Speaking out

"Speaking out" Continued...

Issue: "Tilting at turbines," July 17, 2010

Wounding but not killing one soldier to lure others to re-enter the line of fire was a favorite tactic of enemy snipers. Hutchens joined four other soldiers in answering the wounded man's cries for help. Every one of the rescuers quickly fell with their own bullet wounds. One died.

Hutchens dragged himself back to the unit, which endured a day and night of repeated enemy charges before a helicopter rescue the following morning. More than 100 were left wounded but 44 didn't survive the ambush.

Hutchens said he learned something that day: the importance of chaplains in the military. "Men in situations like that are asking important questions. They are telling themselves, 'I can die out here.' They are ready to do spiritual business."

That is why, after less than two months of recovery, Hutchens went back out on another mission. "I hobbled along but I went."

He hopes evangelical chaplains will continue to be there.
To hear Edward Lee Pitts discuss this article on the "Knowing the Truth" radio program, click here.

Campaign for repeal

The White House and Congress have spent the year aggressively pursuing efforts to repeal the 17-year-old policy that has been upheld in federal courts five times:

Jan. 27: "This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are," President Obama said at his first State of the Union Address.

Feb. 2: "We have received our orders from the commander in chief and are moving out accordingly," said Defense Secretary Robert Gates, announcing a year-long Pentagon review (due Dec. 1) of how repeal would affect the military's readiness, cohesion, and effectiveness.

March 3: Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., introduces legislation, the first in nearly two decades, to overturn the ban.

March 25: Gates announces that the Pentagon would relax enforcement of the DADT rules, making it more difficult to discharge open homosexuals in the military, on the assumption that Congress will overturn the ban. The Pentagon won't follow anonymous complaints, requiring testimonies under oaths, while allowing only senior officers to begin discharge proceedings.

May 27: The House votes 234 to 194 to repeal the policy. Democratic leaders take the vote directly to the floor, bypassing the committee process, because Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Mo., the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, opposes repeal.

May 27: The Senate Armed Services Committee also votes, 16 to 12, to change the policy. Joining 11 Republi­cans, Virginia Sen. Jim Webb, a former Marine and secretary of the Navy, is the lone Democrat to vote against the repeal measure: "I believe we had a process in place and to pre-empt it in some ways showed a disrespect for the people in the military," Webb said.

June: A recently wed gay soldier applies for on-base married housing benefits with his male partner at Fort Drum, N.Y., prompting an investigation.

Edward Lee Pitts
Edward Lee Pitts

Lee teaches journalism at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa, and is the associate dean of the World Journalism Institute.


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