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Armed Services Hearing on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

July 23, 2008

The Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee is currently holding a hearing, “Don't Ask, Don't Tell Review.” The hearing will include testimony from military veterans on the effects of the policy.

Watch the hearing live >>

Subcommittee Chairwoman Susan Davis gives opening remarks:

Chairwoman Davis: “While the focus of the hearing is to provide a fair and balanced forum for debate, I think it is only fair to share my personal belief that the current policy should be repealed. I came to this position after talking to many servicemembers, active duty, reserve, and retired, and concluding that the open service of gay men and women need not present an operational problem. Many Americans who happen to be gay or lesbian want to answer our nation’s call to service, and allowing them to serve in an open and honest manner would uphold the ideals od military service. I would like to enter into the record a statement from the Department of Defense regarding ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ The Department will not be testifying today and has been hesitant to address the issue in open session…”

Former Naval intelligence officer Captain Joan E. Darrah, USN, (Ret.) gives testimony:

Captain Darrah: “But there was always that fear in the back of my mind that somehow I had been outed, and that the Admiral was calling me in to tell me that I was fired. The constant fear of being outed and fired, even though your perfomance is exceptional, is hard to quantify. ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ discourages thousands of talented and patriotic citizens from joining the military, because rightly so, they refuse to live a lie. This is a tremendous loss for our military.”

Wounded Iraq war veteran Staff Sergeant Eric Alva, USMC, (Ret.) gives testimony:

Staff Sergeant Alva: “My military service came to an end on March 21st, 2003. Three hours into the invasion of Iraq we had stopped to wait for orders… As I crossed that dusty patch of desert for the third time that day, I triggered a landmine… I remember wondering why they weren’t removing my right boot, it wasn’t until later that I had realized it was because that leg was already gone… I also had the dubious honor of being the first American injured in the Iraq War… That landmine may have put an end to my military career that day, but it didn’t put an end to my secret. That would come years later, when I realized that I had fought and nearly died to secure thr rights for others that I myself was not free to enjoy. I had proudly served a country that was not proud of me. More importantly, my experience disproved all the arguments against open service my gays and lesbians — I knew I had to share my story.”

Rep. Patrick Murphy (PA-08), the only Iraq veteran in Congress, challenges the witnesses in opposition to repealing the policy:

Rep. Murphy: “You’re basically asserting that straight men and women in our military aren’t professional enough to serve openly with gay troops while completing their military missions. You know as a former Army officer I can tell you I think that’s an insult to me and to many of the soldiers. To answer your question, Mr. Jones, it was 24 countries that allow military personnel to serve openly without any detrimental impact on unit cohesion.”