African American pastors warn against repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'

Non-denominational Bishop Harry Jackson
Non-denominational Bishop Harry Jackson

.- Family Research Council (FRC) president Tony Perkins and several African American religious leaders held a press conference on Monday to urge the Senate to vote against a move that would repeal the current “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” policy banning openly homosexual persons from serving in the military.

The Senate is slated to vote later this afternoon on whether or not to repeal the 1993 policy allowing homosexuals to serve only if they do not reveal their sexual orientation as part of the overarching Defense Authorization Bill of 2011. The Senate Armed Services Committee and the full U.S. House approved measures to change the law in May. 

In a press conference at FRC facilities in Washington D.C on Sept. 20, Perkins, accompanied by the church leaders, expressed concern over the implications for religious liberty and military readiness, should homosexuals be allowed to serve openly in the military.

Leaders at yesterday's conference included non-denominational pastor Rev. Harry Jackson of Great Hope Church in Washington, D.C., Pastor Aubrey Shines of Tampa, Pastor Christopher Brooks of Detroit, non-denominational Bishop Leon Benjamin, Rev. Dean Nelson of Virginia, Rev. Lou Engle and Austin Nimocks who is Senior Counsel of the Alliance Defense Fund.

“Today, I joined my friend Bishop Harry Jackson and a group of predominantly African-American pastors who met to declare their support for retaining the current law against homosexuality in the armed forces,” said Tony Perkins on Sept. 20. “A crucial vote on the effort by liberal activists to overturn the law will take place in the Senate tomorrow.”

“The group gathered here is very concerned about the fate of the military and what if means to everyday people in the nation,” added Rev. Harry Jackson. “As our country wrestles to come out of deep recession,” he noted,  and as “our military continues in a state of war abroad, this Congress in considering what we think is the most radical form of social experiment.”

“The defense authorization bill should about military readiness and it should be about a strong national defense, but unfortunately the Senate is set to consider the repeal of the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy in spite of concerns raised by all of the service chiefs to the contrary.”

This, he underscored, is “very arrogant.”

“Repealing 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' will destroy the necessary readiness and cohesion of our service men and women to perform their duties successfully,” he said. “There is no constitutional right to serve in the military if one's conduct is not conducive to military readiness.”

“Let me be frank,” he continued. “Introducing sexual tension and conduct into our barracks will be a distraction from the very business of the military and that is protecting us from our enemies,” the pastor said, adding that it “will also create new pressures on those with sincerely held religious beliefs in opposition to homosexual conduct.”

Rev. Jackson then commented on charges that “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” is discriminatory against gays in the military, saying he does not think it's “comparable to the historic discrimination suffered by African Americans.”

“Policies dealing with active homosexuals in the military are based on conduct, where historic discrimination against African Americans was essentially based solely on external characteristics of skin color, immutable unchangeable things.”

“Make no mistake that this policy is not about some purported discrimination of homosexuals in the military,” he asserted.

FRC leader Tony Perkins then called on the Senate to seriously consider the effects that a repeal could have, saying that the group “is urging a vote against the 'motion to proceed' on the defense authorization bill which would repeal the current law.”

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