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2005 blog


Jewish House members divide 11-14-1
on gays vs. military recruiter issue
,  Feb. 5, 2005

Jewish members of the House of Representatives divided 11-14 with one not voting on a question that pitted preserving the right of the military to send recruiters to college campuses and law schools against those who want to protest the Armed Services discrimination against openly gay or lesbian service personnel.

At issue was a resolution sponsored by Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Alabama) to express congressional support for withdrawing federal funds from universities and law schools that deny access to their campuses to military recruiters in protest of the military's policy towards homosexuals. 

A lower court had decided it was illegal to withdraw federal funds from universities that deny access to military recruiters. The resolution, which was adopted by the House of Representatives on Feb. 2 on a 327-84 vote, with 22 members not voting, expressed support for an appeal of that court decision.

During the debate U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) cited Israel's experiences with gay and lesbian soldiers to castigate the U.S. military' attitude toward his fellow gays and lesbians.

He said the reason why the U.S. military discriminates against gays and lesbians  is the belief that they somehow would be disruptive to morale. "We have experience to the contrary," said Frank. 

"I know there have been people critical of the Israeli Defense Forces in some respects. I think they deserve, on the whole, a lot of credit for a difficult job. In the Israeli Defense Forces, people serve who are openly gay and lesbian. So the argument that somehow allowing people who are honest about their sexuality, if they are gay or lesbian, to serve in the military makes you an ineffectual military, how do they explain the Israeli Defense Forces?"

The 11 Jewish House members who voted in favor of the resolution—that is, in favor of continued military access to the campuses—were Republican Eric Cantor of Virginia, and Democrats Shelley Berkley of Nevada; Ben Cardin of Maryland; Susan Davis, Jane Harman, Tom Lantos, Adam Schiff, and Brad Sherman of California; Steve Israel and Nita Lowey of New York; and Allyson Schwartz of Pennsylvania.

The 14 Jewish members who opposed the resolution included Independent Bernie Sanders of Vermont; and Democrats Frank of Massachussetts; Gary Ackerman, Eliot Engel, Jerrold Nadler and Anthony Weiner of New York; Howard Berman, Bob Filner, and Henry Waxman of California; Rahm Emanuel and Jan Schakowsky of Illinois; Sander Levin of Michigan; and Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Robert Wexler of Florida. Not voting was Democrat Steve Rothman of New Jersey.                    —
Donald H. Harrison