an active-duty major in the Army National Guard who is
the Democratic candidate for Illinois's sixth congressional
district, is at odds with two national gay rights
groups over whether she supports repealing the
military's antigay "don't ask, don't tell" policy,
according to a report in the suburban Chicago Daily
Herald. The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network
put out a news release last week praising Duckworth, who
lost both legs in the Iraq conflict, for
supporting legislation that would repeal the ban on
gays and lesbians serving openly in the military.
But a campaign
spokeswoman told the Herald that Duckworth
doesn't support the legislation. "I think she only
supports a repeal [of the ban] if it was deemed appropriate
by military commanders of the armed forces," Christine
Glunz said. "The press release is incorrect."
Ralls, however, said the group based its news release on a
statement Duckworth gave to the gay rights group Human
Rights Campaign. "When I was serving in Iraq, it made
no difference to me what the sexual orientation of my
comrades was. It certainly did not matter to me what
the sexual orientation was of the men or women who helped
save my life after my Black Hawk helicopter was shot
down over Iraq," Duckworth said in the statement,
which her campaign acknowledges is correct. "Any
qualified American who is willing to make that kind of
sacrifice for our freedom should be free to do so."
Based on those
words--and Duckworth's being listed as backing a
change to allow gays to serve openly in the military
on the Human Rights Campaign's Web site--"it
seemed pretty clear to everyone involved on our side
that her statement seemed to be one of support for lesbian
and gay service members," Ralls told the
Not so, according
to the Duckworth camp. "Tammy has not expressed strong
support for repealing 'don't ask, don't tell,'" Glunz said.
running as a moderate in the traditionally Republican sixth
district, where some voters might not support such a repeal.
Her opponent, Republican state senator Peter Roskam,
left no doubt about where he stands. "My view is, keep
the current policy," Roskam told the Herald.
"In knocking on 5,000 doors, it hasn't come up."