September 23, 2010

McCain Refuses to Acknowledge the Army Pursued Gay Soldiers

McCain Refuses to Acknowledge the Army Pursued Gay Soldiers
Following Tuesday's filibuster of the National Defense Authorization Actwhich had attached to it a provision for repealing the legislative portion of the military gay ban known as Don't Ask, Don't Tell, a presser with John McCain saw the senator refuse to acknowledge that the military has broken its own rules and has actively pursued gay soldiers without them having disclosed their sexuality.

During the presser McCain took questions from several reporters. However questions from The Advocate’s Kerry Eleveld and Metro Weekly’s Chris Geidner proved quite provocative.

Becoming increasingly irate, McCain stated that military leaders categorically do not “go out and seek to find out... someone’s sexual orientation” and repeated variations of this despite being told there was clear evidence to the contrary.

Designed in 1993, the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Pursue, Don't Harass" policy -- nearly always shortened to "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" -- was  to be implemented in a way that prevented military leaders from pursuing (investigating) lesbian and gay servicemembers without evidence of overt "homosexual conduct" (for instance a direct admission to a superior).

In reality however, stories of such pursuits among discharged lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) soldiers are unfortunately frequent, like in the case of Major Mike Almy who was discharged from the Air Force after Almy's superiors read his private emails.

Mike Almy appeared on the Rachel Maddow Show Tuesday to discuss McCain's comments, a segment you can watch below. It contains McCain's flat out refusal of the fact that pursuit happens, and Mike Almy's personal testimony to the contrary:

One notes that McCain actually dodges the issue, saying that it is not the policy to pursue LGB soldiers. This may be factually accurate but for someone who "knows" the military as well as McCain claims to, he must be aware of such instances, especially given the fact that, as was reported in the video, Mike Almy gave testimony to the Senate in McCain's presence.

McCain's willful avoidance of this fact is a clear political tactic, and one that is unbecoming of a man of his stature, yet it is something that is unfortunately typical of Sen. McCain's approach to this issue.

A leading voice of opposition to repealing the military's DADT policy, McCain had previously stated that he would fall in with whatever military leaders decided on the issue, but when earlier this year Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and other military leaders agreed with the Obama Administration that DADT should be repealed, McCain did a sharp u-turn and promised to oppose the measure in Congress, resulting in his leading the charge during Tuesday's filibuster.

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