n response to the filing of HB 2195, by Rep. Mike Reynolds, which would seek to reinstate the recently repealed, discriminatory policy of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Ryan Kiesel, Executive Director of the ACLU of Oklahoma, released the following statement:
January 10, 2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact:  Ryan Kiesel, Executive Director, 405.525.3831, rkiesel@acluok.org

Today, the ACLU of Oklahoma is calling on the Speaker of the House to send a clear signal that HB 2195 is dead on arrival and that the House will not waste a single minute considering the politically motivated act of a single legislator, and instead, will stand with the brave men and women of the Oklahoma National Guard, regardless of their sexual orientation.

In addition to potentially jeopardizing federal funding, this legislation distracts our legislature from efforts that truly support our troops by ensuring that when they return from service they will find a strong economy, educational opportunities, and affordable health care awaiting them.

A similar measure was proposed in Virgina last session. That bill died in subcommittee after the Attorney General, a socially conservative Republican, noted that, if it passed, the federal government could and probably would withhold federal funding for the VA Guard. Other policy makers highlighted that Guard troops often serve overseas alongside Guard members from other states and Army/Air Force members, and it would be way too complicated to enforce different rules within the force.

On the home front, Oklahomans know all too well that immediately following natural disasters the soldiers of the Oklahoma National Guard are on the scene, making up a critical component of the response effort. These men and women put their own safety, and often their lives, on the line to protect the lives and property of their fellow Oklahomans.

Rep. Mike Reynolds’ bill would stand at the perimeter of a natural disaster and turn away those gay and lesbian soldiers who refuse to live a lie.  Can Rep. Reynolds honestly say that sexual orientation in any way affects a soldier’s ability to free a family trapped in a storm shelter or to fly a helicopter into a raging wildfire to drop water and flame retardant?

It’s often during these most trying times for our state that the very best of what it means to be an Oklahoman shines. For Rep.Reynolds to offer this prejudicial legislation that would refuse the service of honorable soldiers, stands in stark contrast to Oklahoma’s commitment to military service at home and abroad.

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