Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Straight, But Not Narrow, In The House

In what will surely be remembered as a pivotal moment in our country's quest to live up to its promise of "liberty and justice for all," the House Armed Services Committee's Subcommittee on Personnel held a hearing on Wednesday to debate the federal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" ban on lesbian, gay and bisexual service members. The hearing, which was the first in the 15 years that the military's ban has been on the books, marked an important turning point in the fight for equality in our armed services.

Three military veterans - one of the Army's first African-American Generals, the first service member wounded in Iraq and a Navy Captain who was at the Pentagon on September 11, 2001 - told members of the committee that the time has come to repeal this law, and told their own stories of why they so fervently believe in ending "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

Chaired by Congresswoman Susan Davis (D-CA), (pictured) the hearing stood in stark contrast to the 1993 debate over gays in the military. Gone were the short-sighted defenses of the law by Pentagon leaders (who chose not to show up and argue for maintaining the ban) . . . the doom and gloom predictions that previously accompanied discussions of open service . . . and the line-up of military leaders calling for exclusion of gay troops. Indeed, Wednesday's debate was set against the backdrop of a changing landscape for LGBT troops, with more than five dozen retired officers having endorsed repeal, and a new poll showing that an overwhelming majority of Americans - 8 out of 10 - care more about performance than sexual orientation.

Continue reading PFLAG's account of the hearing online at . . .

Photo by Rudy K Photography.

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