Sometimes I’m not fully awake when C-Span’s “Washington Journal” comes on at 4AM Pacific, so this morning I thought I was dreaming when I heard that the Miami Herald was reporting that Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (photo, right) was co-sponsoring a bill to end the U.S. military’s ban on gays.
On the national scene, Ros-Lehtinen is as reliable a Gop talking head as can be found. In fact, I don’ t think there’s ever been a Republican policy that she didn’t like or wouldn’t defend. So call me cynical when I hear that now – when military recruitment is reaching dangerously low levels – this rightwing stalwart suddenly wants to let homos become cannon fodder for a disastrous war that her party has foisted on the world.
At odds with her party’s leadership, Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Miami is urging the Pentagon to allow gay men and lesbians to serve in the military — a direct challenge to “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
”We’ve tried the policy. I don’t think it works. And we’ve spent a lot of money enforcing it,” said Ros-Lehtinen, a member of the Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations, who Tuesday co-sponsored a bill allowing gays to serve.
”We investigate people. Bring them up on charges. Basically wreck their lives,” she told The Herald. “People who’ve signed up to serve our country. We should be thanking them.”
Although her support won’t change the law overnight, it represents a dramatic break with GOP leadership over a hot-button issue that has split both parties and the nation.
Ros-Lehtinen (with House Republicans Christopher Shays of Connecticut and Jim Kolbe of Arizona) joins 70 Democrats in support of the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, introduced last month by Rep. Marty Meehan, D-Mass., to repeal the longtime gay ban.
I think it’s admirable that gay men and women want to serve in the military, and there’s no rational reason why they should be banned. And I suppose that if it takes an injust war for which the casus belli was a tissue of lies and fabrication to get these folks their due so be it.
Now let’s wait and see if any closeted gay Republicans – representatives Mark Foley (R-FL) and David Drier (R-CA) and Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman, among others – come out in favor of the Military Readiness Enhancement Act.