‘Don’t ask don’t tell’ could fall under new law

    Legislation allowing openly gay people to serve in the military has cleared the House and now heads to what could be a tough fight in the Senate. Bucks County Congressman Patrick Murphy wrote the bill to reverse the 17-year-law known as “don’t ask don’t tell.”

    Legislation allowing openly gay people to serve in the military has cleared the House and now heads to what could be a tough fight in the Senate. Bucks County Congressman Patrick Murphy wrote the bill to reverse the 17-year-law known as “don’t ask don’t tell.”

    Under “don’t ask don’t tell,” gay people in the military can’t be court martialed if their sexual orientation is revealed. But they can be discharged. Polls show the general public overwhelmingly opposes the policy. But the numbers are more divided when it comes to military families.

    Joe Soto is a 1983 graduate of the Naval Academy, and served in the military as a gay man for 8 years before “don’t ask don’t tell.” Soto says lifting the ban completely will take unnecessary stress off of gay service people.

    “[I’m] not saying people are gonna come screaming out of the closet because I think quite the opposite is going to happen,” Soto said. “I think it’s just the relief of knowing that if someone finds out who or what you are that you’re not going to get fired.”

    Soto says the military needs as many new recruits as possible and shouldn’t be turning away gay prospects. But retired Major General retired Wesley Craig disagrees. Craig served in the military for 38 years. For part of his career he commanded the Keystone Brigade of the Pennsylvania National Guard, when they deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. He says gay service people are too few in number to worry about losing them.

    “So the strength of the military in the past four or five years has been outstanding so I don’t think we need that very small minority,” Craig said.

    Craig says openly gay service people would distract other troops from their mission.

    The military has dismissed more than 13,000 gay personnel since the start of “don’t ask don’t tell.”

    Senate opponents are expected to mount strong resistance, including filibustering the defense bill, when it hits the Senate floor this summer.

    If it clears the Senate, the repeal would become law only after a Pentagon study on its impact and after the president and military leaders certify that the policy change will not affect the military’s ability to fight.

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