Posted by CahirO at 3/17/2009 6:15 PM ED
On a day when the aged and distinctly pious New York Saint Patrick’s Day Parade Committee demonstrate, once again, that being gay and Irish are officially incompatible conditions, it's encouraging to see (any) prominent Irish American standing up for inclusivity and tolerance.
Meet Congressman Jim Moran, Virginia Democrat and senior member of the House Military Appropriations Subcommittee. “I’m so Irish the inbreeding issue was of concern,” Moran tells Irish Central. “My parents grew up in Saint Margaret’s parish in South Boston.”
Last week Moran took to the House floor to discuss the eleven U.S. troops discharged from military service under the controversial Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) policy during the first month of 2009.
Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is the common term for the military policy that prohibits any homosexual or bisexual person from disclosing their sexual orientation or from speaking about any relationships, including marriages or other familial attributes, while serving in the armed forces.
“At a time when our military’s readiness is strained to the breaking point from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, our armed forces still continue to discharge vital service members under the outdated, outmoded Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy that makes us less safe and secure,” added Moran.
“Frankly, most nations are not hung up on a soldiers sexual orientation. They’re more focused on accomplishing the task at hand and that’s what I think we should be doing in our military. We couldn't afford to lose the 10,000 service members who were discharged over the last ten year period from 1997 to 2007.”
In January 2009, the Army fired eleven soldiers for homosexuality including one human intelligence collector, one military police officer, four infantry personnel, a health care specialist, a motor transport operator and water treatment specialist.
The question is, will these be the last? Or will President Obama’s Pentagon discharge more mission-critical intelligence specialists next month?
“When you find this level of vehemence you have to wonder about people’s motivations. I think the principle reason is one of intolerance and prejudice.”
Moran has vowed to keep addressing the issue each month until DADT is repealed. In doing so, he joins the venerable ranks of Irish Americans who have chosen to stand with the marginalized against the powerful, in the best scrappy tradition of the Irish in the U.S.
We wish him every success and a Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!