Skip to comments.Republican lawmaker urging end to `don't ask, don't tell' policy
Posted on 04/10/2005 1:21:43 PM PDT by Pikamax
Republican lawmaker urging end to `don't ask, don't tell' policy
BY STEVE ROTHAUS
Knight Ridder Newspapers
MIAMI - (KRT) - At odds with her party's leadership, Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida is urging the Pentagon to end ``don't ask, don't tell'' and allow gay men and lesbians to join and remain in the military.
``We've tried the policy. I don't think it works. And we've spent a lot of money enforcing it,'' said Ros-Lehtinen, a member of the Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations, who became a co-sponsor of the bill on Tuesday.
``We investigate people. Bring them up on charges. Basically wreck their lives. ... People who've signed up to serve our country. We should be thanking them,'' she said.
Although her support won't change the law overnight, it represents a dramatic break with GOP leadership over a hot-button issue that has split the party and the nation.
Ros-Lehtinen, along with House Republicans Christopher Shays of Connecticut and Jim Kolbe of Arizona, joins 70 Democrats in support of the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, introduced by Rep. Marty Meehan, D-Mass., last month to repeal the longtime gay ban.
``Don't ask, don't tell'' became law in 1993, a compromise after President Bill Clinton sought to relax military policy and allow gays to serve openly. The law, which easily passed in both the House and Senate, prohibits commanders and investigators from prying into a service member's sex life, but calls for military discharge if someone in the armed service acknowledges he or she is gay.
``It doesn't make any sense,'' Ros-Lehtinen said of the ban. ``There's no scientific evidence that sexual orientation has an effect on the ability to perform as a military officer or a buck private.''
For several years, Ros-Lehtinen has taken a leadership role in backing pro-gay legislation. She has co-sponsored or supported:
_A federal hate-crimes act.
_A bill that protects gays from federal employment discrimination.
_Laws that increased funding for HIV/AIDS prevention.
Nearly 10,000 men and women have been discharged under ``don't ask, don't tell,'' which has cost the U.S. government more than $200 million to enforce since passage in 1993, according to the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network , a Washington gay-rights group.
Last week, an Army sergeant who was awarded a Purple Heart after being wounded in Iraq publicly disclosed his homosexuality. He risks going to jail and an early discharge from the service.
``I know a ton of gay men that would be more than willing to stay in the Army if they could just be open,'' Sgt. Robert Stout, 23, told The Associated Press. ``But if we have to stay here and hide our lives all the time, it's just not worth it.''
Ros-Lehtinen, 52, said the military ``should get the best men and women regardless of their sexual orientation.''
``It doesn't seem the best military tradition to exclude people because of their sexual orientation,'' she said. ``They can serve with as much distinction as anyone else.''
Ros-Lehtinen's husband, former acting U.S. Attorney Dexter Lehtinen, 59, was awarded a Purple Heart for severe facial injuries he received during Army combat in Vietnam. And her stepson, Douglas Lehtinen, 28, is a Marine officer scheduled to be deployed this summer to Iraq.
``We've had these discussions in our family,'' Ros-Lehtinen said. ``Douglas would have no problem serving alongside anyone who's capable.''
``In Iraq and Afghanistan we are fighting alongside coalition forces that have in them gay men and women,'' Ros-Lehtinen said. ``England is actively recruiting gay men and women to join their armed forces.''
Ros-Lehtinen said she has heard the arguments against allowing them to serve (straight men not wanting to shower with gay men, etc.) and that they're ``ludicrous.''
``It's the same kind of talk we heard about women serving in the military and African Americans,'' she said.
Congressmen Alcee L. Hastings, D-Fla., and Robert Wexler, D-Fla., also are co-sponsors of lifting the gay ban.
``If you're in the military, the only concern should be if you shoot straight - not if you are straight,'' Hastings said.
The bill - which has no companion legislation in the Senate - has a long way to go before becoming law. First, it needs to get out of committee.
``The odds are very small, unless the top military brass would embrace it,'' Wexler said. ``When was the last time it snowed in South Florida?''
U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., who chairs the House Armed Services Committee, has consistently voted against gay-rights issues, according to Human Rights Campaign, a pro-gay Washington group that ranks lawmakers on a scale of 0 to 100, 100 being the highest level of support.
Hunter ranks 0; Ros-Lehtinen ranks 86, according to HRC's 2004 report.
Two years ago, HRC sent Ros-Lehtinen a thank-you note for ``the totality of her record, not just one vote.''
Ros-Lehtinen ``has really taken a leadership issue on repealing the military's gay ban among Republicans,'' said Steve Ralls, communications director for the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.
``Her endorsement, her sponsorship of the bill, is going to lead a lot of other moderate Republicans in the House to come on board,'' he said.
Perhaps, but it's unlikely Ros-Lehtinen will sway conservative GOP leaders including House Speaker Tom DeLay.
``The other side has been systematically, over time, desensitizing the American people into thinking that this is an acceptable lifestyle. It is not acceptable,'' DeLay told The Miami Herald in a 1998 discussion about gay rights. ``It is wrong. It is dangerous. It destroys families. It destroys people.''
Ros-Lehtinen says she will staunchly support the repeal until it happens.
``It's a process - a learning process. It takes a long time to get people to change their minds. I don't get frustrated. If I did, I wouldn't keep talking about the Cuban embargo every day.''
Given what's come out of FL lately, anything political from the FL politicians should be viewed with a jaundice eye.
Lets, see. The last two are gay, who wants to bet that Ros-Lehtinen is a lesbian?
Wouldn't America's enemies love homosexuals to serve in the military? Actually, maybe it isn't such a bad idea. They don't reproduce.
When will the Congress stop worrying about QUEERS and start worrying about ILLEGAL MEXICANS ????
Clearly these moronic twerps never had to share a shower with a raging queer.
Both are a problem. One spells the end of our military as we know it. The other spells the end of our country as we know it.
Of course, if the military ends as we know it, so will our country.
First of all, I will defer to active duty military on my opinion, but I think that when the military is kicking out interpreters (which we desperately need at this time) just because they are gay, that is a problem. I am for extremely strict sexual harassment guidelines (heterosexual and homosexual), and I can see the ban on homosexuals in a Navy, at sea, situation, but let's face it, even homosexuals are Patriotic Americans, and if they truly want to serve, why are we turning them away?
As I said, I am ready to be persuaded, but I spoke to my husband about this (former infantry in US Army), and he reluctantly agrees. Especially after the Air Force Academy scandals, what's the difference between sexually charged cadets going after females or males. Shouldn't we just punish wrong doers, and accept the good ones with praise, regardless of their sexual orientation?
The Don't ask don't tell policy never contravened the Law
which remains Homosexual behavior is Not consistent with military service. That being said I nver had any problems
serving alongside homosexuals.When they got stupid -or drunk
and made the mistake of trying to hit on me-- I beat the
fear of God into them. The Manuel for COurts -Martial
United States 1984(1994 edition ) is essentially what it was
when I was on active duty.AndHomosexual behavior is still a
freaking crime. (Articles 120 & 125. Are essentailly as they were when I was active duty.)
Sgt. Robert Stout, 23, told The Associated Press. ``But if we have to stay here and hide our lives all the time, it's just not worth it.''
How long before this "bonedancer with Mr. Sphincter" is treated to a code red?
There is a good reason for not allowing practicing homosexuals to serve in the military.
As your husband if we would like a battle field transfusion from a practicing homosexual.
When I read the title I assumed some Republicans wanted to end don't ask - don't tell and go back to the old system of incarcerating homosexuals in the military. I'd be all for that. Clinton gave us DADT. All through the Clinton administration I read stories about the military being unable to meet recruitment quotas, and it continues today.
There are many other concerns of blood born illnesses, besides HIV, that in the end I would take an alive HIV carrier (if my husband ever needed an in battle transfusion) than a dead husband. As someone who has worked in the health care field for 15 years, I can guarantee I am much more at risk than he is.
I prefer to limit my risks.......
!Gracias Ileana! No te preocupes. Los Cubanos en Miami siempre te apoyan. Como antes, tu siempre enseñas que el partido Republicanao no es racista ni hipocrita. Ahora algunos fanaticos no le van a gustar lo que tu propone. Que vidas mas tristes tienen las personas que sieran sus mentes a cambios.
What do you think happened in those instances? A bunch of Arabic-speaking interpreters outed themselves and got discharged from the military when we needed them to fight against Muslim extremists. I don't know the answer but the options that present themselves aren't pretty.
What if they limited homosexuals to certain jobs in the military (intelligence, etc.) would you be any more inclined to agree with me? I have more problems with females being in the battlefield, and close quarter situations than I do homosexuals. Although I may be the exception to the rule, I happen to know a few lesbians, and none have ever come on to me, I only wish I could say that about all the heterosexual men I know :>
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