When the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy emerged as a political compromise under Bill Clinton in 1993, it only ended up worsening the destructive gay ban that had been on the books since World War II. Drawing on more than a decade of research and hundreds of interviews, Nathaniel Frank exposes the military’s policy toward gays and lesbians as damaging and demonstrates that “don’t ask, don’t tell” must be replaced with an outright reversal of the gay ban.
Frank is one of the nation’s leading experts on gays in the military, and in his evenhanded and always scrupulously documented chronicle, he reveals how the ban on open gays and lesbians in the U.S. military has greatly increased discharges, hampered recruitment, and—contrary to the rationale offered by proponents of the ban—led to lower morale and cohesion within military ranks.
Frank does not shy away from tackling controversial issues, and he presents indisputable evidence showing that gays already serve openly without causing problems, and that the policy itself is weakening the military it was supposed to protect. In addition to the moral pitfalls of the gay ban, Frank shows the practical damage it has wrought. Most recently, the discharge of valuable Arabic translators (who happen to be gay) under the current policy has left U.S. forces ill-equipped in the fight against terrorism.
Part history, part exposé, and fully revealing, Unfriendly Fire is poised to become the definitive story of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” This lively and compelling narrative is sure to make the blood boil of any American who cares about national security, the right to speak the truth, or just plain common sense and fairness.