|If you wonder why the Democrats can‚Äôt get anything done, it‚Äôs Neanderthal‚Äôs like Ike Skelton that make progres difficult.
Lobbyists and activists trying to repeal ‚ÄúDon‚Äôt Ask/ Don‚Äôt Tell‚ÄĚ (DA/DT) are seeing gradual progress toward that end. It is a long process as the wheels grind on slowly but surely. Unfortunately some Congressional Democrats are still dragging their feet. ‚ÄúThis is the beginning of the end of a shameful ban on open service by lesbian and gay troops that has weakened our national security,‚ÄĚ said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. ‚ÄúThe stars are aligning to finally restore honor and integrity to those who serve our country so selflessly.‚ÄĚ
The language of the amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act ‚Äď which is supported by President Obama and military leadership ‚Äď allows Congress to vote now to repeal the current DA/DT law with actual repeal occurring after completion of the Pentagon Working Group study due December 1, 2010 and upon certification.
‚ÄúAmericans recognize that on the battlefield, it does not matter whether servicemembers are gay or straight; what matters is that they get the job done,‚ÄĚ said Solmonese. ‚ÄúThose who wish to preserve discrimination in our military will continue to fight this progress, but we will be there every step of the way to ensure that qualified men and women are allowed to serve their country, regardless of sexual orientation.‚ÄĚ
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), a national, legal services and policy organization dedicated to ending DA/DT, responded after a Pentagon spokesperson confirmed to the Denver Post that investigations and discharges of gay and lesbian servicemembers will continue. Cynthia Smith, a Pentagon spokesperson, said: ‚ÄúThe law is still in effect, and if someone were to out themselves, we would have to begin the discharge process.‚ÄĚ SLDN issued warnings to gay and lesbian servicemembers before and after the recent House floor and Senate committee votes on an amendment that would allow for the repeal of the law. Gay and lesbian servicemembers with questions are urged to contact the SLDN hotline (202) 328-3244 x100 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Any servicemember with questions about DA/DT can schedule an appointment for free, confidential legal advice with an SLDN attorney.
‚ÄúThe Pentagon is being very clear that they will continue the discharges and gay and lesbian active-duty servicemembers, including those in the reserves and the National Guard, remain at risk,‚ÄĚ said SLDN Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis. ‚ÄúEven with the recent votes in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate Armed Services Committee, the discharges are continuing. Qualified men and women of our armed forces will continue to be fired from their jobs, and it is putting our national security at risk. And even despite the new ‚Äėmore humane‚Äô Pentagon Instructions, we are aware of an ‚ÄėO-7‚Äô ‚Äď a one-star general ‚Äď signing off on a discharge very recently.‚ÄĚ He emphasized, ‚ÄúCongress and the Pentagon need to stay on track to get repeal finalized, hopefully no later than first quarter 2011.‚ÄĚ
Meanwhile, on June 8, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Representative Ike Skelton, a conservative Missouri Democrat, said he thought the ban should remain on openly gay and lesbian servicemembers with his reasoning that he does not want to open a national discussion about homosexuality. He stated that he believes any debate in Congress over the proposed repeal of DA/DT might force families to explain homosexuality to their children. Unbelievably, he is afraid to talk about the fact that gay people exist. Not just gays in the military; but gays ‚Äď period.
‚ÄúWhat do mommies and daddies say to their seven-year-old child?‚ÄĚ Skelton asked rhetorically in front of reporters during a press breakfast.
This claim, despite the fact that LGBT rights groups argue and can prove that the United States is much more comfortable talking about homosexuality than in the past.
The House voted 234-194 a month ago to overturn the 17-year-old ban.
Skelton was among the 26 Democrats who joined 168 Republicans in opposing the bill.
Representative Joe Sestak of the Armed Services Committee, retired Navy Admiral, also a Democrat but from Pennsylvania, commented on MSNBC news, ‚ÄúI have been shaped by my experience in the military, and in a number of ways I strongly disagree with Ike Skelton on this issue.‚ÄĚ He said, ‚ÄúFirst, I‚Äôve learned that everyone is treated equal and is equal ‚Ä¶ whatever your orientation is. Second, I think we should leave it to families to discuss how they want to have an exchange with their children.‚ÄĚ He continued, ‚ÄúIt is the military‚Äôs responsibility to protect and save families, and the best way we can do that is have the best of the best. This isn‚Äôt just a matter of equality; it‚Äôs a matter of being able to do our job even better ‚Äď particularly at a time of two wars.‚ÄĚ He said his experience in the service had been whenever servicemembers were about to approach him to disclose their sexual orientation, he stopped them immediately ‚Äď for their protection. He recalled, ‚ÄúYou wanted to tell them: ‚ÄėPlease don‚Äôt tell me; you‚Äôre too good.‚Äô‚ÄĚ
Even though Skelton told reporters that no one in his district and none of his constituents have actually raised the issue of discussing homosexuality within families, he remains firm in his belief that any such discussion is not family-friendly enough. ‚ÄúMy biggest concern are the families,‚ÄĚ Skelton reiterated. So 14,000 servicemembers have to be fired, according to his logic.
Sestak concluded, ‚ÄúWe are going to be better once ‚ÄėDon‚Äôt Ask/ Don‚Äôt Tell‚Äô is finally thrown out.‚ÄĚ He said the repeal process could be accomplished much more quickly ‚Äúwithout a question, and I asked Secretary Gates that.‚ÄĚ He noted, ‚ÄúWe‚Äôve gone through matters of equality before ‚Äď from African Americans to women in combat positions. And we can readily take those lessons learned in within what I believe are a few short two months to implement this.‚ÄĚ Sestak pointed out, ‚ÄúAdmiral Mullen said it very well: you are asking people to lie, and this is an institution that prides itself on its integrity and accountability.‚ÄĚ