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Eye Opener: Immunity for gay service members?

By Ed O'Keefe

Eye Opener

Happy Thursday! Lawmakers want to give immunity to gay military service members that agree to testify at Congressional hearings about the "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) unveiled the measure Wednesday that would expand whistleblower protections between members of the military and lawmakers to include any instance when an active-duty member testifies about the Pentagon policy that bans openly gay people from serving in the military. It would also apply to service members that disclose their sexual orientation during a hearing.

The House and Senate armed services committees are likely to hold hearings on repealing the policy next year, Hastings said.

The Hastings bill -- which has 27 co-sponsors -- appears to be a backdoor way to make "don't ask, don't tell" illegal since current military whistleblower law grants protections to service members that want to report violations of law or policy to lawmakers, an inspector general or other Defense officials.

“I am extremely proud of the men and women who serve in our Armed Forces and truly appreciate the countless sacrifices they continue to make every single day to protect this nation and the American people," Hasting said. "They deserve better than Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and now is the time to take action."

The bill's fate is unclear and seems more designed to incrementally slide Congress into an eventual (inevitable?) repeal. Besides, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) said last month that a "don't ask" repeal will be included in next year's Defense authorization bill.

President Obama has taken hits from gay rights groups for appearing to drag his feet on repealing "don't ask" and the Defense of Marriage Act. Hastings noted Wednesday that he's reached out to the White House twice on the matter and has heard no response. He's not the only one.

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below

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By Ed O'Keefe  | December 3, 2009; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Eye Opener  
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no immunity...
if they are wiling to fight for what they want...
they have to be willing to pay for it...

Posted by: DwightCollins | December 3, 2009 6:40 AM | Report abuse

This conversation concerning President Obama's promise to lift, the so called, "Don't ask. Don't tell" policy and the effect of homosexuals serving openly in the Armed Forces is starved of understanding. To nourish your understanding of these issues, see:

Posted by: MAJUSMCRET | December 3, 2009 7:26 AM | Report abuse

This -should- be a "no-brainer," but from Mr. Collins' comment, obviously is not.

Given that there would be only a handful of people who would be testifying anyhow (a dozen maybe?), the idea of considering this a "backdoor" way of repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell is a VERY major stretch.

Congress has been doing a poor job of oversight of DOD activities in general since 2001, and providing "whistleblower" protection for a few people in order to get accurate information is hardly uncalled for.

Of course, what SHOULD happen is that DADT should be repealed, ASAP. President Obama has called for the increase of 30,000 troops to Afghanistan, and where are they going to come from? As it stands, about 1 out of every 8 recruits to the Army and Marines has needed waivers, in many cases for criminal activity, up to and including assault, drug dealing, rape, and manslaughter. In other cases, for lack of basic skills. Of course, in some cases, you have near-illiterate drug abusers with histories of violence. THAT's certainly a motivator for people who have lived normal lives to enlist, isn't it?

There is no GOOD reason that repeal of DADT cannot be included in the funding measures for the increase of our engagement in Afghanistan.

Posted by: edallan | December 3, 2009 8:11 AM | Report abuse

The so-called "understanding" that MAJUSMCRET posted via the URL he furnished is nothing but a homophobic rant complete with out of context bible quotes.
The comments at the end of the rant are even more vile and offensive.

Posted by: denroth | December 3, 2009 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Prior to the current policy of don't ask, don't tell, it was possible and fairly normal for military organizations to investigate military members to try to prove that they were homosexual. Don't ask, don't tell was an improvement on this policy--the services were not allowed to try to determine if members were gay and only gays could "out" themselves. If we want to move to the next level, we need to do more than "repeal don't ask, don't tell." We need a positive policy that clearly states that the military services cannot discriminate in any way against gays.

Posted by: bigtom6156 | December 3, 2009 10:08 AM | Report abuse

The current law ain't broke, and there's no need to fix it. None of the services is suffering from a lack of volunteer personnel who meet the current requirements.

Posted by: JMosesBrowning | December 3, 2009 10:16 AM | Report abuse

In my lifetime I have watched the legal framework justifying discrimination fall in so ways. But so many people stubbornly hang on to their need to discriminate against people for sexual preferences for their own sick reasons. I want to see that fall; I can't live too much longer so lets get it done.

Posted by: withersb | December 3, 2009 11:22 AM | Report abuse

I feel a lot safer with Gays in the Military than Muslims. How about we ban all Muslims from the Military? Especially ones like the terrorist that killed 14 people. Pretty stupid that our great leaders want to kick out Gays & lesbians but have no problem with TERRORISTS. Where is our politically correct Gen Casey for this.

Posted by: Meeche1 | December 3, 2009 7:28 PM | Report abuse

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