During his re-election bid this past November, Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) said that he supported the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy and expressed concern about “changing the accommodations for troops if the policy changed.” But following the Pentagon’s review of the ban and the testimony of military leadership, Burr ultimately voted for final passage of repeal, even as he remained worried about lifting the measure during a period of war. “I feel that this policy is outdated and repeal is inevitable,” he said in a statement. “However, I remain convinced that the timing of this change is wrong, and making such a shift in policy at a time when we have troops deployed in active combat areas does not take into consideration the seriousness of the situation on the ground.”
Burr’s vote took repeal advocates and his conservative constituents by surprise. Qnotes, a North Carolina based newspaper, is reporting that the harshest remarks came from Mecklenburg County commissioner Bill James, who compared gay people to “sexual predators” and warned that Burr will pay a price for his vote:
“Homosexuals are sexual predators,” James wrote in one email from a string of several between county board members, Roberts and County Manager Harry Jones, and provided by James to qnotes. “Allowing homosexuals to serve in the US military with the endorsement of the Mecklenburg County Commission ignores a host of serious problems related to maintaining US military readiness and effectiveness not the least of which is the current Democrat plan to allow homosexuals (male and female) to share showers with those they are attracted to.”
James added, “The US Government would not allow Hetero men and women to share showers and other personal facilities yet the leading homosexual in Congress (Barney Frank) thinks it is OK for homosexuals to do so allowing enlisted men and women to fall prey to higher ranking or more powerful homosexuals who ogle them (or worse).” [...]
“I suspect Richard Burr will pay a high electoral price for his actions but whether it boots him from office next time is unknown,” James wrote. “I know I won’t be supporting him even if he does have an R after his name.”
This isn’t the first time James has relied on homophobic slurs, Qnotes reports: “He often uses derogatory language or slurs to describe LGBT people in debates or communication with fellow public officials and constituents. During debate last December on domestic partner benefits for county employees, James leaned over to his Democratic colleague, Vilma Leake, and called her son a ‘homo.’ Leake’s son died from AIDS in the 1990s.”
But while conservatives in North Carolina are only rhetorically condemning repeal, social activists in Virginia — whose two Democratic Senators also supported lifting the ban — are proposing a bill that would ban gays from serving in the Virginia National Guard. Gov. Bob McDonnell (R), commander in chief of the Guard, still supports DADT but said that the proposal is unconstitutional, since the “National Guard should follow the same rules as the rest of the military.”
Cross-posted on The Wonk Room.