Sen. Saxby Chambliss, Georgia’s senior senator, remains defiant after criticism over his anti-gay comments during a hearing this week on repealing the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” ban on openly gay soldiers.
Chambliss raised the ire of several LGBT groups after saying Tuesday that allowing openly gay people in the military would conflict with “the armed forces’ high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion.” He added that allowing gay soldiers would lead to “alcohol use, adultery, fraternization, and body art.” (View his comments beginning at 51:50 in the video.)
Gay groups pounced, criticizing the remarks from Chambliss. Georgia Equality on Tuesday asked its members to contact Chambliss and urge him to change his position and support the repeal of “Don’t Ask.”
“We find it troubling that Senator Chambliss appears to be now disregarding the opinions of the military’s highest ranking leaders in his attempt to justify the continuation of a policy of bigotry and discrimination in our armed forces,” Georgia Equality says in its eblast.
The group offers a sample letter for its members to send to Chambliss:
I find it troubling that you appear to be now disregarding the opinions of the military’s highest ranking leaders in your attempt to justify the continuation of a policy of bigotry and discrimination in our armed forces.
Admiral Mullen testified Today that lifting the ban is a matter of “integrity.”
We hope that you will show the same integrity and change your position to support strengthening our military by repealing DADT.
We also hope that you will support the almost 34,000 gay and lesbian Veterans in the state of Georgia, whom you represent (Urban Institute, 2004).
Other gay groups issued strongly-worded statements after Chambliss made his remarks.
Gay rights activists say the comments show that Chambliss is out of touch. Even on some right-leaning blogs and Web sites, some writers who described themselves as Republicans derided Chambliss’ comments.
In a statement, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force said Chambliss and Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), another opponent, “have their head in the sand on the true impact of the existing law.”
“Contrary to their statements, the real story is ‘Live and don’t make a living. Live and lie,’ ” said Rea Carey, executive director of the group.
Chambliss remained defiant after his remarks were criticized, saying he “absolutely” stands by the comments.
“I think I’m getting a lot of kudos,” too, he said in an interview.
Chambliss said his remarks were meant to emphasize his thoughts on the potential loss of disciplinary control in the military if the “don’t ask, don’t tell” rule is dropped.
“We control people’s lives in the military,” he said.
The hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday received widespread media attention as Defense Secretary Robert Gates unveiled plans for a working group that would examine the implications of ending “Don’t Ask.” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen also came out in favor of allowing gays to serve openly in the military. But two days later, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she’s unsure if the House will overturn the policy this year.
The debate over the military ban prompted gay singer and songwriters Tom Goss and Matt Alber to write “This is Who We Are,” an anthem against the policy. The duo was in Washington this week during the Congressional hearings in advance of a joint tour. (Listen to the song in the video below.)
The Congressional debate also prompted Jon Stewart to skewer Sen. John McCain for his flip-flop on “Don’t Ask.” McCain voiced support for repealing the ban during his failed presidential campaign, but reversed his position during the hearing Tuesday.
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