, who was Acting Secretary for a few months, recently gave an interview for a homosexual ‘special report’ of the National Journal in which he discussed the effects of repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” on the military. Largely, he continued his prior statements that while he thought the policies were bad, repeal was apparently met with a collective shrug.

He did have one interesting comment, however, in which he said the federal Defense of Marriage Act actually made repeal of DADT easier: 

I think DOMA was an awful law, but it helped smooth, I think, the repeal of DADT. Its existence took a number of issues off the table that were outside the scope of our control as the Department of Defense — some of the more contentious issues, like spousal benefits. So we were able to break [the repeal process] into two parts.

It’s a fascinating remark, particularly coming from a public policy official. Much of the opposition to repeal was framed in ‘worst case’ social scenarios based on what Secretary Fanning called “contentious issues.” Those scenarios were dismissed out of hand because DOMA made them moot, so critics were “reassured” that those scenarios would not be an issue.

Once DADT was repealed, DOMA was targeted next, and those “contentious issues,” once dismissed as a non-issue, became reality.