As Senator John McCain and Congressman Mark Kirk gathered for a closed-door fundraiser and talk on foreign policy in Chicago Friday morning, Democrat and former Senate candidate Jacob Meister joined Iraq War Veteran Trevor Montgomery to condemn McCain and Kirk for continuing to support Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
In a conference call organized by Alexi Giannoulias' campaign, Montgomery and Meister discussed how repealing DADT--which President Obama promised to to do several times--was "truly an issue of national security."
"I am very excited that Alexi has always been at the forefront of the issue," said Meister, an openly gay lawyer who was defeated by Giannoulias in the primary race for the Democratic Senate nomination. "[Mark] Kirk believes that [DADT] is a good policy."
Don't Ask, Don't Tell allows gays and lesbians to serve in the military--as long as they don't discuss their sexual orientation, and no one else brings it up or investigates to discover homosexual tendencies.
Since 1993, 13,000 gay and lesbian service members have been discharged under DADT. These members include intelligence specialists, nuclear; biological and chemical warfare specialists, nuclear power engineers, missile guidance and control operators, rocket; missile and other artillery specialists and infantrymen.
"This policy weakens our national security and Mark Kirk and John McCain are clearly not listening to the military leaders who all agree that Don't Ask, Don't Tell is not working," Meister said.
Montgomery added that both Kirk and McCain were "outdated" and "out of touch" with the American people on this issue.
Kirk has previously said Don't Ask Don't Tell has "worked out well" for the military.
"John McCain, Mark Kirk and Sarah Palin have been kicking around [DADT] like a political football," Meister said, adding that McCain has flip-flopped on the issue several times.
In a 2006 interview, McCain said: "if the leadership of the military comes to me and says, 'Senator, we ought to change the policy,' then I think we ought to consider seriously changing it," but when Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mike Mullen told the Senate Armed Services Committee they thought the policy should be repealed last week--McCain changed his tune, calling the policy "imperfect but effective."
"To me, [McCain and Kirk's support of DADT is] an effort to pander to the extreme right, and to play in to policy agenda which is outdated and injurious to our national security," Meister said.
Giannoulias strongly supports repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell--along with the majority of the American people. A New York Times and CBS poll showed Thursday that 6 out of 10 Americans believe gay and lesbian soldiers should be allowed to serve openly.