'Don't ask, don't tell' policy disqualifies gay married couples - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

'Don't ask, don't tell' policy disqualifies gay married couples


SIOUX CITY, Iowa, (KTIV) - Last month, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled the state's ban on gay marriage violated the constitutional rights of gay and lesbian couples.

Now, there are worries because that ruling doesn't apply to the military.

"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy was enacted in 1993 by President Bill Clinton in an attempt to allow all citizens, regardless of sexual orientation to serve in the military.

Since "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is a federal policy, it over-rides any ruling made in the individual states.

According to "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" no member of the military can be asked about their sexual orientation, nor should they talk about it.

"If they stay away from those two things, then the person can serve in the military as long as they want to and as long as the military wants them," said Lt. Col. Greg Hapgood, Iowa National Guard.

But there are specific actions that are considered "telling" they include: "engaging in a homosexual act" and "marrying or attempt to marry a person known to be of the same biological sex."

So if a homosexual member of the military gets married in any one of the now 5 states that have legalized gay marriage, they can be involuntarily removed from their service.

A policy that One Iowa, thinks puts service men and women in an impossible situtation.

"Iowans serving honorably in the military should not have to choose between the protections of marriage and their dedication to serving our country," said Justin Uebelhor, Director of Communications, One Iowa.

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says homosexuals are welcome in the military as long as they don't tell.

"If you are a homosexual and you want to be in the military and not bring this up as an issue, you're welcome to be in the military," said Grassley.

But, he says, the military is a voluntary organization, so if you don't like the rules, you don't have to join.

"So if you accept employment by the federal government in an agency where they say if your openly homosexual, we don't want you, than you shouldn't expect to be there," said Grassley.

Representatives with One Iowa say with more and more states legalizing gay marriage, now is the time to change the military's policy.

"I think now is the time for folks to really encourage the federal government to take action to repeal don't ask don't tell," said Uebelhor.

With regard to the Iowa National Guard, Lt. Colonel Greg Hapgood says, they will do what they are told.

"With respect to the Iowa National Guard, we are a federal military organization and we are required to follow federal law," said Hapgood.

Senator Grassley said he does expect the Obama Administration to try to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", but he says, he will not support that move.

The five states that have moved to legalize gay marriage are: Iowa, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont and as of Wednesday, Maine.

So, any married same sex couples face being removed from the military.

Online Reporter: Rebecca Sunshine RSunshine@ktiv.com

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