Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), has called Republicans
“shameless” for their efforts to derail “Don't Ask, Don't Tell”
After an House Armed Services
subcommittee last week heard testimony from Clifford Stanley, the
undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, the full
committee will take up the issue on Thursday.
Last year, Congress approved and
President Barack Obama signed into law a bill that repeals the
Clinton-era law that bans gay and bisexual troops from serving
openly. But implementation won't begin until 60 days after Pentagon
leaders and the president certify that the military is ready for the
Republican members on the subcommittee
criticized the move.
Georgia Representative Austin Scott
challenged Vice Admiral William E. Gortney's claim that gay sailors
were discharged under the policy because of their sexuality.
“Did you discharge him from the
service because he was gay or because he violated a standard of
conduct?” Scott asked.
“Because he was gay,” Gortney
“He did not violate a standard of
conduct before he was dismissed?” Scott asked.
“He did not.”
“That's not the answer I thought you
would give to be honest with you, admiral,” Scott replied.
Scott went on to predict an exodus of
troops from the military.
Rep. Mike Coffman of Colorado said open
gay service would undermine the military mission.
“I think this is a political decision
obviously made by the executive branch and the military will follow
it under whatever circumstances and ramifications it has to the
combat effectiveness to our forces,” Coffman said.
Sarvis chided the committee's leaders
for their decision to pursue the matter with a second hearing.
“We are within hours of a government
shutdown which is going to have adverse and unintended consequences
on our fighting men and women in uniform. And yet, repeal opponents
felt the need this afternoon to spend precious time on how to prevent
gays and lesbians from serving openly and honestly in our military.
Mind you, we are talking about gay and lesbian service members
already in Iraq and Afghanistan who could well give their lives or
limbs for this country. I am compelled to ask: Have they no shame,
no sense of priorities?” Savis said in a statement.
“Today’s hearing is yet another
attempt by the committee’s new majority to defund, delay, and
derail the repeal of 'Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.' Unfortunately,
however, it also represents more than that. It’s indicative of an
ongoing and coordinated effort by opponents of repeal to undermine
the integrity of this process and make repeal – already decided in
a bi-partisan way by the Congress, the Pentagon, the President, and
the American people – a political football for the 2012 election