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Flashback, Kerry's speech in opposition to DADT

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ProSense Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-18-10 10:15 PM
Original message
Flashback, Kerry's speech in opposition to DADT
Edited on Sat Dec-18-10 10:18 PM by ProSense
In 1993, Senator Boxer submitted an amendment that would have stripped DADT from from the defense bill. Senator Kerry supported that amendment, which failed 33-63:

● Codification of the Ban on Gays and Lesbians in the Military (September 9, 1993)
Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) offered an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act of 1994 (S. AMDT. 783 to S. 1298) to prevent codification of the discriminatory Dont Ask, Dont Tell policy on lesbians and gays in the military. The amendment failed 33-63 (Record Vote No. 250). HRC supported this amendment. Biden also supported it.


Roll call

A few months earlier, Kerry delivered the following speech opposing DADT.



FRIDAY, MAY 7, 1993
Senator KERRY. Well, I appreciate that, Mr. Chairman.

Senator WARNER. Mr. Chairman, could I also join in that? I have had the privilege of knowing him, and I was actually Secretary of the Navy in the Gulf with the riverine, and his reputation was well known as one of the finest that ever served.

Senator KERRY. Thank you very much, sir. I appreciate that. In fact, I have your signature on one of my awards, which I appreciate.

Senator WARNER. Thank you, Senator.

Senator KERRY. Mr. Chairman, I want to first of all thank you and congratulate you and the committee for the sober, serious way, which is the way you and members of this committee have always approached issues. While some might disagree with venues or locales or process occasionally, I think you have bent over backwards to guarantee that this is a discussion that is at a higher level than some discussions we have around here, and I respect that and appreciate it.

I want to tell you that I have a discomfort in being here, and it is not the discomfort some might sense or want to attribute to my being here. It is a discomfort that one always feels when you kind of know the votes are, where the sort of popular sentiment is, and you recognize that you are speaking against popular sentiment.

I have also had my share in the course of the last 20 years of disagreeing with people I have enormous respect and affection for, some of whom I even served with, and that is never easy. It is never fun to kind of step into the brickbats that flow out of deeply felt emotional issues. And certainly there are many with respect to military service.

So, I express that discomfort, and I particularly feel it when I disagree with somebody with such enormous reputation and whom I hold in such regard, like Colin Powell or Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf.

I think also I want to say for the record that I come here absolutely committed, as I think every Senator is, to having a military that is second to none in the world. We all understand the dangers of this world. We understand the need for cohesiveness, effectiveness, and force readiness. And we are proud of our military. We have every right and reason in the world to be proud of it, and I am.

One of the things, notwithstanding my opposition to a moment in history, opposition to a war, I might add which I did not express until about 2 years I got back and my patience was worn thin and enough of my friends had been lost in what I felt was then a loss of strategy, I would say that notwithstanding that opposition I always had the highest affection for my wearing the uniform, for service. I still get goosebumps when I hear engines roar on an aircraft carrier or when I see the flag go by. And I think it is important to understand that as I talk about why I care about this issue and why I think it is important to all of us.

I also come here as a person who went to Vietnam, as I did in those days, not with our unit, not with a bunch of people we trained with, but I flew over in an airplane, landed, and met my crew for the first time in my life over there. The men that I would fight and die with.

And I must say to you, respectfully, I never looked at them or asked them what their religion was, what their creed was. And there were Blacks. I did not have to ask questions about color, but I never asked them about anything that divided us or might have with respect to that.

I cared about only one thing. Could they fight? Were they loyal? Were they ready? Were they capable? Were they good fighting people? And did they have the capacity to go into battle and to do what one has to in battle and they did, all of them, without exception.

And so I think it is important to remember that. I take seriously the arguments of respected people within the military when they say this is going to be difficult, it is going to be upsetting. Indeed, it might be somewhat difficult but I do believe deeply Mr. Chairman, we are making much more of this than we need to or than we ought to be a country that can defeat Hitler is a country that can deal with people, whether it is a question of holding hands on a base or otherwise.

Now I share with others the notion that the military is a special place entitled to operate by special rules. And although we might wish otherwise, the fact is that freedom of expression as we commonly know it in America, the freedom to speak out and to dissent, does not translate into the military context, and our rules say so.

But that is not what is at stake here. What is at stake here is the freedom in this country to be who you are, what you are born as, and to reflect that in all the opportunities that are available to you in life including the opportunity, I might say, to fight or die for your country. And it is incomprehensible to me that we as a nation should become somehow discriminatory in the process of defining people's patriotism and willingness to die for their country.

Now, we have to approach this issue understanding that like other large institutions the military carries with it a built-in bias against change. All institutions do. And that bias should not be ignored, but it can be overcome.

On this issue, the attitude of those in positions of responsibility who oppose change are relevant to how you go about this and what you have to do, but I think you need to put them in their proper perspective.

And so, having said all of that, Mr. Chairman, let me be very clear about my own views. I think it is fundamentally wrong to continue to deny gay and lesbian Americans the right to participate in the armed forces of the United States. Why? Because, quite simply, there is nothing inherent in homosexuality that makes a gay American incapable of serving. We know that. Everyone has acknowledged it

We know that on the names on the Wall there are folks who are gay. We know that buried in Arlington National Cemetery there are folks who are gay. We know that there are gays in the military now because we are drumming them out, spending millions of dollars a year to do it, and losing the talent we have trained in the process. So, we know that gays can serve. That is not the issue. And we should not even worry about how many did or did not serve because if the policy is changed, clearly you do not bother to keep count.

We also know as, I think, a truth about our approach to service in this country, that no one should enter the military service as a hyphenated American, as a representative of group of Americans. Rather, you enter as a defender of all Americans, and that is the criteria. And also, no American who does join the military ought to be forced to deny a fundamental part of their being.

Now, I think you really have to ask yourself how the armed forces can either properly or righteously and morally protect freedom if its own policies deny freedom to a significant minority of our citizens. And I think it is useless and wasteful to even argue about the size of the minority. If there are a number of people who want to serve, that is sufficient.

Now, I think we have to ask ourselves hard questions here, and some of them begin with definitions of the notion of leadership. We have to ask, what do we gain by continuing to codify a lie that there are no gays in the military, and by treating gay and lesbian service people as second class citizens, driving them to deceive people and forcing them into lives of secrecy and needless and senseless fear, something we try as a society to preclude.

What you are really talking about here ultimately, Mr. Chairman, quite simply is a policy of intolerance that either diminishes us or dishonors us.


DADT is finaly dead. Good riddance to a bad policy.

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panader0 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-18-10 10:23 PM
Response to Original message
1. Rec for John Kerry
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ohtransplant Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-18-10 11:34 PM
Response to Original message
2. Principle over politics...
Why has this become so rare?
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zulchzulu Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-19-10 01:02 AM
Response to Original message
3. Of course, Kerry was spot on
I thank him many times for his service. He is indeed an American hero.
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karynnj Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-19-10 11:08 AM
Response to Reply #3
4. He really is
I hadn't seen this before and it is fascinating. I wish I had seen this in - say 2003. It shows how Kerry's service and his Vietnam protests were both honest reflections of his patriotism, honesty and morality. Warner's comment at the beginning is really great, When Warner left the Senate, Kerry, who was a real friend of his, got his office.
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