Jared Polis Comes Out Against “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

Rep. Jared Polis (CO-2)

In a final push to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) before the 111th Congress comes to a close, Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) today urged his colleagues to support a House version of stand-alone legislation pending in the Senate that would immediately repeal DADT and empower the Defense Department to end this harmful and discriminatory policy.  Although the House passed legislation repealing DADT earlier this year, the passage of identical House legislation today (by a vote of 250 to 175) leaves the Senate with virtually no excuse to delay or fail to take action on this issue.

Text of Congressman Polis’ floor speech follows the jump.

I rise today in support of the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.  This resolution would ensure that the military has the ability to implement the recommendation from its recently completed study.  “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is the only law in the country that requires people to be dishonest or be fired if they choose to be honest.  It’s a law that not only is hurtful to the men and women who put themselves at risk serving in our armed forces, but it’s a law that’s hurtful to our national security.

A recent study found that 8 out of 10 Americans support repealing the law.  Regardless of their political party, people recognize that on the battlefield it doesn’t matter if a soldier is gay or straight.  What matters is they get the job done to protect our country.

Now, it’s important to remember we already debated and voted on this issue early this summer.  We passed an amendment with the same repeal language in the defense authorization bill.  At that time there were members on both sides of the aisle that weren’t ready to support this repeal.  They wanted to see an extensive report by the military that was scheduled to come out December 1st; it came out one day earlier.

I personally didn’t feel we needed to see that report.  I was already convinced this would not be a threat to military readiness and would in fact enhance military readiness-due  in part to the fact we have discharged over 13,000 people from our military after taxpayer money went for their training for reasons totally unrelated to their performance.  Not to mention countless others that didn’t re-enlist or left the military because of this policy.

But I do understand many members of this body from both sides of the aisle, including the Chairman of the committee of jurisdiction, wanted to see that report in December.  Well, the report has come out and it’s very clear with regard to the fact that-of no surprise to me, but hopefully of consolation to those who were concerned-this change in policy does not represent a threat to the security of this country.  And in fact there were several practical suggestions about how to implement this change.

In addition, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and the Secretary of Defense have been very clear that they want to see this policy legislatively repealed.  Why?  Because repeal of this policy is inevitable.  It’s a question of when not if.  There are already several court orders in various stages of appeal and the military feels that the plan for it, with us, in this legislative process, is better for military readiness than running the greater risk of having an instant court order, an on or off again court order, which is also a possibility, which would prevent the regular military planning process from going forward.

The sooner we act the better.  Despite our differences, it’s clear that leaving it up to the courts is the wrong way to go about it.  In 1993 the passage of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was a political process, not a military one.  Today we can rectify that, remove the statutory requirement, and allow the military to do the right thing to improve military readiness and enhance the protection of our country.

Let us be on the right side of history and finally move forward with repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” today.  Thank you.