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Politics

Senate Candidates Weigh In On 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Repeal

May 24, 2010 - 6:00pm

With President Barack Obama looking to repeal the Dont Ask, Dont Tell Defense Department policy prohibiting homosexuals from coming out of the closet during their military service, U.S. Senate candidates in Florida are weighing in on the issue.

Obama presided over a meeting between congressional leaders and Pentagon officials Monday to bring the sides together on an agreement, setting the stage for votes in the coming weeks to repeal the policy pending a Pentagon study on how the change would impact members of the armed services. Congress has asked for that study to be completed by Dec. 1.

Former House Speaker Marco Rubio, the overwhelming frontrunner to win the Republican nomination for the Senate seat, supports maintaining the current policy.

Marco supports the current policy and doesnt see any reason for it to change, said Rubio campaign spokesman Alex Burgos on Tuesday.

Independent Gov. Charlie Crist supported the current policy when he ran as a Republican. In February, Amanda Hennenberg, at the time Crists campaign spokeswoman, stated that the governor believed Dont Ask, Dont Tell should be kept in place. When contacted Tuesday, Crist staffers said they did not know where he stood on the issue. The staffers did not say that the governor had changed his position.

Democrats in the race are lining up behind Obama and applauding the president's attempt to repeal the policy.

U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, the leading Democratic candidate in the Senate race, is a firm supporter of the Obama administrations push to end Dont Ask, Dont Tell.

"For too long, the Pentagon's 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy has dishonored those who serve our country so nobly," said Meek. I ask all Floridians to stand with our brave servicemen and women and join me in the fight to repeal 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.' Those who protect our nation deserve nothing less.

Former Miami Mayor Maurice Ferre, who is also running in the Democratic primary, backed the presidents attempt to repeal the policy.

I support President Obama and think it is long overdue, said Ferre. He pointed to homosexuals serving in the British, Canadian and Israeli forces without any problems or fuss. It doesnt seem to affect their ability to get the job done.

Ferre said he approved of how the Obama administration was handling the matter by getting support from the Defense Department before implementing the repeal. The proper and only way this can be done is with the approval of the high command of the U.S. in the Pentagon.

This goes back as far as Greece, both in the cases of Athens and Sparta, added Ferre. They never had a problem with gays serving in the armed forces.

Staffers for Jeff Greene, a billionaire investor who is running in the Democratic primary, confirmed Tuesday that their candidate also backed Obamas efforts to repeal Dont Ask, Dont Tell.

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com or at (850) 727-0859

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