Rep. Hastings Backs Off Helping Gays in Military, Digs at Obama | New Times Broward-Palm Beach

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Rep. Hastings Backs Off Helping Gays in Military, Digs at Obama

Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-Miramar) tried to help gays in the military but says he has been forced to back off "due to pressure from some of my Congressional colleagues and from the White House."

Yesterday, he withdrew his proposed amendment to H.R. 3326, the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2010. The measure would have prohibited the use of funds to carry out the provisions in Don't Ask, Don't Tell. It would have taken away the money to investigate and dismiss soldiers who acknowledge they are homosexual or bisexual. 

In a statement, Hastings said, "Americans recognize that forcing men and women out of the military on the basis of sexual orientation is not only blatantly discriminatory, but harms our national security and, indeed, runs counter to the values of our Armed Forces. We cannot afford to lose any more of our soldiers to the vagaries of outdated bigotry. Every day, we lose approximately two service members to Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Our country is engaged in two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Our military has spent over $95.1 million on retraining soldiers because of this law. What is the holdup, then? Last month, 76 of my colleagues and I sent a letter to President Obama urging him to take leadership on this issue and to work together with Congress to repeal this law. More than a month later, I have yet to receive an official response."

He went on, "I continue to hear the phrase, 'next year, next year' with regard to repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell. That is absurd. This law is plain wrong. It is wrong now and it will be wrong then. How many more soldiers are we going to force to suffer through the humiliation of a so-called 'investigation?' How many more Arabic- and Farsi-speaking soldiers are we going to remove from duty, depriving our country of valuable, even life-saving intelligence? How many more combat veterans are we going to tell that we don't need their experience because their sexual orientation somehow precludes them from serving their country? If we know we are going to repeal this law eventually, then why not take action right now?"