OKLAHOMA CITY – A bill to reinstate the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in the Oklahoma National Guard has been derailed by the Oklahoma House of Representatives leadership.
The proposal by state Rep. Mike Reynolds (R-Oklahoma City), would have backdated legal standards to be in the Guard to a time when gays and lesbians could not openly serve in the U.S. military.
The bill would have allowed officials to directly question Guard members about their sexual orientation, and potentially jeopardized nearly $295 million in federal funding for the state because of its conflict with how the military interprets and executes federal law at the national level.
On Monday, shortly before the bill was scheduled for a hearing in the House Veterans and Military Affairs Committee, Speaker Kris Steele (R-Shawnee) reassigned the bill to the Rules Committee, whose chairman Gary Banz (R-Midwest City), said he didn’t plan to hear it.
“Rep. Reynolds’ bill directly violated federal policies and risked the loss of $294 million in annual federal funding to the Oklahoma National Guard,” said Laura Belmonte, chairperson of The Equality Network.
“We are relieved that the brave men and women of the Oklahoma National Guard will not have their readiness compromised by the damage this legislation would have created,” she said.
In the 14 years that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was in effect, the U.S. government spent an estimated $400 million in administrative, training, and recruitment costs associated with replacing more than 13,000 service members expelled under the policy.
“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was formally repealed on Sept. 20, 2011.