Nathaniel Frank talks gays in military tonight

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With a new president has come renewed attention on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the military’s ban on openly gay service members. Nathaniel Frank’s timing couldn’t have been better.

imageFrank, a professor, put his academic prowess to work in crafting “Unfriendly Fire: How the Gay Ban Undermines America and Weakens the Military,” which recently landed on shelves. He appears at Outwrite Bookstore & Coffeehouse tonight at 8 pm. to discuss the book and the policy he says is framed around “lies and deception.”

“I frame ‘Unfriendly Fire’ around the argument that it is based upon a policy of lies and deception, and has a clear cost, that while not tangible, and hard to measure, is undercutting the abilities of our armed forces,” Frank says.

In his book and several columns, Frank details how the current policy came into being and some of the unintended effects. He dismisses the arguments of “unit cohesion” and other negative effects gay men and women have on military readiness as the unwarranted justifications of homophobic leaders.

“The basis of the policy has changed from gays are bad soldiers, that they’re security risks, but that they cause problems for straight people,” he says. “At least the argument admits that it’s a problem with straight people not gay people, yet gays are the ones being punished.”

Frank’s no dull researcher, either. He recently went toe-to-toe with Jon Stewart on “The Daily Show” and earned his share of laughs from the crowd and appreciation from Stewart, himself no fan of the military’s ban. The video on the show’s website has been viewed more than 34,000 times since he appeared March 9. Listen to Frank’s joke about former President Clinton at about 3:45 in the video.

The New York Times recently weighed in on the book, too.

The core message of Nathaniel Frank’s book about the American military’s ban on being openly gay can be summed up in a single slogan: “ ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Don’t Work.” Mr. Frank has also been offering succinct five-minute synopses of his argument as he makes the rounds of the talk show circuit. So why does his book, “Unfriendly Fire,” need nearly 300 pages of text to make the same relatively simple points? Because he makes them so discerningly, so substantively and so well.

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