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The policy prohibiting patriotic Americans from serving in uniform based solely on sexual orientation is shameful and discriminatory.  I support the amendment to repeal ‘Don’t Ask--Don’t Tell’ currently before Congress and urge swift passage as a part of the Defense Appropriations Bill.  The men and women of our Armed Forces are one of our country’s greatest resources.  At a time when the policies of the previous Administration have stretched our military between two foreign wars, the exclusion of patriotic young Americans from uniformed service based on sexual orientation is indefensible.

As a former Army officer and leader of soldiers, my sole concern was military fitness and readiness.  The sexual orientation of a soldier, whether gay or straight, is irrelevant on the firing range, on a road march, or on the field of battle.  The ability to navigate the treacherous routes lined with IEDs in Iraq or Afghanistan is not dependent on whether a soldier is gay or straight; it is dependent on the military training and discipline found in those who volunteer to serve in our Armed Forces.  By excluding those who would volunteer based solely on sexual orientation, we are preventing able and willing soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines from guaranteeing our security, defending our country, and fighting and winning our nation’s wars.

My opponent says that "Rushing ahead with a political decision without understanding how it will impact the men and women of our Armed Forces ... is deeply irresponsible."  After 17 years of ‘Don’t Ask--Don’t Tell’ and countless debates over the policy’s merits, how is passage of this amendment considered ‘rushing ahead’?  Perhaps Mr. Boehner’s lack of understanding the impact on our troops is based on his own lack of personal experience in uniform.  I served with men and women who I later learned were gay or lesbian; their sexual orientation had no bearing on their outstanding service to our nation, and in no way changes my view of them as honorable and selfless veterans.  

Deployment of our Armed Forces without a clear path to victory before the first shot is ever fired is deeply irresponsible.  Buying weapons systems and equipment that the leaders in uniform have unequivocally proclaimed unnecessary, which is detrimental to the need for more ‘boots on the ground’, is deeply irresponsible.  Mr. Boehner’s implication that the pending repeal jeopardizes our national security is as usual incorrect and shortsighted.  

The Minority Leader says he hopes "Members of Congress who care about our national security ... will stand together to stop it."  I say, Members of Congress who care about our national security must act now, and vote to repeal ‘Don’t Ask--Don’t Tell’.  It is a vote that will strengthen our military, expand the ranks of those willing to serve, and ultimately result in an Armed Forces more representative of our great nation that its members serve and so bravely defend each and everyday.

Justin Coussoule is a West Point graduate. An attorney. A businessman. A father and devoted husband. He and his wife, Amanda, also a West Point graduate, each had extended careers in the United States Army. Coussoule is also the Congressional candidate in Ohio’s 8th District. However unlike his obstructionist opponent, Congressman John Boehner, Coussoule fully supports the immediate repeal of the "Don’t Ask-- Don’t Tell" policy which unfairly deals with gay members of the military.

Originally posted to Coussoule for Congress on Sat May 29, 2010 at 09:28 AM PDT.

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