Eye Opener: Immunity for gay service members?
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.
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