Friday, December 4

Congressional ‘Don’t ask – Don’t Tell’ Flanking Maneuver?

One issue the Obama Administration has been facing is what to do with the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell‘ policy. Now comes word that Congress is looking into the matter and would like some servicemen (and women) to publicly ‘out’ themselves. As a reward for doing so, they would be given immunity in the process:

Gay service members who reveal their sexual orientations during congressional testimony would be immune from forced discharges under a bill introduced Wednesday, as lawmakers prepare to consider repealing the ban on gays serving openly in the U.S. military.

The legislation’s author, U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., said the bill is needed to ensure that Congress has reliable and relevant witnesses at its disposal if the House holds hearings next year on the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

The bill also would protect from retaliatory personnel actions any members of the military who testify for or against lifting the 16-year ban. – Washington Post

It is interesting to see how this would play out as the result would seem to be that those service members who testify would then be serving in violation of the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy. And once that happens I can see calls to repeal the policy altogether using those who testify as examples why the policy is no longer needed.

Then again, they can turn this into a de facto repeal depending on how they grant immunity. I would think that simply volunteering to testify would be enough to warrant immunity.

The story does note that immunity is not total:

Alexander Nichols, executive director of Servicemembers United, an advocacy group for gay Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans, said the legislation is good in theory but on a practical level would not protect gay service members who out themselves to Congress from becoming pariahs within their units.

“This proposal is, of course, well-intentioned and the idea behind it is certainly noble, but I believe it is a bit naive in its conceit and doesn’t reflect a thoughtfulness on what this would mean for gay and lesbian service members,” Nichols said. He thinks it is better for gay veterans to share their experiences than to put active duty service members at risk. – Washington Post


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