Tuesday, February 2, 2010

End the Ban

Today I introduced a Senate Concurrent Resolution urging the Missouri General Assembly to send a message to Washington, D.C., that it is time to end the outdated military policy known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

The following is the text from my floor speech. I will post the language of the concurrent resolution as soon as it is available online.

This summer I had the privilege of attending a moving event at the Harry S. Truman Library & Museum honoring the 61st anniversary of President Truman's signing of Executive Order 9981 that ended racial segregation in the armed forces. The program explored the history and lessons learned of racial discrimination in the U.S. military. It also examined gender discrimination and the ban on openly gay service members -- two of the remaining challenges of our 21st century fighting force.

Courageous individuals who have served their country under extraordinary circumstances attended the event. It is both fitting and proper that I briefly share three of their stories with you today.

Oliver Vincent Shields served as an African American during World War II. Shields landed at Normandy Beach during D-Day and was selected as one of the 2500 African-American volunteers to serve in the 14th Armored Division (known as the "Liberators"). He served in a segregated army, but fought as hard and brave as any other member of that Army. Oliver Vincent Shields supports a repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

Chief Petty Officer Stuart O’Brien of the Royal Australian Army served alongside the U.S. military in Iraq in 2006. Australia is one of 27 countries that allow open service of gay men and women. This summer he told the story of a U.S. service member who received grief counseling and support from the Australian Navy Chaplain when his longtime partner was killed while on active duty. This American could not reach out to his own chaplain, his own country or even his own American friends because to do so would be an admission that he is gay and end his career. Chief Petty Officer Stuart O’Brien supports the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

Finally, I want to tell you about Shonda Garrison. Shonda grew up in Branson, Missouri and enrolled in the U.S. Army right out of high school. She worked hard and advanced quickly. In the fall of 1990 she, like tens of thousands of other Americans, shipped out to Saudi Arabia and spent almost a year in the desert fighting for this country. Shonda loves her country and wanted to make a career in the military, but after 8 years of service, she had to make the agonizing decision to leave because she could no longer serve in silence. Shonda is gay and under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, she could not enter a committed relationship with the person she loves for fear of losing her career. Shonda Garrison is my partner and she supports the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

Today in Washington, D.C. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will appear before the Senate Armed Services Committee to discuss how we can end this country’s "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" policy. The Senate Concurrent Resolution I am filing today urges the Missouri General Assembly to send a message to the U.S. Congress that it is time to end this unnecessary practice that actually costs American taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars and undermines our military’s readiness.

I’ll leave you with a quote from Aubrey Sarvis, Executive Director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. "In the 1940s President Truman demonstrated courage and leadership by desegregating the military so that all qualified Americans, regardless of their race, could serve their country with full equality. Today's leaders can take encouragement from the example of President Truman, who, during an election year, put justice and equality under the law before political expediency."

Let’s do the right thing – it’s time to end the ban.


Tami Frost said...

Very well stated Thank you for all your support and being a strong lesbian leader I wish there was more.

Doug said...

Thank you Jolie! Proud of you.

Merrie Haynes-Hanson said...

Right on Jolie!!!!!

Shonda said...

Thanks for speaking for those who have been silenced. You make me proud.

Beth said...

Repealing DADT is about restoring integrity to gays and lesbians currently serving - to allow them to serve openly and no longer in fear of being outed. I know that fear first-hand as I was outed by someone outside the military and my career ended. I appreciate your support of repealing the ban so that all those wanting to serve may do so - Godspeed!

the crustybastard said...

I believe you're the only politician that's ever truly represented me and mine — not just on this issue, but many others.

Thank you for your work, senator.

cliff1976 said...

Beautiful post. I wish you were my senator. Greetings from Germany.

Snooker said...

I would just like to say thank you for the work you are doing. Unfortunately I am not able to give you my vote (Kansas voter living abroad), but you have my best wishes and crossed fingers for continued success.

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Anonymous said...

Don't ask, don't tell works well. Leave it in place. It gives LBGT's an opportunity to serve, as long as they keep their stuff to themselves, which I would expect of heterosexuals as well.

Lex said...

That's the funny thing about DADT - How does it work? In what way? For whom?

It singles out a specific group and says lie about who you are because of what you are. Heterosexuals are not required to do that. They can freely date and marry whom they wish. They can discuss their dates and spouses freely. It is patently absurd to imagine that "it works" when we lose valuable service members to it.

Imagine if the same restriction applied to a service members of a particular faith. Imagine a group who could not worship publicly, display their faith, discuss it in any context. Imagine how fair that would be. If sexuality is in our DNA it becomes even worse, but if it's a choice as some believe than it is no different than singling out a religion for DADT.

DADT is wrong. It does not work. The only reasonable action is to allow gays and lesbians to serve openly.

Anonymous said...

How appropriate to name a homosexual blog freshmeat?
You may as well set up shop on manhunt. I know a city park nearby, full of homosexuals who just LOVE this homosexual senator. If they could only climb out of the bushes long enough to vote it might be a runaway election.


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