St. Louis Public Radio News
7:57 pm
Tue February 9, 2010

Mo. Senate committee hears Don't Ask, Don't Tell resolutions

Jefferson City, Mo. – Two competing resolutions on Don't Ask, Don't Tell received hearings Tuesday in a Missouri Senate committee.

The national policy bars gays and lesbians from openly serving in the U.S. military.

Among those testifying in favor of Don't Ask, Don't Tell was Paul Curtman, a recently-retired Marine Corps sergeant. He testified that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly would disrupt combat readiness.

"I'm speaking from experience...I'm not a homosexual, but I did serve with a couple, and once we found out, it completely changed the entire unit cohesiveness of our entire platoon and our entire company, and we had to get a whole bunch of things kind of straight and locked down before we could even proceed with our mission," Curtman told the Senate Committee on Rules, Joint Rules, Resolutions and Ethics.

Beth Schissel was an Air Force officer who was discharged after revealing her sexual orientation. She testified that allowing gays and lesbians to openly serve won't damage morale or readiness.

"I have two step-kids who graduated from West Point, and their spouses graduated from West Point, and they have told me from their times in Iraq that they have served with openly gay service members and they really don't care...what they care about is that people can do their job," Schissel said.

The committee will vote on both resolutions at a later date. Each is non-binding and would be used to express the Missouri General Assembly's opinion on Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

The resolution supporting the current policy is sponsored by State Senator Bill Stouffer (R, Napton), and the one calling for allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly is sponsored by State Senator Jolie Justus (D, Kansas City).