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Defining moments

"Defining moments" Continued...

Issue: "Geo-gizmos," April 25, 2009

Already, there is a move afoot to repeal Section 654, Title 10, U.S.C., a 1993 statute stating that homosexuals are not eligible to serve in the military. Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Calif., and 137 Democratic co-sponsors on March 3 introduced H.R. 1283, a measure that would "enhance the readiness of the Armed Forces by replacing the current policy concerning homosexuality in the Armed Forces . . . with a policy of nondiscrimination on the basis of sexual orientation."

On March 31, more than 1,000 retired general and flag officers presented a letter to Congress, the Pentagon, and the White House stating their support for the 1993 law. Signatories included 47 four-star officers from all branches of the service. Among them are a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, several service chiefs, numerous combatant and allied forces commanders, and a Medal of Honor recipient.

"There's already been speculation that if the 1993 law is repealed, the only thing that would really prevent the recognition of same-sex couples in the military would be the federal DOMA [Defense of Marriage Act] law, and there would even be pressure to try to get around that," Donnelly said.

Just as a critical mass of jurisdictions with legal gay marriage could create pressure on the military, a Pentagon policy change could sweep away remaining resistance to gay marriage in the states, Donnelly said: "I would predict that if our military accommodated same-sex couples, it would put pressure on all institutions of civilian life. If it's OK for the Marine Corps, for example, why would it not be OK for every school district, every marriage bureau? The pressure would be very intense."

-with reporting by Emily Belz

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