Do Ask, Do Tell

To the satisfaction of many Americans, LGBT or allied, President Barack Obama issued these words during his State of the Union Address: “This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are.”
Strong words indeed. It’s the first step, however, in repealing the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy that was implemented by the Clinton administration in 1993.
The National Lesbian and Gay Task Force is hosting its annual Creating Change Conference in Dallas this week. As many will remember, the conference was held in Kansas City in November 2006. No doubt the group of LGBT and allied activists — expected to be more than 2,000 strong — will be discussing efforts to stay on Congress to repeal DADT, among their many other priorities.
Rea Carey, executive director of the task force, issued this statement after the State of the Union speech.
Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is unnecessary, unfair and immoral. It undermines military readiness and discriminates against brave and patriotic men and women eager and willing to serve their country. We once again call upon the president and Congress to act quickly and decisively to finally repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. It’s long past time to place fairness above foot-dragging.
It’s nothing that will happen overnight. The president has asked the military to conduct a year-long study on repealing the ban. But at least it’s a start to ending the unfair policy of denying LGBT citizens the right to serve their country equally with their heterosexual neighbors.
Using Don’t Ask Don’t Tell as a means to promote his own agenda, Missouri State Sen. Bill Stouffer (R., Napton), issued a statement that said he would be holding a press conference in his office on Feb. 2 “to discuss his plan for Missouri’s response to President Barack Obama’s stated policy concerning Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell for America’s Armed Forces.” This media event held at the expense of Missouri taxpayers is just political posturing as the Republicans look for reasons to try to protect U.S. Rep. Ike Skelton’s opponent for his congressional seat, Vicky Hartzler.
Skelton, who is chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, is indeed a threat to conservative Hartzler’s campaign. Although he’s a Democrat, he does not support repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and has said he will not hold a full committee hearing. Skelton was in Kansas City on Jan. 28 to speak to the Rotary Club at the Muehlebach Hotel.
Doug Gray, a political consultant in Kansas City, along with the Four Freedoms Democratic Club, organized a press conference and rally at Barney Allis Plaza, across from the hotel, to launch a campaign among Kansas City and Missouri residents, calling on Skelton to hold a committee hearing and work to repeal DADT (see story on page 8). In Gray’s media release, he cited several statistics. Some of these survey results that Gray gave the media show that the American public and military are not as concerned as our government leaders have assumed:
Washington Post/ABC News, July 10-13, 2008
• 75 percent of Americans – including 64 percent of Republicans – think gays who publicly disclose their sexual orientation should be allowed to serve in the military.
CNN, May 4-6, 2007
• 79 percent of Americans think people who are openly gay or homosexual should be allowed to serve in the U.S. military.
Pew Research Center, March 2006
• 62 percent of moderate Republicans support open service, along with 85 percent of liberal Democrats.
• 67 percent of Catholics support open service, as do 53 percent of Protestants.
• 66 percent of Americans in the Northeast support open service and 58 percent of those living in the South do the same.
Zogby, Dec. 18, 2006
• 73 percent of military personnel are comfortable with lesbians and gays.
• 23 percent of service members know for sure that someone in their unit is gay, including 21 percent of those in combat units.
• 45 percent of military personnel suspect a member of their unit is gay.
Fox News, August 2003
• 64 percent of those polled support allowing gays to serve openly.
It’s time for Congress to do the right thing. Let’s not take a year. Hold the congressional hearings now and repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell before any other enlisted personnel are forced to resign.

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