As the Pentagon prepares to release its 10-month review of the consequences of repealing the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, AmericaBlog’s Joe Sudbay flags this quote from Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR), one of only two Democrats to support a Republican filibuster of the measure in September:
In an interview, Sen. Mark Pryor said he will vote against any bill that includes a repeal of the policy.
In the waning days of the current Congress, he said, lawmakers should focus on legislation that aims to produce jobs, not on contentious issues that have stymied them before.
Although the report reportedly says that “don’t ask, don’t tell” can be repealed without undermining military readiness, Pryor said the armed services should deliberate a bit longer before making any policy changes, adding, “I want to give the military the time to do what they’re doing.”
But the status quo won’t last, Pryor said.
“Society has changed a lot,” he said, “and over time, this policy will change.”
While he said he considers homosexuality a sin and is concerned about where gay troops would be housed, “we live in a society where we accept other people’s lifestyles, so I don’t want to be judgmental,” Pryor said.
Still, he voiced concerns that a repeal of “don’t ask” might make life harder for the troops’ anti-homosexual spiritual leaders.
“If the policy is changed, what impact does that have on chaplains?” Pryor asked. “Does it impede a chaplain from doing what he thinks is his duty to God and country?”
Interestingly, Pryor, who has previously said that Congress should “let the military professionals work through their process” “before we start making policy here on ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,’” is announcing his position before even reading the study and is doing so using talking points from the Family Research Council, an organization recently classified as a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Given his characterization of homosexuality as “sin”, the implicit reference seems fitting, even if the attack isn’t. First, military leaders have repeatedly argued that the Pentagon’s review will provide it with sufficient information and guidance into the consequences of repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has actually called on Congress to pass repeal in the lame duck session, so as to preempt a court-mandated change. Second, the FRC’s and Pryor’s concerns about the freedom of military chaplains are just fictitious. As Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson — the first openly gay priest elected bishop in the worldwide Anglican Communion — has pointed out, policies “designed to preserve and protect the free exercise of religion in the military and would remain in effect after the repeal” of the policy. “No Roman Catholic, fundamentalist Christian or Orthodox Jewish chaplain would have to change her or his beliefs about homosexuality. If any gay or lesbian servicemembers went to one of these chaplains, they would still receive the counseling against homosexuality they have always received. What they wouldn’t receive is a discharge from their military service for being gay and speaking about it,” he writes.
Repeated attempts to contact Pryor’s office via email and phone for a clarification of the Senator’s remarks went unanswered.