Tuesday, July 22, 2008

PFLAG in USA Today

This morning's USA Today previews tomorrow's Congressional hearings on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

From reporter Andrea Stone's coverage:

Without this hearing, said former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman John Shalikashvili, "you will never repeal the law. It's a great idea." He is among more than 50 retired generals and admirals who have said it is time to rethink the policy.

No Pentagon brass are scheduled to speak at the hearing. Defense Department spokesman Geoff Morrell said several had answered questions at other hearings. "Not much has changed," he said. "It is still the law of the land."

The hearing comes as the volunteer armed forces struggle to retain troops to fight two wars. Changing attitudes are seen in polls such as one by The Washington Post, published Saturday, showing that 75% favor allowing gays to serve openly, up from 44% in 1993. . . . .

Democratic Rep. Ellen Tauscher of California, the lead sponsor of a bill to repeal the policy, said she knows what military leaders would say if they testified.

"The military leadership will tell you that this is the law they've been given to operate under and that's what they do," she says, "which is a very different question of off-line and off-the-record, 'Personally, admiral, what do you think?' That's the only way they could answer … differently."

Gay-rights advocates say they are disappointed at the Pentagon's no-show. "At a time when the military is relaxing every possible standard to attract new recruits, and at the same time is losing mission-critical specialists such as Arabic linguists, medical professionals and others, one would hope and expect that Defense Department leaders would be first in line to call on Congress to repeal the law," says Steve Ralls of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.

To read USA Today's full coverage, click here.

Update: You can discuss this morning's coverage, including John Shalikashvili's exclusive statement to USA Today, over at Pam's House Blend.

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