Oklahoma Lawmakers React To Repeal Of 'Don't Ask Don't Tell' - News9.com - Oklahoma City, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports |

Oklahoma Lawmakers React To Repeal Of 'Don't Ask Don't Tell'

Posted: Updated:
The U.S. Senate joined the House and voted to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell, which will allow gays to openly serve in the military. The measure passed 65 to 31. The U.S. Senate joined the House and voted to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell, which will allow gays to openly serve in the military. The measure passed 65 to 31.
Many state lawmakers question the impact of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy on the military while others say it will unite troops. Rep. McAffrey who served in the Navy, said in his experience, you didn't worry about someone's sexual orientation. Many state lawmakers question the impact of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy on the military while others say it will unite troops. Rep. McAffrey who served in the Navy, said in his experience, you didn't worry about someone's sexual orientation.

Jon Jordan, News 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The U.S. Senate joined the House and voted to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell, which will allow gays to openly serve in the military. The measure passed 65 to 31, but neither Oklahoma senator voted in favor of it.

"We have a saying in Oklahoma that if it ain't broke, don't fix it. This isn't broke, it's working very well," said U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe.

U.S. Senator Tom Coburn released a statement saying "Today's vote puts political correctness ahead of national security. Repealing this policy will bring no benefit to our military and could undermine our all-volunteer force."

Many Oklahoma lawmakers question the repeal of the almost two decade old "don't ask, don't tell" policy and the impact it will have on the military while others say it will unite troops.

One of those skeptics is State Senator Steve Russell, a retired Army Lieutenant Colonel. He said in his military career he served along several men and woman who were gay, but most chose not to be open about it. He said in the units where people were openly gay it did cause a distraction.

"Once it became known it made a lot of people uncomfortable, whether they want to admit that or not, that's just the reality," said Senator Russell. "I shouldn't be parading my sexuality to my service no matter how I am oriented. It just doesn't have a place when it comes to fighting, when it comes to being efficient."

Russell said a Congress where most of its members have no military experience to speak of didn't consider the big picture when choosing to repeal "don't ask don't tell."

"You hear a lot of people say ‘What impact will it have?' But no one is saying ‘How does this make our military more capable, more efficient, and more beneficial?'" said Sen. Russell.

Senator Russell also worries repealing "don't ask don't tell" could be a danger to soldiers who now choose to serve openly. However, Representative Al McAffrey said it only aims to better unite the military.

"It is time that Congress has stepped up and did the right thing," said Rep. McAffrey.

McAffrey, an openly gay state representative retired Navy Corpsman, said one's personal background isn't what's important.

"I don't care if you are gay or straight, black or white, Jewish, whatever it maybe, your blood is the same, you are given this for your country," said McAffrey.

The retired Corpsman said in his experience the last concern on anyone's mind was whether your brother-in-arms was gay.

"If you're in the fox hole and bullets are coming over you, you are hoping that the person next to you is there to fight the battle right along with you, not what their sexual orientation is. That makes no difference," said Rep. McAffrey.

The bill is headed to President Barack Obama who's expected to sign it into law next week.

And hundreds celebrated repeal in Tulsa Saturday night. Oklahomans for Equality called it a great victory for the more than 65,000 gay and lesbian troops who are serving in the armed forces right now.

"It's about people who want to serve their country and just be who they are. That's really all it is. Just be honest about themselves and not be told to tell a lie, but serve their country and do it honestly and with integrity," said Vietnam veteran Kelly Kirby.

"It's a tough thing to work every day and worry about whether or not you're going to be fired and that's what this stops," said Kris Wilmes with Oklahoma for Equality.

Powered by Frankly
News 9
7401 N. Kelley Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK 73111
News9.com is proud to provide Oklahomans with timely and relevant news and information, sharing the stories, pictures and loves of Oklahomans across our great state.
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2018 KWTV. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.