Rep. Honda drives point home on don't ask don't tell
That letter from Republicans about how they're going to grind stuff to a halt in the Senate has me more than a little concerned about the prospects for repeal of don't ask don't tell. The importance of legislative action instead of judicial action was underscored by Defense Secretary Robert Gates during the release of the long-awaited Pentagon study.
Rep. Michael Honda (D-Calif.), the five-term congressman who is also the vice-chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, agrees in a letter to the editor he sent in response to my blog post on Gates's blunt message to the Senate and Sen. McCain. He gives me a nice shout-out, but the point of the piece is that "Congress has a great responsibility" to get this done.
In "Sec. Gates's blunt message to the Senate and Sen. McCain" (11/30/10), Jonathan Capehart rightly calls for Congress to act on repealing the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. I couldn't agree more.
This year, historic steps have been taken to end the misguided Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT) policy. U.S. District Judge Virginia A. Philips declared the policy, and its deliberate exclusion of openly gay service members, a violation of the Constitution. The House included a repeal of DADT in its version of the Fiscal Year 2011 National Defense Authorization Act, a repeal for which I voted. The Pentagon released its long awaited study of the repeal's effect on service members, in which a clear majority of service members say the repeal will not harm the military.
Capehart's assessment that a repeal of DADT should be accomplished legislatively, instead of through judicial decree, is spot on. As an elected body, Congress has a great responsibility to move on a legislative repeal, without conditions. It is my hope that this discriminatory policy is ended soon.
Whenever anyone serves our country, regardless of their race, sex, socio-economic status, religion, or sexuality, we should honor and support their service, not force them to hide their identity in shame.
I am hopeful that after wise and thoughtful deliberation, the Senate will reconsider and pass a Defense Authorization Bill that includes a civil rights guarantee for those LGBT individuals who serve in our armed forces.
As Vice-Chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, I have ardently supported legislation that advances the rights of LGBT individuals, and I will continue to do so in the future. It is my hope that in conjunction with the Senate, and with the leadership of the President Obama, the DADT Policy will be repealed soon, and in full.