You’ll Never Guess Why Hawaii’s New GOP Rep. Supports DADT Repeal

Jim Burroway

June 2nd, 2010

Hawaii’s new Republican congressional representative Charles Djou was among the five House Republicans who voted to add the amendment paving the way for “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’s” repeal to the Defense Authorization Bill last week. Djou, who is also a captain in the Army Reserves, earned the Log Cabin Republicans’ endorsement partly because of his support for DADT’s repeal.

While we welcome Djou’s support for DADT repeal, his reason for supporting the repeal is more than puzzling:

Q: So why did you go against your party’s leadership on the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” question?

Djou: You know, on that particular issue, it comes from personal experience. I have served for nearly 10 years now as an officer in the United States Army Reserve. What concerned me about the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy is that it just simply doesn’t work. And I saw too many instances as an army reservist, soldiers would sign up for a re-enlistment bonus, get this gigantic sum from the American taxpayer, and then as soon as the unit gets called up to mobilize to Iraq or Afghanistan, they suddenly claim they are gay with no prior indication at all of that whatsoever. Get the discharge and keep the bonus. That’s wrong, that’s unfair and that’s why this policy should be changed, and I was very happy to cast that vote as I did last night.

Djou claims to support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. I wonder what kind of backhanded justification he has for that.

Pomo

June 2nd, 2010

Why is that “backhanded justification”? What is wrong with his reasoning? He voted the way you wanted, he went against his party, and he is concerned about people taking taxpayer money and then not completing what they signed up for. That sounds just fine to me. He has fiscally conservative reasons for voting for DADT repeal. Thats great.

But since he’s not casting the vote with your reasons in mind, its backhanded and puzzling…

Transplanted Lawyer

June 2nd, 2010

I’m with Pomo. An ally in a fight is in that fight for reasons of his own, and it’s important to understand what those reasons are for down the road — but that does not in any way change his status as an ally. Djou is an ally in this fight and he should be thanked for his support, not criticized for his lack of ideological purity.

Jim Burroway

June 2nd, 2010

Is anyone aware of a single case where someone absconded with taxpayer bonus money? I’m not, especially considering that people who are discharged under DADT are routinely billed for signing bonuses, expenses for training, etc. His vote for DADT’s repeal is admirable, but that doesn’t change the fact that his reason for doing so is a slur.

And face it, if Obama had slurred LGBT people in the same way in arguing for DADT’s repeal, everyone would be justifiably howling for his head.

Progress comes when the slurs end.

Michael

June 2nd, 2010

“they suddenly claim they are gay with no prior indication at all of that whatsoever”

That doesn’t sound like a slur against LGBT people – rather a slur against hypothetical individuals who play gay to get out of their contracts. I can’t say whether that ever actually happens, but if DADT facilitates such a waste of tax payers money, then that’s one more reason it should be repealed.

Timothy Kincaid

June 2nd, 2010

It sounds to me like Djou is objecting to folks claiming to be gay in order to avoid being mobilized.

Setting aside the bonus issue, I am pretty confident that there are some gay folk who suddenly found the urge to be honest when they found that they were going to be deployed. And this was probably even more likely in the reserves when they first were sent (prior to the latest conflict, most folks assumed that the reserves would never see combat).

I don’t find it at all unlikely that Djou experienced someone who came out to avoid being sent to Iraq, though he may be mistaken about keeping the signing bonus. And I’m sure we all oppose such abuses.

Secondly, it sounds a bit to me like he thinks that straight folk are using this as an excuse: “they suddenly claim they are gay with no prior indication at all of that whatsoever”. I’m not so convinced that happens with any frequency, but it is another possible abuse.

From my perspective, “Gay people shouldn’t be able to use that as an excuse to get out of fulfilling their duty” is not my first motivation for opposing DADT, but I don’t see it as a slur.

Priya Lynn

June 2nd, 2010

I wonder if he didn’t come up with this reason because he thought it’d be more acceptable to homophobes.

AJD

June 2nd, 2010

Pomo/Transplant: This “ally” also supports gay marriage bans and opposes civil unions. Let’s not pretend he’s our friend just because he’s willing to throw us a bone or two.

L. Junius Brutus

June 2nd, 2010

A bone or two is better than nothing at all.

AJD

June 2nd, 2010

True, but I still think we should be cautious about him…

Jason D

June 2nd, 2010

Timothy, I know of at least one straight person from college who got out of the service when he was tired of it by claiming he was gay. I’m not sure about the details beyond that, we’re not exactly pals for other reasons.

Burr

June 2nd, 2010

I don’t know if it’s a slur, but he really makes it sound like he doesn’t think there really are gays in the military or certainly doesn’t seem to be concerned at all about how they are treated. It’s a non-issue to him is what I pick up, and he’s positioned himself as someone with more “pragmatic” concerns while everyone else wrings their hands over the gays. I mean really.. that’s the ONLY reason?

And as Jim mentioned it’s kind of bunk since I doubt many get to keep that bonus.

Timothy Kincaid

June 2nd, 2010

Djou’s comments before his election don’t add too much clarity as to his reasons, but they do show that his vote was predictable

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: “I am actually to the left of Obama on this. I think this is another issue in which he has acted too slowly. He should have acted faster.”

Jimmy LaSalva met with him and says that “Congressman Djou also supports providing domestic-partner benefits to federal employees, supports domestic-partner tax equity, supports the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and opposes efforts to amend the U.S. Constitution with a discriminatory anti-gay-marriage provision.”

I hope we don’t make an enemy out of Congressman Djou without giving him more than two weeks in office.

Jose Soto

June 2nd, 2010

Tim, though you may not like what he said, the situation he explained is not only probable but unavoidable. DADT does not address conduct, but rather IDENTITY. So what would stop a soldier from claiming to be gay just so he can avoid combat and keep the money?

Steve

June 3rd, 2010

Long after DADT is gone, it will be fascinating to see the historical record revealed.

We’ve heard first-person accounts of expensive, invasive investigations of service members suspected of being gay, never mind their deeply closeted lives. In such cases, it’s sounded like cost was never an issue, no stone would be left unturned, in pursuit of evidence.

If it also turns out that the same investigations were seldom or never launched after people self-identified as gay, that will be a fascinating detail.

In all of the narratives I’ve seen related to DADT, none have focused on folks who were hetero-married. By Djou’s account, a long-married man could who was bisexual, and had an extended gay relationship in college, followed by decades of marital monogamy, would be bounced out with no questions asked. Is that really the case?

And, have sham marriages been an effective dodge for DADT investigations, or has the military pursued immigration-style investigations to validate marriages? Discharges have been disproportionately levied among women and people of color, as I recall, but is that related to married guys, after being exposed as having sex with guys on the side, being given a pass?

With 13,000 discharges, DADT must have outed at least a few people to unsuspecting spouses. Those stories could be understandably difficult and painful to tell… maybe they will be slow to emerge.

Lou Ruiz

June 3rd, 2010

Further proof that heterosexuals can and will abuse any system despite who ever rights they step on.

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