Pennsylvania Congressman Patrick Murphy (D-8th District), the first Iraq War veteran elected to Congress, will host a special order hour to discuss the negative impact of the discriminatory policy known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and the need to repeal it. The law, passed by Congress in 1993, prohibits gay, lesbian, and bisexual individuals from serving openly in the U.S. Armed Forces. It compromises national security and military readiness at a time when the U.S. is engaged in two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan .
Congressman Murphy is the lead sponsor of H.R. 1283, the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, a bill that would replace DADT with a policy of nondiscrimination throughout every branch of the services. There are currently 176 cosponsors on the bill. Rep. Murphy will be joined by a number of his colleagues on the floor of the House.
Special order speeches allow Members of the House of Representatives to speak on any topic they wish for periods of time reserved in advance.
This 60 minute event was broadcast on C-SPAN from 10 to 11 p.m. I tuned in and took some notes. This is not intended as a full transcript -- that may show up in the Congressional Record (not sure about this), but is simply to provide some idea of the flavor of the remarks.
Patrick Murphy: We have kicked out nearly 13,000 troops, in 2009 4,000 troops. We are desperate for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. They are kicked out not for sexual misconduct but just for being gay. The cost to our taxpayers 1.? billion dollars. It costs 60,000 dollars to train them and then they are discarded just for sexual orientation. DADT goes against the very fabric of what makes our country the greatest country on earth. There are 176 co-sponsors to this act. One is Tim Walz of Minnesota
Tim Walz: I served 24 years in uniform [blogger's note: I missed the rest of his comments.]
PM: 27 other nations allow gays to serve openly, UK, Israel, Aussies, with no detrimental effects. Gay men and women have been serving in our military for decades. [tells story of Marine serving in WW2 who was gay.]
Lois Capps of California.: P Murphy and other vets have credibility and are uniquely qualified to lead this cause. Military Readiness Enhancement Act. DADT is discriminatory, contradicts quality that US was founded on. Since 1993 over 12,000 people in military kicked out because of sexual orientation. We must speak out at any opportunity we can. The Palm Center at UC Santa Barbara is one of the groups working for this. Read Nathaniel Frank’s Unfriendly Fire, DADT has added to problems with recruitment, negatively affect unit cohesion.
PM: From Colorado Jared Polis, my sister and brother-in-law’s congressman.
Jared Polis: Efficacy of DADT by Om Prakash, won 2009 Sec of Defense National Security Essay. the military is a fighting force. If one considers just the cost of lost manpower it is 190.5 million dollars for previous 10 years. It also cost lives. Whenever we put something other than our best foot forward, making sure the most capable person is in the job …. need to implement repeal of the ban.
PM: Prakash: lessons to learn from other countries. In Canada before lifting ban 60% said wouldn’t serve with gays, similar in UK, after lifting ban, no effect whatsoever. Similar result sin other countries. No impact on military performance, readiness, cohesion or HIV rate among troops. DADT costly in terms of personnel and treasure. forces a compromise, places commanders in difficult moral dilemmas. No scientific evidence that unit cohesion will be negatively affected. See also Joint Force Quarterly. Introduces congresswoman from CA, Lynn Woolsey
Lynn Woolsey: DOD denies them respect they deserve, discrimination against gay service members. could be the best sharpshooter, best medic, best translator, but if openly gay he or she is fired. Denies our nation their service, makes our nation less safe. DADT is a failed policy, punishes service member that have been discharged and wastes tax dollars in training, housing, etc. invested in service members.
PM: introduce Mike Quigley of Ill.
Mike Quigley: gives two examples . DADT is so fundamentally hypocritical it asks Americans to put their lives on the line as long as they lie about who they are. References Gettysburg Address – when nation established, all created equal – did we really mean it?
PM: personal stories very powerful. I also have gotten letters from troops. One from a soldier in Afghanistan. When PM serving, 19 men didn’t return home, one committed suicide. Letter from Afghanistan, says support for military family members is closed off to spouses / partners of gays and lesbians, plus they have to worry about overheard phone calls or letters read by others. prevents leaders from giving their troops all the support they need. Intro Chellie Pingree of Maine.
Chellie Pingree: At least one individual a day fired because they are gay or lesbian. Does nothing to keep our country safe, in fact does the opposite. Learned of soldier whose partner died while he was deployed – could not actively grieve or tell his commander.
PM: Intro NY, Mike Acuri
Michael Arcuri: Affects all Americans, DADT is a blemish on our country. Proud to be a co-sponsor.
PM: Mike Arcuri says we should all weigh in and not leave it to those who serve. Only 23% of congress today has military experience, used to be much greater. Introduces Wisconsin congresswoman, Tammy Baldwin
Tammy Baldwin: Strongly supports HR 1283. When DADT passed it was intended as a compromise allowing gay and lesbian to serve, so long as they concealed or lied. We know it is unjust and discriminatory. Deprives our armed services of their skills. 59Aarabic or Farsi linguists and 800 necessary ??? in last 5 years. Can’t afford to lose more. [Gives an example]. Act would allow reintegration into military of those previously discharged.
PM: at West point 2000-2003. it costs taxpayers about 250,000 to train each cadet. One of my students, Arabic speaker, served in Iraq, discharged.
Jared Polis: Private businesses wouldn’t do this – spend money to train someone who does a good job but fire them because we don’t like who you date. No way to run a business or a country. Need to put our best foot forward militarily. Cost to taxpayers and our national security. Short sighted policy. how can it be argued that it makes our military stronger.
PM: Our military leaders, former joint chief of staff, John Shalikashvili, wrote an op-ed saying there is a generational shift in attitudes toward gays and lesbians. Evidence suggests enough time has passed to allow for review of this policy. Military has changed, gays and lesbians can be accepted by their peers. We must welcome eth serve of any American willing to do the job.
JP: cites others in favor of repeal.
PM: Colin Powell also says time to review policy. Now is the time to act. Vital to our national security.
From 11 p.m. to midnight one congressional representative talked. He started out talking about DADT and then veered off into talking about a hate crimes bill attached to the Defense Appropriations Bill. I have included his first few thoughts and then stopped as he had moved on to the other topic.
Louie Gohmert of TX: Not a matter of whether or not gays or lesbians in military but whether they openly practice homosexuality, in an openly offensive manner. Then starts talking about the attachment of a hate crimes bill to a defense appropriations bill. Says next step in accepting sexual orientation is accepting bestiality, children, corpses.