It comes as no surprise to Oklahomans that U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, who has a history of making hateful, anti-gay remarks, is taking a lead role in trying to stop the repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.
After all, through the years Inhofe, U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn and state Rep. Sally Kern, among others, have made Oklahoma seem like the most intolerant state in the country when it comes to equal rights.
In a recent floor speech, Inhofe, who is a member of the Armed Services Committee, argued the Senate should delay voting on the repeal, which could allow gay people to openly serve in the military, until the Department of Defense completes a study of the issue. The report may not get finished until Dec. 1. The House has already passed the repeal measure. The repeal amendment would be included in the Department of Defense Authorization bill.
Ostensibly, Inhofe wants a full discussion about the issue after the study is completed, but he could also simply want to delay the vote, hoping the midterm elections will bring enough anti-gay rights politicians back into the Senate to stop the repeal. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said he will bring the measure to a vote, but it’s still uncertain when he will do so. Reid is in a tough campaign fight for his Nevada Senate seat.
If there’s any doubt about his position on “don’t ask, don’t tell,” here’s some of what Inhofe said recently about the repeal, according to a Jason Linkins’ post on Huffington Post:
For those of us — and I’m one of them — who have gone through the military, gone through basic training, and you stop and think — it just doesn’t make any sense. Second of all, it’s just not working. You have women, men, then you have a third group to deal with, and they’re not equipped to do that.
And you know — you hear the stories all the time. A military guy — I happen to be Army, and Army and Marines always feel that when we’re out there, we’re not doing it for the flag or the country; we’re doing it for the guy in the next foxhole. And that would dramatically change that.
Inhofe unleashed these bigoted comments in a recent interview with the American Family Association. Does Inhofe or anyone really think an American soldier wouldn’t fight or do their duties because “the guy in the next foxhole” is a gay, as Linkins noted? What about the “third group” language? So we have women, men and “the third group.” This is a highly offensive statement.
Inhofe, as you recall, said this in 2006 about the Federal Marriage Amendment:
…As you see here, and I think this is maybe the most important prop we’ll have during the entire debate, my wife and I have been married 47 years. We have 20 kids and grandkids. I’m really proud to say that in the recorded history of our family, we’ve never had a divorce or any kind of homosexual relationship.
Inhofe’s remarks are part of a pattern among some state leaders. In his 2004 campaign, Coburn warned against “lesbian debauchery” in southeast Oklahoma schools. Kern once said gay people were a greater threat than terrorism to the country.
Inhofe is on the wrong side of history and remains dead wrong about almost everything, including the changing cultural attitudes in this country. This much is certain: Eventually, gay people will be allowed to serve openly in the military, and Inhofe’s demeaning rants will seem even more archaic and offensive.