Tauscher to tackle “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell?”

tauscher3.jpgRep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo, has scheduled a news conference for Wednesday to make “a major announcement… about her new role in the Congressional campaign to repeal the military’s ban on lesbian, gay and bisexual service personnel,” according to a press release.

Tauscher has long been opposed to the policy, co-sponsoring bills to repeal it and using her seat on the House Armed Services Committee to call for hearings on it, particularly in light of military forces already stretched thin by the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Now, with Democrats in the majority, Tauscher and like-minded allies might see their chance.

H.R. 1246, the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, which would repeal the policy, is pending in the House with 125 co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle, including all of the Bay Area delegation except for Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco.

But that bill’s sponsor, Marty Meehan, D-Mass., will leaving Congress next month to become Chancellor of the University of Massachusetts, Lowell… perhaps this week’s announcement has something to do with that?

Tauscher will be joined at Wednesday’s news conference by Sharra Greer, director of law and policy for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, and Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign. They’ll surely note that more than 11,000 service personnel have been dismissed under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” since 1993, and the Government Accountability Office has found that nearly 800 of them had “mission-critical” skills, including more than 300 language experts. The armed forces fire at least two people per day for being lesbian, gay or bisexual.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.