Thursday, July 9, 2009

Heterosexual Iraq War Veteran repeals "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

U.S. Rep. and Iraq War Veteran Patrick Murphy is taking a stand against the "don't ask, don't tell" law for lesbians and gays in the military.

Murphy is a heterosexual former soldier, who is trying to gain support from small communities by speaking openly about sexual orientation and why it doesn't matter to a majority of soldiers.

"They could be on the ground right now in Iraq . . . producing vital intelligence that would help us win the war on terror," Murphy said in a Philadelphia Inquirer article. "When I was in Iraq . . . my men did not care if you were gay or straight; they just wanted to get the mission done and come home alive."

Even though Murphy said that a majority of the military does not care about sexual orientation, a 2006 Military Times poll showed that 58 percent of active-duty personnel support keeping "don't ask, don't tell."

Tommy Sears, executive director for the Center for Military Readiness, said that Murphy is "in a pretty serious minority as far as military people go."

Former President Bill Clinton first enacted the "don't ask, don't tell" law in 1993. Since then, the Philadelphia Inquirer said the law has led to the discharge of nearly 13,000 gay service members.

After running an avid campaign supporting the LGBT community, Clinton felt under pressure to pass a law that would expand gay rights, especially in the military.

Current President Barack Obama did the same thing, but has yet to follow through. In Obama's first few months as president, more than 100 soldiers were discharged because of their sexual orientation, reported.

And of the 13,000 service members, 58 Arabic speakers have been discharged since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Murphy said he has always been against the law and is going to meet with legislators in the coming weeks to find needed votes. Other heterosexual soldiers are also banning together to gain support. said that a "Voices of Honor" tour, sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign, will travel across the country to share stories of gay, lesbian and straight servicemen and women to gather support for the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, which would repeal "don't ask, don't tell."

The Philadelphia Inquirer said the legislation to repeal "don't ask, don't tell" was first introduced in 2005 and is still in subcommittee. The bill may not come up for a House of Representatives vote this year, but it currently has 151 cosponsors.

The "don't ask, don't tell" law has been in effect for more than a decade, which is ridiculous. Even though some may view homosexuality as a sin, the military shouldn't treat people like plagues. In fact, they should be proud to have so many men and women willing to serve their country.

Controversy over gay rights always stems from religion, but what our government needs to remember is that there is a separation of church and state doctrine that clearly says "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..."

Bottom line: Soldiers of any race, gender or sexual orientation should be given equal rights in the military.

If you agree, sign Murphy's petition here.