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Illinois Senate: 2010 Election BREAKING News

First Posted: 07/06/10 06:12 AM ET   Updated: 05/25/11 05:05 PM ET

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Giannoulias Pushes To End 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'; Kirk Maintains Support For Policy
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Democrat Alexi Giannoulias, who's running for President Barack Obama's old Senate seat, launched a petition drive Monday to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" policy for gays in the military.

Giannoulias unveiled the plan during an event at a gay community center on Chicago's North Side that only the gay press were invited to cover. The campaign said it was part of its outreach to a specific constituency group.

"It's important for me to reach out to every community in every corner of the state and talk to them personally about the issues that matter to them," Giannoulias told The Associated Press in a phone interview later.

His Republican opponent, U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk, supports the current policy.

"I don't think we should make a change," Kirk, a Naval Reserve officer, said after a speech last week to a Chicago civic group.

The policy that started under President Bill Clinton allows gays and lesbians to be kicked out of the military because of their sexual orientation, but military leaders aren't supposed to target gay troops.

President Barack Obama has called the policy unfair and promised to end it, but a timeline is uncertain. Last fall, Giannoulias — who calls the policy "wrong" — didn't object to the Obama administration's protracted timeline. Pentagon leaders have told Congress not to change the law until there's a plan to deal with any opposition from service members.

Giannoulias was joined at Monday's community meeting by other elected officials, including state Rep. Deborah Mell, who recently announced she is engaged to her girlfriend.

Mell, who is also the sister-in-law of ousted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, said it is important for Illinois' Democratic senate candidate to be so strongly against the military's policy on gays.

"It's a ridiculous policy," Mell said.

-- AP
Posted: 05/17 08:51 PM
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