Framing the Conversation

From the outset, the Palm Center emphasized not just conducting research, but leveraging it aggressively to inform public opinion and national policy conversations. A key challenge was how to create salience, and momentum for change, on an issue that few constituencies seemed to care about. We knew that research mattered to policymakers, officials, and many journalists, but research was not always interesting or accessible to the general public, and it often was insufficient to make news itself. The solution was to develop a sophisticated communications strategy that would attract attention to a continuous supply of new studies showing that discrimination harms military readiness.

Since inclusivity has been shown to improve military readiness, simply telling the truth about what the research says can go far toward advancing just and effective policies. But since facts on their own aren’t enough to make change, they must be made to matter through their relentless infusion into the public conversation. Message saturation, when rooted in research, makes it harder to dispute an evidence-based claim, such as that inclusion strengthens readiness, or that discrimination undermines it. By forcing the matter and informing public opinion over time, we helped shape the political context for the overturning of military bans.

Below are examples of Palm’s most effective framing and communications work. The full collection remains available throughout our website.

Tenth Anniversary of DADT Repeal a Good Time to Reflect on Victory of Facts over Fear, September 20, 2021 (Military Times)

Biden Policy on Transgender Troops Explained, April 6, 2021

Substantial Majority of Americans Supports Transgender Military Service, July 21, 2019

Aaron Belkin on The Rachel Maddow Show, April 2019

A Growing Problem for the Military Transgender Ban: Facts, April 29, 2018 (New York Times)

Breaking Down the March 23, 2018 Transgender Military Ban, March 27, 2018

Discharging Transgender Troops Would Cost $960 Million, August 2017

Caring for Our Transgender Troops: The Negligible Cost of Transition-Related Care, 2015 (New England Journal of Medicine)

A Military Success Story, September 15, 2012 (New York Times)

Lessons Learned From the Service of Gays and Lesbians in Allied Militaries, May 19, 2010

Gay Soldiers Don’t Cause Disruption, Study Says, February 21, 2010 (New York Times)

Nathaniel Frank on The Daily Show, March 9, 2009

General John Shalikashvili Says Integration Will Not Harm U.S. Military, January 2, 2007 (New York Times)

Pentagon Memo: Homosexuality A Disorder, June 20, 2006 (Associated Press)

Canning Gay Linguistics.  Stonewalled, January 24, 2005 (The New Republic)

More Gay Linguists Discharged Than First Though, January 13, 2005 (Associated Press)

Rumsfeld’s Claim That Pentagon Would Never Lie Seen as Untrue, February 27, 2002

Gays in the British Military: Ask, Tell and Then Move On, February 10, 2001 (New York Times)