Last year, Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-PA), who served the military in both Bosnia and Iraq and was awarded the Bronze Star for Service, took the lead on legislation to end the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy when then-Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-CA) left Congress to join the State Department. “My time in Iraq taught me that our military needs and deserves the best and the brightest who are willing to serve,” wrote Murphy in a Politico op-ed. “Gays and lesbians are serving with honor and valor in Iraq and Afghanistan — and have served in every previous conflict in U.S. history.” But now that prospects for repealing the law are increasing, conservatives are attacking Murphy’s relationship with the military. In an e-mail last night, the Family Research Council (FRC) said he doesn’t “respect the military’s opinion”:
His House counterpart, Rep. Ike Skelton (D-Mo.), recognized the risks and refused to let his Committee get involved in a premature debate over repeal. With the support of ranking Republican Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), Rep. Skelton steered the Committee away from any plans to attach DADT to the Defense Authorization bill. “You won’t find any mention of the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’” he said. “Mr. McKeon and I have spoken about this, we have agreed to support Admiral Mullen and Secretary Gates’s request for time to study the issue, and we do not support this issue being raised in this markup.”
Unfortunately, Rep. Skelton’s respect for the military’s opinion isn’t shared by Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Pa.) and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who plan on offering an amendment to overturn DADT in the spending bill as soon as it hits the floor. Whether they can find 218 votes to hijack the legislation is unknown.
It’s not surprising that FRC’s e-mail neglects to mention Murphy’s service to his country. In fact, Murphy’s support for repealing the law is based on his respect for the maturity and patriotism of those who serve. Responding to claims that openly gay soldiers would hurt unit cohesion, Murphy argues: “Straight men and women in our armed forces, this argument asserts, aren’t professional enough to serve with gay troops while doing their jobs. As a former Army officer, that is an insult to me and, more important, to my fellow soldiers still serving — gay and straight alike.”