Politico.com is reporting that two of the most important groups representing gay and lesbian troops, OutServe and KnightsOut, have requested that Congress pass the National Defense Authorization Bill, even if doing so would require sacrificing the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell."
According to their logic, the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" is critical. But the safety of their peers is even more paramount. Because the defense budget bill includes essential provisions to keep the troops safe, such as armored humvees, gay and lesbian troops are saying that if passing the budget means delaying repeal, they will continue to serve loyally. Here is their statement.
There is nothing more important than loyalty to those with whom we serve. This means ensuring that no one issue interferes with funding the courageous and selfless work our fellow service members are doing around the world. Therefore, on behalf of the more than 1,000 active duty gay and lesbian service members and 500 gay and lesbian veterans we represent, we respectfully urge Congress to pass the FY 2011 National Defense Authorization Act to fund the aircraft, weapons, combat vehicles, ammunition and promised pay-raises for all troops, whether or not the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" is included.
To be clear, we will continue to fight for our integrity as gay and lesbian service members and we hope that legislative action in Congress can be taken in 2010 to lift the ban. With the support of President Obama, Chairman Mullen, Secretary Gates and the reported seventy-percent of service members surveyed, a new day of openly gay service is at hand if Congress acts during this lame duck session. We are proud to serve in the United States Armed Forces today and tomorrow.
Some members of the gay community are up in arms about this statement. But I think it took a lot of chutzpah, and that it makes Senate Republicans look petty.
Just yesterday, Senator John McCain criticized the upcoming Pentagon Working Group Report on "don't ask, don't tell" because he doesn't like its conclusion that repeal will not harm the military. He used the same tactic that anti-gay activists have employed for decades. When the evidence doesn't support the reasons they offer for discrimination, they just turn the data upside down. In this case, the Pentagon report is expected to be 90% supportive of the idea that gays don't harm the military, so the Senator's only option is to pretend that it is 50-50.
So here you have gay and lesbian troops putting the country first. And Senator McCain putting discrimination first. That's what today's statement is about.