Representatives Andre Carson, Brad Ellsworth, Pete Viscloskey, and Baron Hill, all voted in favor of repealing the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy tonight, a measure which passed out of the House by a 234-194 margin. At the same time, Politico.com reports a similar measure in the Senate passed out of the Armed Services Committee, 16-12, with the assistance of Senator Evan Bayh.
Carson stated, "Any patriotic American willing to give his or her life in defense of country should have that opportunity. And our troops should never be forced to lie about who they are in order to continue their service. Today’s vote will help ensure this kind of personal conflict is never an issue for the brave men and women in our military.”
The only Democrat who voted against the measure in the House delegation was Represenative Joe Donnelly. According to the Louisville Courier-Journal, Donnelly said earlier today that he would vote no to any effort to change the law before the Defense Department had finished its review.
Donnelly stated, "I value the expertise and experience of our military leaders and first want to know their thoughts on the matter."
The problem is that there will be some at the DoD who are against the repeal, and some, such as General Colin Powell, who favor it. Waiting for what may be an only mildly favorable report or an ambivalent one would be seized upon by opponents to short-circuit the entire effort. In other words, Donnelly's position was cowardice covered in military deference crap, in my opinion.
You may say, "Aha! iPOPA just admitted that some GENERALS may tell you this is a bad idea." In response, I would tell you, yeah, this wouldn't be the first time some generals opposed an idea of a commander-in-chief, and I would refer you to the dialogue from one of my favorite scenes of The West Wing, where John Amos, playing Percy Fitzwallace, the African-American Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is talking to some lesser officers about their feelings on letting gays serve openly:
Major Tate: Sir, we're not prejudiced toward homosexuals.
Admiral Percy Fitzwallace: You just don't want to see them serving in the Armed Forces?
Major Tate: No sir, I don't.
Admiral Percy Fitzwallace: Because they pose a threat to unit discipline and cohesion?
Major Tate: Yes, sir.
Admiral Percy Fitzwallace: That's what I think, too. I also think the military wasn't designed to be an instrument of social change.
Major Tate: Yes, sir.
Admiral Percy Fitzwallace: The problem with that is that's what they were saying about me 50 years ago - blacks shouldn't serve with whites. It would disrupt the unit. You know what? It did disrupt the unit. The unit got over it. The unit changed. I'm an admiral in the U.S. Navy and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff...beat that with a stick.
I'm guessing Donnelly isn't a fan of Harry Truman, who desegregating the military when 87% of Americans, including a supermajority of its military personnel, opposed the decision.
Sorry, Joe, but we have a civilian-led military, and if Congress and the Commander-in-Chief say gays and lesbians can serve openly, the generals will use their expertise to implement the policy, not to decide it.