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N.C. Official: Richard Burr's 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Vote Sanctions 'Sexual Predators'

4 years ago
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One of the surprises of the Senate's repeal of "Don't ask, don't tell," the policy banning gays from serving openly in the military, was the vote of Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina. The reliably conservative Burr was one of eight Republicans who supported repeal.

In a statement after the Dec. 18 vote, Burr made clear his doubts about the timing of the change because "making such a shift in policy at a time when we have troops deployed in active combat areas does not take into consideration the seriousness of the situation on the ground." He nevertheless concluded that "given the generational transition that has taken place in our nation, I feel that this policy is outdated and repeal is inevitable." It was, the statement said, "the right thing to do."

What is not surprising is the reaction of some members of his party in his home state, particularly Mecklenburg County Commissioner Bill James. After commission chair Jennifer Roberts, a Democrat, this week suggested sending a letter from the commission thanking Burr and other local members of Congress for backing repeal, James expressed his disapproval in an e-mail that said, "Homosexuals are sexual predators."

In a column Wednesday, my Politics Daily colleague Matt Lewis asked, "Will 'Gay' Issue Create a Conservative Schism?" -- and the answer may be yes. James said he will no longer support Burr and said he suspects the senator will pay a price for the DADT vote in his next election. (Burr, who was easily re-elected in his November race against Secretary of State Elaine Marshall, won't face voters again until 2016.)

James' Monday e-mail to Roberts (he posted a link on his Facebook page) said in part: "Allowing homosexuals to serve in the US military with the endorsement of the Mecklenburg County Commission ignores a host of serious problems related to maintaining US military readiness and effectiveness, not the least of which is the current Democrat plan to allow homosexuals (male and female) to share showers with those they are attracted to."

Though other county commissioners said that sending a letter on behalf of the entire board was not appropriate, James' language -- especially in the context of his past statements -- has been strongly criticized. (Republicans Karen Bentley and Jim Pendergraph also said they disagreed with the repeal; Democrat Harold Cogdell said commissioners could send personal notes but should not speak on behalf of the board.)

One year ago, when the board voted to approve domestic-partner benefits for county workers and an emotional Commissioner Vilma Leake, a Democrat, mentioned her son and his 1993 death from AIDS, James asked: "Your son was a homo, really?"
GLAAD (the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) has posted a petition urging the commission to censure James. "It's inexcusable to call your colleague's deceased son an anti-gay slur," says a statement on the group's website. "It's even more inexcusable to willfully spread misinformation about the lives of all LGBT people and claim that open military service will do anything but strengthen our national security by allowing all of the best and brightest to serve, regardless of who they are."
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10 Comments

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Juli

What gets me is; *heterosexual* assault (men raping women) is rampant in the military, and the GOP couldn't care less! Why is it when an American soldier rapes female soldiers or even a 12 year old girl, it's just swept under the rug?

January 17 2011 at 8:17 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
bayguy13

I'm wonder what Commissioner James reaction would have been to Harry Truman's desegregation of the armed services or if he even served.

January 01 2011 at 4:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mark Billingsley

What is it with homophobes and showers? My God, do they think that all gay sexual encounters take place in the showers? I think it's just their own sexual fantasies projected onto the debate. Gay military personnel realize that the code of conduct exists everywhere on base - including the showers. Grow up and evolve homophobes. Sheesh. BTW trolls, I'm heterosexual.

January 01 2011 at 12:26 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
somesouthernval

fear and greed drive so much information. greed i find hard to stop but fear is curable.

January 01 2011 at 9:21 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
AL

I can see it now, 4 shower stalls labeled: Gay male: Heterosexual male: Heterosexual female:and Gay female.

December 30 2010 at 9:34 PM Report abuse -9 rate up rate down Reply
tistolaugh

But the very vast number of sexual prdators are heterosexual so by Commissioner Bill James' own statement, it would make more sense to ban heterosexuals from serving. His statement is so completely clueless it's funny.

December 30 2010 at 4:26 PM Report abuse -6 rate up rate down Reply
Tom

I do not think that most truly understand what the meaning of the law is. Gays have never been denied the opportunity to serve in the military as long as they did not openly disclose their preferences. The law now allows them not only to "come out of the closet" so to speak, but to flaunt it. That is what upsets me.

December 30 2010 at 1:26 PM Report abuse -9 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Tom's comment
christierandall

you are wrong...if a gay was found out they were kicked out...look it up.

December 30 2010 at 9:25 PM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply
thetokensquare

Oh, by flaunt it you must mean putting up a picture of their significant other or kissing someone of the same gender when they disembark from a long deployment! Or do you mean simply expressing attraction to someone of the same gender? Wait, I'm confused ... what exactly do you mean by coming out of the closet so to speak, and flaunting it? I also am unclear, are you asserting gay individuals could privately disclose their preferences and still be allowed to enlist? If so, I'll need to have you explain the difference between disclosing orientation publicly vs privately. Thanks!

January 01 2011 at 6:13 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
tplapper

I wonder what Bill James thinks of the gay sex scandals among Evangelical leaders? Also, I would like to know Bill James military background? A righteous Conservative like him served right? A straight vet.

December 30 2010 at 12:42 PM Report abuse +10 rate up rate down Reply
matissenet

Commissioner James should seek counseling - It is not appropriate for a public official to allow their personal fears and prejudices to direct their public actions. It harms civil society and degrades the honor of a democratic republic.

December 30 2010 at 12:38 PM Report abuse +9 rate up rate down Reply
David

Woefully ignorant comment. There are percentagewise (given that the gay population may only be 10% or less of the general population) far more predators among heterosexuals than among homosexuals. How about worrying about having heterosexual predators interacting with familes or females on miltary bases or in administrative posts in the military?

December 30 2010 at 11:08 AM Report abuse +10 rate up rate down Reply

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