Ohio Representative John Boehner said
Sunday the debate on whether to repeal the military's ban on open gay
service would “distract” from real issues.
Boehner, a Republican, made his
comments on NBC's Meet The Press.
“In the middle of two wars and in the
middle of this giant security threat, why would we want to get into
this debate?” Boehner rhetorically asked David Gregory.
President Obama called for an end to
the 1993 law that prohibits gay and lesbian service members from
revealing their sexuality at the risk of losing their jobs during his
first State of the Union address on Wednesday.
“This year I will work with Congress
and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans
the right to serve the country they love because of who they are,”
Boehner, however, disagreed: “At a
time when Americans are asking 'where are the jobs,' why do we want
to get in this debate?”
“While we're fighting over health
care and trying to find some way to come to some common ground, why
do we want to get into a divisive debate that will do nothing more
than distract [from] the real debate that should occur here about
helping to get our economy going again and getting American people
back to work?”
Other Republicans are singing a similar
tune of bad timing. Arizona Senator John McCain also called the
“At a time when our Armed Forces are
fighting and sacrificing on the battlefield, now is not the time to
abandon the policy,” McCain said in a statement released
immediately after the president's call for an end to the law.
On Tuesday, Congress
is expected to hear testimony from top Pentagon officials on the
policy, commonly known as “don't ask, don't tell.”
A recent UCLA
study found 66,000 gay, lesbian and bisexual people are currently
serving in the Armed Forces, approximately 2.2% of all military
personnel, and the military has spent up to $500 million implementing
the gay ban.