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Iraq vet responds to GOP debate and DADT

Out former Marine Officer Antonio Agnone, who served in Iraq, didn’t like what he saw when he tuned into the GOP debate last night and watched presidential candidates like Mitt Romney call the possible lifting of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell as a negative “social experiment,” and Rudy Giuliani declaring that it was more important to keep DADT in place during a Global War On Terror than to retain Arabic and Farsi translators because they aren’t in the closet.

Here is a video  (via HRC; transcript is below the fold):

Last night, the Republican candidates for president gathered together for a debate televised live to the world over CNN. They were asked on simple question — raise your hand if you support repealing the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. Not a single hand went in the air.

A little over a year ago, I finished my tour of duty in Iraq where I led a platoon of men to seek out and destroy IEDs — the weapon responsible for most of the casualties of American troops. In April, I chose to end my military service because of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

To Republican candidates “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” clearly means an opportunity to score a few political points with an anti-gay base. To me, it meant the end of a career and a family legacy of service. To our country, it meant one less person on the battlefield doing his part to return America’s sons and daughters home safely.

Over 60,000 gay and lesbian Americans are currently serving on active duty around the world. It makes me think about the Arabic-speaking gay soldier on the streets of Baghdad. What  must he think when he hears a candidate running to be commander in chief calls his life a “disruptive issue.”

On Tuesday, June 12, in Iowa, I’ll join with other veterans to kick off the Human Rights Campaign’s national tour to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” The tour starts in the battleground state of Iowa — at the epicenter of presidential politics. Because last night those candidates did more than just not raise their hand. They dishonored my service and the sacrifice of my brothers and sisters. And we’ll never forget.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding

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