Director of Communications
July 16, 2008
“Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Hearing to be Held
Washington, DC - On July 23 the Military Personnel Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing on the impact of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law banning service by openly lesbian, gay and bisexual service members. The hearing will be the first since Congress enacted “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” fifteen years ago.
“This hearing begins a conversation about the national security impact of losing qualified, capable service members,” said Aubrey Sarvis, Executive Director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) “We commend Congresswoman Susan Davis, Chair of the Military Personnel Subcommittee, for her leadership in reviewing this obsolete law.”
Scheduled to testify against “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” are U.S. Army Major General Vance Coleman (Ret.), U.S. Navy Captain Joan E. Darrah (Ret.), and former Marine Staff Sgt. Eric F. Alva.
General Coleman, who served as a Division Commander, sits on the SLDN Military Advisory Council. His decorations include the Purple Heart, Bronze Star and the Meritorious Service Medal.
Captain Darrah’s assignments included serving as Deputy Director of the Human Resources Directorate at the Office of Naval Intelligence. A graduate of the Naval War College, she also belongs to the SLDN Military Advisory Council.
Sergeant Alva was the first American wounded in Operation Iraqi Freedom. He served in the Marine Corps for 13 years.
Since its implementation in 1993, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" has resulted in the dismissal of more than 12,500 men and women from the armed forces. Nearly 800 of those dismissed under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” had skills deemed 'mission-critical' by the Department of Defense. More than 300 of those discharged were language specialists, including 58 Arabic linguists. The cost to U.S. taxpayers for maintaining the ban is estimated at more than $363 million.
“’Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ hurts military readiness and unit cohesion by discharging some of our best and brightest military personnel,” added Sarvis. “With America’s armed forces stretched thin, we urgently need a repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ and the passage of H.R. 1246, the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, which permits lesbian, gay and bisexual open service without discrimination.”
The hearing is scheduled to be held on July 23 at 2 PM in Room 2118 of the Rayburn House Office Building.
I'd like to see the Senate hold hearings also. Amy Klobuchar is not willing to sign on to legislation to repeal the ban on gays serving in the military. Why did she get endorsed by the Human Rights Campaign and Stonewall DFL?
Elwyn Tinklenberg has committed to co-sponsoring legislation to repeal DADT should he get elected to the house.
A new Washington Post/ABC News poll shows a sizable majority supports allowing gays to serve openly.
Seventy-five percent of Americans in a new Washington Post-ABC News poll said gay people who are open about their sexual orientation should be allowed to serve in the U.S. military, up from 62 percent in early 2001 and 44 percent in 1993.
Majorities of Democrats, Republicans and independents alike now believe it is acceptable for openly gay people to serve in the U.S. armed forces. Shortly after he took office in 1993, Clinton faced strong resistance to his campaign pledge to lift the military's ban on allowing gay people to enlist. At that time, 67 percent of Republicans and 75 percent of conservatives opposed the idea. A majority of independents, 56 percent, and 45 percent of Democrats also opposed changing the policy.
Today, Americans have become more supportive of allowing openly gay men and women to serve in the armed forces. Support from Republicans has doubled over the past 15 years, from 32 to 64 percent. More than eight in 10 Democrats and more than three-quarters of independents now support the idea, as did nearly two-thirds of self-described conservatives.
I encourage Lloydletta readers to call and write your representatives. Keith Ellison, Betty McCollum and Jim Oberstar are co-sponsoring the bill to repeal DADT. Several years ago, when I questioned John Kline about the topic, he said he thought gays should not be able to serve in the military at all (even if closeted). I asked him how he would enforce such a policy, and he didn't have an answer to that.
I also encourage people to write Senator Coleman and Klobuchar asking them to co-sponsor a measure like this in the Senate. This should be a no-brainer.