According to a July 25th Associated Press article by Kristen Wyatt, Speaker Of The House Nancy Pelosi appointed openly gay Representative Jared Polis (D Colorado) to the U.S. Air Force Academy's Board of Visitors.
Polis, who took office in January as the first openly gay non-incumbent ever elected to congress, is now also the first openly gay member to serve on an oversight board at any of the military service academies. This, of course, immediately set off waves of speculation about the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy itself.
People on both sides of the DADT policy are openly wondering if Polis' appointment is a signal that change is coming.
"We're all reading the tea leaves here," said Tricia Heller, a Class of '87 Air Force Academy graduate who flew C-9 jets for the Air Force before the leaving the service four years ago and coming out.
"I'm not saying 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' is going away. We can't say that. But this is a good sign."
For the supporters of DADT, this appointment signals the policy''s undoing.
"This is more than a signal," said Elaine Donnelly, president of the Washington-based Center For Military Readiness, a group of mostly civilians that favors banning gays from service. "I think when you're talking about the service academies, you're talking about the future of the military leadership. So this appointment, it appears to be advocacy."
Polis said that he doesn't plan to push for a change through the Board. But when asked about the future of DADT, he said that he expects that Congress could start debating its repeal as early as this fall. He added:
"We expect that [DADT] to end shortly, and I look forward to being a value to the Academy in making the transition."
I truly hope that he's right. This is one of the most destructive, cruel and idiotic military policies politicians have ever passed and it's end can't come soon enough.
In A Related Story...
The Advocate reported yesterday that newly appointed Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York announced Monday that the Senate Armed Services Committee will hold hearings this fall on DADT.
“This policy is wrong for our national security and wrong for the moral foundation upon which our country was founded,” Senator Gillibrand said in a statement. “I thank Chairman Levin for agreeing to hold this important hearing. Numerous military leaders are telling us that the times have changed. ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is an unfair, outdated measure that violates the civil rights of some of our bravest, most heroic men and women. By repealing this policy, we will increase America’s strength -- both militarily and morally.”
Although no repeal bill has been submitted yet, it is expected that Senator Edward Kennedy, who has been a long-time champion of repealing DADT, will introduce his bill as soon as he can find a Republican co-sponsor.
Gillibrand said that her effort to build support for a temporary moratorium on DADT discharges had helped push the ball forward.
Finally! Now, if we can just get the repeal of DOMA moving forward...