The head of the National Log Cabin Republicans on Tuesday asked Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) to abandon plans to introduce an amendment that could disrupt repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
R. Clarke Cooper, Log Cabin’s executive director, says in a letter dated May 10 that Hunter shouldn’t introduce his amendment on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” because it would complicate efforts for a repeal process that is already proceeding smoothly.
“Please do not road block the repeal of ['Don't Ask, Don't Tell'] by introducing an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act which would add an unnecessary and unwanted certification measure to a clear, comprehensive and thus-far successful certification process,” Cooper writes.
On Monday, Hunter announced he would introduce an amendment to the fiscal year 2012 defense authorization bill on Wednesday during the House Armed Services Committee markup of the legislation to expand the certification requirement needed for repeal to include the four military service chiefs.
The repeal legislation signed into law in December provides for an implementation of open service in the U.S. military after 60 pass following certification from the president, the defense secretary and the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Hunter’s amendment would expand the certification requirement to include the Army chief of staff, the Air Force chief of staff, the chief of naval operations and the Marine Corps commandant.
Cooper invokes the shared military service that he shares with Hunter, a Marine Corps veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, while asking the lawmaker not to introduce any amendment that could derail “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal.
“As a current captain in the United States Army Reserve, I will attest that ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ (DADT) does nothing to benefit the mission of the United States military,” Cooper writes. “By forcing servicemembers to hide or lie about their sexual orientation, ['Don't Ask, Don't Tell'] undermines servicemembers’ responsibility under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Dishonesty is also inherently counter to the long held Army values of Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity and Personal Courage.”
Cooper says repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” removes “the risk of blackmail” for service members who feel they have to keep their sexual orientation a secret to remain in the armed forces. Additionally, Cooper says the cost of the military’s gay ban has negative financial impact and cites numbers from the Government Accountability Office and the Palm Center Blue Ribbon Commission finding that the U.S. government incurs an estimated cost of $22,000 to $43,000 for discharged service member.
“To put it in military nomenclature, ['Don't Ask, Don't Tell'] is a ‘No Go,’” Cooper writes. “Repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ and implementation of open service will make our nation stronger by improving military recruitment, retention and readiness.”
Joe Kasper, a Hunter spokesperson, said in response to the letter that Hunter’s amendment isn’t intended to derail “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal and Cooper should agree that implementation of open service should be “smooth and efficient.”
“If Mr. Hunter wanted to offer an amendment to derail the repeal, he would have done exactly that,” Kasper said. “What’s needed is a process that examines every possible issue, big and small. Rushing to implement the repeal, the same way it was enacted, will only complicate things. So it’s important that the service chiefs weigh in, absent the political influence of the chairman, the secretary and the president.”
In addition to sending the letter to Hunter, Cooper told the Washington Blade his organization contacted each Republican member on the House Armed Services Committee to urge them against roadblocking “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal with harmful amendments that would add “an unnecessary and unwanted measure to a clear, comprehensive and thus-far successful certification process.”
Also, Cooper said the coalition of groups who worked to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” intend to send out another letter later Tuesday to all members of the House Armed Services Committee calling on the lawmakers to pass defense authorization bill free of any anti-gay amendments.
The full text of Cooper’s letter follows:
Dear Representative Hunter:
As a fellow combat veteran, a fellow Republican and a current reserve officer, I am grateful that you and your colleagues on the House Armed Services Committee are committed to the readiness and sustainability of our military. A veteran yourself, you especially appreciate that proper training and equipping are necessary to achieve victory as well as mitigate battlefield threats to servicemembers. During the Bush Administration, I even had to the honor of traveling with many of your committee peers, including your father, into kinetic environments to highlight the efforts and the needs of our war fighters and diplomats.
However, as a current Captain in the United States Army Reserve, I will attest that Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ (DADT) does nothing to benefit the mission of the United States military. By forcing servicemembers to hide or lie about their sexual orientation, DADT undermines servicemembers’ responsibility under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Dishonesty is also inherently counter to the long held Army values of Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity and Personal Courage. Even worse, dishonesty is a security threat. Repealing DADT not only removes the specter of discharge, it also removes the risk of blackmail and compromising national security. Where being gay or lesbian were once grounds for punitive personnel actions or dismissal, the CIA, FBI, State Department, the Defense Department on the civilian side, and defense contractors no longer take into account sexual orientation for reasons of dismissal. United States policy on this matter should be consistent in preferring honesty for the sake of security.
Further, Department of Defense implementation of repeal will likely be a force multiplier for the retention and recruitment of much needed personnel and resources to succeed in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as other missions around the globe. For 17 years, the United States has unnecessarily lost valuable human and financial capital to DADT. According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the Palm Center Blue Ribbon Commission, the government incurs costs of an estimated $22,000 to $43,000 per discharged servicemember. These estimates do not even account for the tremendous loss of expertise as well as the tax payer revenue expended training and equipping discharged members. Such waste is senseless and must end.
DADT is unconstitutional. DADT is a threat to military integrity and readiness. DADT is a threat to national security. DADT is a waste of taxpayer dollars. DADT is discriminatory. DADT is un-American. To put it in military nomenclature, DADT is a ‘No Go.’ Repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ and implementation of open service will make our nation stronger by improving military recruitment, retention and readiness. Please do not road block the repeal of DADT by introducing an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act which would add an unnecessary and unwanted certification measure to a clear, comprehensive and thus-far successful certification process.
R. Clarke Cooper