Murphy Moves on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

Rep. Patrick Murphy of Pennsylvania officially became the lead sponsor on the "don't ask, don't tell" repeal bill on Tuesday night, but he's been stepping up efforts to get the bill moving for months.

BY Kerry Eleveld

July 08 2009 12:00 AM ET

Do you have any opinion about potentially using an executive order to stop discharges as an interim step to full repeal?The Congress passed this in 1993 and we should change the law to make it better, and frankly, to get rid of that. I can't sign an executive order, as you know, but what I can do is put a bill on the president's desk. I've got to focus on the task at hand. When I was on the rifle range back in 1993 when I first wore the uniform, the first thing I learned was, stay in your lane. Don't worry about what the other shooters are doing, just focus on the targets in your lane. And I'm focused on my lane here in the House of Representatives, because time is of the essence for our troops and for our country.

Did you ever serve with anyone who was out to you even if they weren't out in the military at large?Absolutely, sure I did. And that's why I think the policy is just wrong, and not just for national security interests, but you want people to be proud of who they are. When you wear the cloth of your country, you don't care what your battle buddy's race, creed, color, or orientation is, you worry if they can fire their M4 machine rifle, or whether they can kick down a door in Baghdad or Kabul.

Is there anything you'd like to add?I mentioned this in the hearings last year, but for those folks who think that if we overturn "don't ask, don't tell" that it's somehow going to affect unit cohesion -- the fact that they don't think that our troops are professional enough to respect someone else's sexual orientation is offensive, especially when you look at the fact that our two strongest allies in the world, Great Britain and Israel, allow their troops to serve openly along with 22 other countries. So I really question whether they have the full faith and confidence in our troops, because I know I do.

One last question: Is there a cultural generation gap that needs to be bridged here in order to change the military leadership's thinking on this?I think for some members, yes. But I think even some senior military leaders, people like Gen. Colin Powell, who is a personal hero of mine, he was one of the authors of "don't ask, don't tell" and he even said it's something we should reevaluate. The former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff [Gen. John Shalikashvili], hundreds and thousands of troops have said, "We've lived this life, we know what it's like." And especially the overwhelming majority of young Americans between 18 and 29 -- those folks that we're recruiting to come into our military -- have no problem with it, and frankly, they think the policy is wrong and [it] probably hurts recruitment efforts.

 

Tags: Politics

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