This week in a dramatic hearing on Capitol Hill, top U.S. military officials voiced support for removing the policy that for nearly 17 years banned gay people from serving openly in the military. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen and Defense Secretary Robert Gates told the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday that it was time to repeal "Don't Ask Don't Tell."
Despite this from top military officials and overwhelming support from Northwest Congressional Democrats, Idaho Congressman Walt Minnick has yet to reveal his position on the policy.
Admiral Mullen's testimony so remarkably diverged from his predecessors' that Dana Milbank wrote at the Washington Post, "If they awarded decorations for congressional testimony, Mullen would have himself a Medal of Honor."
"Speaking for myself and myself only, it is my personal belief that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly would be the right thing to do," the nation's top military officer told the members of the Senate Armed Services Committee. "No matter how I look at this issue, I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens. For me personally, it comes down to integrity -- theirs as individuals and ours as an institution."
General Colin Powell, sitting in Mullen's seat advocating for institution of DADT in the 1990s, now says he "fully supports" its repeal.
A bill to do just that, now led by Iraq veteran Congressman Patrick Murphy (D-PA), has 187 co-sponsors in the U.S. House. These include every Northwest House Democrat, except one. Oregon Democrats, Earl Blumenauer, Peter DeFazio, and David Wu and Washington Democrats Jay Inslee, Rick Larsen, Brian Baird, Norman Dicks, Jim McDermott and Adam Smith have all signed on as co-sponsors of the bill. The only exception being Idaho's Walt Minnick.
Seems now would be a good time for Minnick to prove to his constituents that he's not just pandering to the fringe with his strident anti-Democrat-ism, but that he really is that "social moderate" he claimed to be when running for office in 2008.
Time to take a stand and sign on to H.R. 1283, Congressman Minnick. Gen. Powell has even given you cover now.
Don't hold your breath Idaho Democrats.