(KCPW News) Democratic Congressman Jim Matheson is the only member of Utah’s Congressional delegation who will vote today to repeal the U.S. military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. The vote comes about six months before the Defense Department is expected to release its study on eliminating the policy, which allows gay and lesbian soldiers in the military, but requires them not to disclose their sexual orientation. However, Matheson says the vote will clear the way for the military to ultimately decide what to do.
“You know, this is a policy that is both federal law and Pentagon policy, and in some respects, by having the law as it is right now, it ties the Pentagon’s hands on this issue,” Matheson says. “If the Congress doesn’t repeal this law, the Pentagon study process could be compromised, because the Defense Department really won’t have the authority to implement its own recommendations.”
Military leaders came out earlier this year in favor of eliminating Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, but asked for a year to study what the possible effects would be.
Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz says the policy seems to be serving the military well, and this kind of change shouldn’t be implemented when the military is engaged in two wars. He says the vote is premature, and thinks Matheson’s position is:
“Hogwash. It’s just election-year politics. It’s just electioneering,” Chaffetz says. “He’s just trying to appease himself so a certain portion of the population, rather than doing what we originally agreed to, which is allow the military to come to the determination so we as members of Congress can be in full position of the facts when we debate and ultimately vote on it.”
Congressman Rob Bishop is also expected to vote against repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. The Senate has yet to vote on the issue, but Senators Orrin Hatch and Bob Bennett have both said they will not support the repeal.