Tuesday, June 23, 2009
SAN DIEGO The San Diego City Council today endorsed legislation that would repeal the federal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy regarding gays in the military.
The council voted unanimously for a resolution in support of HR 1283, the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, which would allow gays to openly serve in the armed forces without fear of discrimination.
Similar resolutions have been passed in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, Palm Springs, Chicago and New York City.
Councilman Todd Gloria, who is gay, said San Diego has an obligation to speak out against discrimination and support all military service members, whether gay or straight.
"I see supporting the repeal of `Don't Ask, Don't Tell" to be completely in sync with that long tradition of San Diegans standing up for our military and their families," he said.
According to Gloria, about 13,000 members of the military have been discharged for their sexual orientation since "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was enacted in 1993 under then-President Bill Clinton.
James Hartline, a self-described former gay man who publishes a Christian activist publication, led the opposition to the City Council's resolution, calling it "unethical."
"We have heard from hundreds of citizens, not only in San Diego but throughout America, who are outraged that this City Council is seeking to legitimize sexual immorality in our armed forces," he said.
But the bulk of the speakers who testified before the City Council were in support of repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
Stewart Bornhoft, a retired Army colonel and Vietnam War veteran, said the City Council has a duty to "take a stand against the discrimination, hypocrisy and duplicity of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."'
"In all but one department of our national government, discrimination is against the law," Bornhoft said. "In the Department of Defense, discrimination is the law.
"As a city with one of the largest concentrations of service members in the world, San Diego should take a stand to protect all its citizens from such discrimination," he said.
Ben Gomez, who was in the Navy, said gays in the military are in constant fear of losing their jobs, a worry that has driven some to commit suicide.
"Because of `Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' service members are forced to remain silent and lie in order to save their careers and sometimes their lives," Gomez told the council.