Sen. Al Franken gave a passionate speech about allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military on Tuesday afternoon. Franken, who has performed at a number of USO shows for troops throughout the years, got choked up as he recalled for his Senate colleagues speaking with gay and lesbian troops who had to remain in the closet. A repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was included in a defense authorization bill that was filibustered by Republicans and three Democrats in the Senate.
Franken said, “If you ask every man and woman on that base, who would you rather have standing to your right, standing to your left, that gay man or that gay woman who has been serving with you the last year, or somebody comes in here with a moral waiver and those troops who had moral waivers, many of them served very honorably and bravely, or some with a cognitive waiver, many of those flourished in the military and are doing great things.”
He added: “All gay and lesbian service members want to be able to serve. Instead, people are getting kicked out of the military. People who don’t need any moral waiver, people who don’t need standards lowered for them in order to serve. People who are patriotic and courageous and who have vital, irreplaceable skills.”
When the bill was defeated, Franken offered this statement:
“The Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Secretary of Defense have both strongly said that the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy should be repealed. The troops that I have visited overseas overwhelmingly believe that as well. This foolish and unjust policy of discrimination must end. The country is ready for it, the military is ready for it, and it’s simply the right thing to do.”