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Conservatives blame Shalikashvili's stroke for his support of Don't Ask, Don't Tell repeal

by Michael Rogers

Agape Press, the news service of the American Family Association, has reported on the response of the conservative military watchdog group, the Center for Military Readiness, to a New York Times op-ed in which retired Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General John Shalikashvili called for the repeal of the law which led to the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. The policy forces lesbians and gays to remain in the closet should they wish to join or remain in the armed forces.

Conceding that the General's stance would assist efforts to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Agape reported that Donnelly said Shalikashvili is "struggling" to keep his health. "She says it is 'really sad' to see someone like the General being used by the homosexual propaganda machine as 'the latest tool of a public relations campaign,'" reported Agape.

Steve Ralls, a spokesman for the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network told PageOneQ that, "Even for Ms. Donnelly, her newest line of attack is an all-time low. To even insinuate that a four-star General is unable to reach his own conclusions about this issue is outrageous."

Contacted by PageOneQ, Donnelly said she "wished the General well in his continuing recovery." When questioned further as to whether she had knowledge that the General had not recovered, Donnelly replied, "Yes, I do not think he -- wait, that is all I am going to say, I wish him well in his recovery."

"How can Ms. Donnelly claim to have any respect for our men and women in uniform when she treats military leaders with such distasteful disregard?" asked SLDN's Ralls. "Left without a single fact to support her bigoted views, she has stooped to a new low to divert the public's attention from the truly courageous stand General Shalikashvili has taken. Shame on her," he continued.

Donnelly told PageOneQ, and Agape reported, that Shalikashvili suffered a stroke within "the past year or so." In fact, his stroke took place in August of 2004, two and one half years ago.

When asked if Congress should revisit the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, Donnelly was emphatic in her opposition. "Absolutely not," she said. "This issue was thoroughly covered in 1993 and there is no need to revisit it as there is no new information. It's settled law," she added.

Donnelly maintains that it is President Clinton's interpretation of the 1993 law that led to the current policy. The Center for Military Readiness supports, she said, the return of the questioning of recruits about their sexual orientation. "Under current law, President Bush could reverse Don't Ask, Don't Tell to prohibit all homosexuals from the military," Donnelley said.

Donnelly used the results of a 2004 Air Force Times poll to claim that "a vast majority of the military" opposes openly gay service members. The poll, explained SLDN's Ralls, was not of military members, but of subscribers to Air Force Times, which includes retirees from the military and only those who have chosen to pay for a subscription.

A Zogby poll released last month and reported on by PageOneQ asked veterans from the current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq their views on restrictions against out lesbians and gays in the military. In that poll seventy-three percent of respondents supported the right of openly gay and lesbian Americans to serve in uniform.


Originally published on Friday January 5, 2007.

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