Rep. Shuler votes against “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal

Late last week Democratic Rep. Heath Shuler voted against repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military, asserting that he was honoring the requests of military leaders. Despite his opposition, the measure passed 234-194.

On May 27, Shuler voted against repeal, joining 25 other Democrats and 168 Republican representatives. Meanwhile, 229 Democrats were joined by five Republicans in voting for repeal.

In a legislative update the next day, Shuler asserted the following about his vote:

“There was also a vote on repealing the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in the military. I have the utmost confidence in the ability of our military leaders to set the policies and procedures that will best serve our men and women in uniform, and our country. A Department of Defense review of the “Don’t ask, don’t Tell” policy is under way and is expected to be completed by December 1, 2010. The Joint Chiefs of Staff for the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines have all urged Congress not to act until that review is completed. In my mind, this is not an unreasonable request. For me, this question is not one of access to serve, but of how we can best honor the requests of our military leaders.

I wish all our veterans, service members and their families a happy and meaningful Memorial Day. You have my utmost respect and gratitude always.”

In a February Senate hearing, Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he personally supported repealing the ban. However, Mullen has also said that ideally he would prefer that legislators wait until the study is completed before acting on the matter.

The Senate Armed Services Committee approved repeal the same day, though the full Senate still has to vote on the matter.

If it passes Congress, the House bill removing the 17-year-old “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy will give the Pentagon until the end of the year to complete its study before the repeal goes into effect.

— David Forbes, senior reporter


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46 thoughts on “Rep. Shuler votes against “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal

  1. Just as well. What the repealers forget is that not all gays want to stay in the military as service is involuntary after enlistment. Under current policies, anyone who wants out can get out by believably claiming to be gay. If DADT is repealed, a major path to freedom will be cut off especially for gays but also for straights that can pass for gay. The repealers would do better to fight for full benefits and honerable status for those discharged under DADT than to fight the discharges themselves.

  2. David J. Oliver Sr.

    Imagine this scenario; Your in a life threatening situation and that person next to you can save your life. Are you truly going to care rather he or she is gay or not?

    People preach of acceptance, unification and one world. How can we as human beings reach our goal when we categorize everyone….

    He’s gay, he’s a redneck, he’s black, he’s mexican, she’s a lesbian, and on and on…

    Why would one person way be the right when there are two sides too every story?

    I am a ex-marine and if that marine next to me could save my life or I can save his or her life, I do not care about his or her sexual preference.

    Acceptance is necessary and needed in order for us to grow as a people.

  3. jay205

    Ken, why do you say that? Because he voted to let the military leaders have the time they requested to review the changes? While it is not a good policy, is it a good idea to just make the stark change against the advice of the people who have to make it work? Seems that this is something that has been slowly working its way to fruition, and is only getting ramped up now to cover for some rather stark embarrasments of the Administration. That is kind of scary, since those types of political moves could seriously hamper attempts to remove DA/DT

    Or is your embaressment due to the other votes, such as his indefensible support for Pelosi or Cap-and-Trade?

  4. tatuaje

    I’m so tired of christians trying to force their morals on others and then claiming that their religious beliefs weren’t their motivation.

    Especially when they invariably turn out to be hypocrites.

  5. mgarren

    If this were about race or ethnicity there would be riots in the streets. For some reason in this country it is considered OK to deny the same basic human rights for Gays in every facet of life in the US that heterosexuals enjoy. Regarding the military, every service member I have every known says they really don’t care if someone is Gay or not so long as they’re doing their job. Every ally we currently have in Afghanistan and Iraq have allowed GLBT service members to serve honestly for years, and it is not an issue for them. Why is it for us?

  6. Laura

    Alan, to say that DADT is an escape route is absolutely ridiculous. As of 18, you are a grown adult, which means you are expected to make your own decisions and follow through with the consequences, both good and bad. To sign a contract for the military, as I have for the Marine Corps, you are making that 4-5 year commitment to serve, and you are legally responsible for fulfilling that promise to the government. It is irresponsible and childish to use something like DADT to get out without any legal reprecussions.

    I completely back the removal of the DADT policy. It, as much as some have used it to shirk their responsibilities and duties, is a hinderance to actual gay and lesbian people that love their job and want to continue service. Those people will no longer have to fear getting discharged because they “got caught” being with who they love.

  7. Lamont Cranston

    Heath Shuler: Wrong on health care reform, wrong on Net Neutrality, wrong on D.A.D.T….

    What’s next??

    What policy blunder will befall the good people of the 11th district due to his ignorance of world around him and lack of compassion?? What good is he, and just who thinks for him, and directs his votes: His good buddies the “C” Streeter’s and their bankrupt family values?? It has to be somebody else as it appears that this guy couldn’t figure his way out of paper bag if he were given instructions, and a flashlight.

    Representative Heath Shuler: Wrong for the 11th District, and just plain clueless in the matters of quality of life issues.

    Geesh, we the people, deserve better.

  8. Rob Close

    If you saw the episode of “What Would You Do?” that had the mean waiter refuse service to various types of couples, you’ll notice how few Americans spoke up for the homosexual couples.

    The amount of discrimination in this country is still appalling. Why? I do not know.

  9. Johnny

    Shuler writes:

    “I have the utmost confidence in the ability of our military leaders to set the policies and procedures that will best serve our men and women in uniform, and our country.”

    Well, I don’t have that confidence, and even if I did I would not leave it up to them. The military leaders in the United States report to a civilian Commander in Chief, and he or she reports to us. Those are pretty important parts of us be who we are, no?

    What the hell, folks….It’s not ok for the U.S. Govt. to discriminate. Could this be more simple?

    Shuler deserves to lose his seat.

  10. Piffy!

    [b]Why is it for us? [/b]

    Because it is a ripe wedge issue that politicians can use to manipulate their idiotic, emotional Conservative Christians supporters.

  11. It really does look like Mr. Shuler does not understand that in America the military serves at the discretion of the civilian authority. The military does not set policy. They follow orders. DADT is an embarrasment to the American military and all the men and women who serve this country.

  12. dpewen

    I agree Heath is an embarrassment! This is another example of christians trying to dictate their version of morality … that is not the job of elected officals! I am so sick of these idiots!

  13. Dionysis

    Not only does Shuler ignore the fact that the military is subordinate to civilian rule and is using that unjustified excuse to hamper long overdue reform, he continually sides with corporate interests over the citizens he is supposed to represent. Whether it’s fealty to his health insurance masters or to the telecom giants who oppose net neutrality, he can always be counted on to vote against the interests of citizens and in favor of corporations and the status quo, lip service notwithstanding.

    Sure, there are some among his constituents who approve of his corporatist loyalties, and give him a big thumbs-up when he genuflects to his corporate masters and turn a blind eye to his association with the religious whack jobs of ‘The Family’ (the ‘C’ Street’ crew). Whether they will be enough to keep this DINO in office remains to be seen.

  14. travelah

    Shuler is obvioulsy depending on a constituency beyond the influence of the GLT (forgot the 4th letter)and if he is re-elected, good for him.

  15. tatuaje

    It’s not only people in the LGBT community that support the LGBT community.

    And there’s many more of his constituency besides the LGBT community who are ready to show this corporate panderer the door.

  16. Laura, there is a great deal of deceit in recruitment, from Stop Loss to national guard call ups, to all manor of marketing tricks. So if DADT is one of the few ways out for those that have been so tricked, and can pass for gay, then I’m for it. There are many contientious objectors in Canada, facing deportation this time, in jail and elsewhere who could have been free if they had passed for gay.

  17. Mike

    Rep Shuler should lose his seat. Blue Dog Democrat, more like a Republican every day. I look forward to working hard to unseat him.

  18. zulu

    Whoop da- friggin’-doo. So what Heath voted against the repeal. Have you paid attention to the details? This “repeal” doesn’t take effect until the military is done with its “review” and then only IF the military says repeal is okay!!!! This vote was meaningless showboating, a theatrical production for those who are easily misled. Too many of us mistake WORDS for ACTION.

  19. R.Bernier opinions

    The progressives have no choice but to vote for Mr.Shuler in November – end of story.

  20. Piffy!

    Okay, so travelah is on the record saying he wants to see Heath Shuler re-elected. Not surprising, but interesting.

  21. cwaster

    “And there’s many more of his constituency besides the LGBT community who are ready to show this corporate panderer the door.”

    I sure am. Let’s vote this corporate discriminating elitist panderer (in my opinion) out the door.

  22. Bert

    Shuler’s strategy is to ignore Asheville liberals because he figures they don’t have the majority of votes in WNC. In return, Asheville is pretty ticked with many swearing they will never vote for him again. The big question is whether Shuler can survive without liberal voters. As I’ve said before, if you are liberal in Asheville expect a recorded phone call from Obama in late October begging you to get out and vote for Heath. The complicated thing is even though Shuler votes against liberal legislation, by caucusing with the Dems he gives them the majority they need to get the legislation voted on.

  23. Bert I wander around the back woods of Mr. Shulers district and it is not near as solidly conservative a population as some would like to believe. He may think he can ignore Asheville liberals, but he is also discounting between 30% and 40% of the voters in the rest of his district.

  24. travelah

    Okay, so travelah is on the record saying he wants to see Heath Shuler re-elected. Not surprising, but interesting.

    pffschtickums is on record as once again not knowing what he is talking about.

  25. Jessica B.

    “So when you said “If he gets re-elected, Good for him” you meant what? ”

    He obviously meant that so long as Shuler continues to ignore the LGBT community, he likes him just fine.

  26. entopticon

    Heath Shuler is an embarassment.

    I’d say disgrace, but embarrassment works too. Shuler is unconscionable.

  27. entopticon

    Not at all surprising that traveliar, who also thinks it is disgraceful that Episcopalians allow gay clergy, chimed in with his inevitable “yay for bigotry” cheer.

    Barry Goldwater, who fervently believed that homosexuals should be allowed to openly serve in the military, and fervently opposed don’t-ask-don’t-tell, would be spinning in his grave to see traveliar using his picture as his icon.

    Barry Goldwater on people such as traveliar opposing gays serving openly in the military:

    “Well, that’s just stupid.”

    That’s right traveliar, Barry Goldwater thought you are stupid.

    A few other quotes from Barry Goldwater on gays in the military:

    “I served in the armed forces. I have flown more than 150 of the best fighter planes and bombers this country manufactured. I founded the Arizona National Guard. I chaired the Senate Armed Services Committee. And I think it’s high time to pull the curtains on this charade of policy.”

    “The conservative movement, to which I subscribe, has as one of its basic tenets the belief that government should stay out of people’s private lives. Government governs best when it governs least – and stays out of the impossible task of legislating morality. But legislating someone’s version of morality is exactly what we do by perpetuating discrimination against gays.”

    “After more than 50 years in the military and politics, I am still amazed to see how upset people can get over nothing. Lifting the ban on gays in the military isn’t exactly nothing, but it’s pretty damned close.”

    “Everyone knows that gays have served honorably in the military since at least the time of Julius Caesar. They’ll still be serving long after we’re all dead and buried. That should not surprise anyone.”

    “It’s no great secret that military studies have proved again and again that there’s no valid reason for keeping the ban on gays.”

    “When the facts lead to one conlusion, I say it’s time to act, not to hide. The country and the military know that eventually the ban will be lifted. The only remaining questions are how much muck we will all be dragged through, and how many brave Americans like Tom Paniccia and Margarethe Cammermeyer will have their lives and careers destroyed in a senseless attempt to stall the inevitable.”

    “What should undermine our readiness would be a compromise policy like “Don’t ask, don’t tell.” That compromise doesn’t deal with the issue – it tries to hide it.”

    “We have wasted enough precious time, money and talent trying to persecute and pretend. It’s time to stop burying our heads in the sand and denying reality for the sake of politics. It’s time to deal with this straight on and be done with it.”

  28. entopticon

    Ironically, a far more apt moniker icon for an anti-gay evangelical right wing extremist such as traveliar would be Pat Robertson, who Goldwater openly despised.

    “I would warn Orlando that you’re right in the way of some serious hurricanes, and I don’t think I’d be waving those flags in God’s face if I were you, This is not a message of hate — this is a message of redemption. But a condition like this will bring about the destruction of your nation. It’ll bring about terrorist bombs; it’ll bring earthquakes, tornadoes, and possibly a meteor.”

    –Pat Robertson, on “gay days” at Disneyworld

  29. travelah

    So when you said “If he gets re-elected, Good for him” you meant what?

    er … I meant good for him. What did you think I meant, your porch is on fire?

  30. travelah

    entopticon is not taking his meds again …. I have not voiced an opinion of homosexuals in the military and don’t think the issue is worth wasting much space on.

  31. entopticon

    Shuler is obvioulsy depending on a constituency beyond the influence of the GLT (forgot the 4th letter)and if he is re-elected, good for him.

    No opinion? Good to see that traveliar is just as honesty-impaired as ever. There are few things funnier than when traveliar actually thinks he is clever by dancing around his own positions.

    Barry Goldwater thought you are stupid traveliar. Lump it.

  32. travelah

    I will be contributing to Shuler’s Republican opponent. That pretty much clarifies my stance on Shuler (at least for those with a functioning cerebellum)

  33. Bert

    “Bert I wander around the back woods of Mr. Shulers district and it is not near as solidly conservative a population as some would like to believe.”

    I want to believe that very much. But we haven’t had a solid liberal able to win WNC. Charles Taylor destroyed every Democratic opponent before Shuler came along as a pro life pro gun Democrat. I’m just going by what the election history here is.

    If you don’t like Heath Shuler, you need to talk to the people that voted for him. In a democracy, we deserve the politicians we get because we put them there.

    If you are liberal/progressive in WNC, you are going to have a choice between a far right Republican and a conservative Democrat. That’s not a great choice, I agree. But we have primaries and campaigns for a reason, so the opportunity is there if people are willing to work for change.

    Heath Shuler could care less what you write about him on a comment board. What will really scare him is when we have a majority of voters in Western North Carolina who support the rights and dignity of gays and lesbians.

  34. T100C-1970

    Hey Dan,
    Imagine THIS scenario. You are a raw male or female recruit about 18 years old.. Your grizzly old male or female Seargent about 33 years old who weighs twice what you weigh and is twice as strong as you are invites you in to his or her private room in your barracks and tells you that he/she finds you attractive and goes on to say how he/she can make your basic training “fun” if you go along. Naturally he/she says he/she can make your basic training HELL if you don’t.

    This crap goes on NOW (especially on the female side)

    PLEASE don’t try to tell me .. BUT.. BUT.. NOBODY wants that and its already illegal. I UNDERSTAND it would be illegal. 99.9% of all the preganant female soldiers in Iraq and Afghan also broke rules.

    Since we already KNOW that human beings break most every rule they couldn’t bend — why set up a new class of victims.

    I AM a US Army Vet.

  35. entopticon

    T100C-1970, Cullen… It is hard to even imagine how that applies to gays in the military. If anything, DADT would make people far LESS likely to report the abuse that you are talking about. Making people pretend they aren’t gay doesn’t somehow make it all better. Your argument is no different than if there was a DADT policy about being Jewish.

  36. T100C-1970

    Hey Entopticon,

    I am NOT an advocate for DADT. Having served as a company grade commissioned officer in the Army, I understand first hand that “lifestyle characteristics” can fracture unit cohesion. For this reason, I am against homosexual membership in the military period. But I do think DADT is better than open service.

    (And NO, RACE IS NOT THE SAME THING — by the time I served in the 70’s race was mostly not a problem… and when it WAS a problem it was almost always caused by white (or black) “militants” who felt the need to assert their “whiteness” or “blackness” instead of their Armyness). Feel free to substitute “gayness”.

    The gender integration of units that must live in close quarters has ALREADY caused many problems including pregnancies while deployed, fights and outright fratricide among competing lovers. This has infected even the officer corps… Remember the (hetero) female naval officer / astronaut who drove non-stop from Houston to Orlando to take out another astronaut who was competing with her for the affections of a third (male) astronaut.
    Remember operation tailhook? Remember all of the sexual harassment/rape charges at the USAF Academy… Now these cases all involved (future) OFFICERS. If you don’t think personal behavior of ENLISTED personnel could possibly be worse than this, I can understand — but you would be WRONG.

    Why introduce even more that sort of stuff?


  37. entopticon

    For this reason, I am against homosexual membership in the military period.

    If you can’t see that that is just as easy to apply to any culture or religion, you aren’t being honest with yourself. I hope you can come to terms with your bigotry.

    Remember, remember, nothing justifies bigotry, against gays or any other group. People did indeed use the same exact rationalizations for blacks in the military.

  38. pff

    Entop-I think t100 makes some reasonable points, and makes no attempt to hide his perspective, which is admirable.

    For the sake of argument: There are no civil rights in the military, right? Why not let the military accept who they choose to accept?

  39. mgarren

    If we “let the military accept who they choose to accept”, then it would be a military of ONLY land-owning, white, Christian, heterosexual men. No others would be allowed. It is only because of civil rights legislation that others have been allowed in over the years.
    And, no, being in the military does not get rid of your civil rights, sure life is different, but you still have certain rights. Such as when someone asks you what you did during your leave, you could answer “I went on a date with my boyfriend, you know, dinner and a movie kind of thing”. And not have to worry about losing everything you’ve worked for. So far as I am aware, casual conversation has never been outlawed in the military.

    If we don’t allow them to serve honestly, doesn’t that affect the ability to be an honorable soldier? The current system forces you to lie from day one about your most basic existence.

    Since we’re just going to allow them to accept certain people, we ought to roll everything back to when that was true and kick-out all the women, racial, ethnic, and religious “minorities” so that our fragile military can start all over again.

  40. entopticon

    I can’t say that I see those points as reasonable in any way. I don’t see any good reasons there whatsoever. Other countries allow gays in their military, and they haven’t devolved into giant gay sex orgies. The notion that the military will fall apart if gay people are allowed to serve in it without pretending that they are straight is not reasonable in any way.

    There are no civil rights in the military, right? Why not let the military accept who they choose to accept?”

    That argument is every bit as unacceptable for discriminating against gays as it was when it was used as a rationalization for discriminating against blacks in the military.

    Homophobes just need to suck it up and get the hell over it. Catering to the whims of their imbecilic bigotry only exacerbates it.

  41. T100C-1970

    Folks like mgarren, making wild, outlandish, and claims that are completely unsupported by any evidence discredit only their own causes.

    If mgarren followed the news, she would know that a “progressive” attitude is now needed to make it to the highest positions in the Military. Examples include GEN Wesley Clark, ADM Mullen (current CJCS) came out in favor of dropping DADT. ALL levels of the Army chain of command refused to use the “I” word in discussing the recent unpleasantness at Ft. Hood.


  42. johncopeland

    Oh ye of little faith in our elected officials. So let it be written, so let it be done, that the gays in the military issue be used to continue to divide the voters into a mental stupor rather than deal with the real issues of importance before the nation. Can we not move forward and do what is right and best by allowing gays to serve openly in the military as citizens that they are and as respected members of society? Rep. Shuler would prefer to postpone the decision and do another “study” which will waste more $million$ of our tax dollars on an issue that any one with any intellect knows should have already been done. As Barry Goldwater said “It’s no great secret that military studies have proved again and again that there’s no valid reason for keeping the ban on gays.” Let us praise those in Congress who have shown true leadership and vote the rest out.

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