Without Congress, debate over "don't ask, don't tell" rages on
Published: August 10, 2009
When lawmakers return from their summer break next month, they'll be immediately welcomed back to the ongoing "don't ask, don't tell" debate by both advocates and opponents of the ban on homosexuals serving openly in the ranks.
Late last week theInternational Conference of Evangelical Chaplain Endorsers sent out packets to each member of Congress calling a repeal of the law "a recipe for disaster" and blasting Obama for considering the change "despite the known serious risks (homosexuals') behavior and lifestyle present."
The group goes on to label gay sex "medical Russian roulette" and says the mere inclusion of openly gay servicemembers could present serious health risks to medics and combat units, who would be unaware of potential disease like AIDS carried by homosexual troops. It's an debate point used heavily in 1993, before the current law was passed, and one gay rights supporters have branded a bigoted and misleading argument.
Rev. Dr. Billy Baugham, executive director of the ICECE, said he hopes lawmakers will have the informational packet handy when the House Armed Services holds its "don't ask" hearings later this fall. Committee leaders still have not set a date for that hearing.
Meanwhile, the "Voices of Honor" tour sponsored by Servicemembers United and the Human Rights Campaign will continue through this month, staging town hall meetings in states where activists believe they can sway lawmakers into overturning the ban.
Servicemembers United has promised on their web site to call out lawmakers who are blocking their efforts, but so far only the names of co-sponsors to Rep. Patrick Murphy's bill to dump "Don't ask" are listed on their website. Expect that to change this fall, when lawmakers are forced to choose sides on the controversial issue.