Dreamers and LGBT Deserve a ShoutOut on Memorial Day

John Kline’s Memorial Day OpEd has a great title … and a story of a recognition that was long overdue for one solder … but also a rather large omission to groups that also have served or want to serve.

Through service and sacrifice

By John Kline

Through service and sacrifice our veterans have long safeguarded the promise of liberty on which our country was founded.
One of my highlights in Congress is to meet with our service members and veterans, thank them for their service, and work alongside them to ensure they receive the recognition and the benefits they deserve.

Great words … but rather timely in light of what actions, or inactions, from Representative Kline.

For Dreamers, they watched as the House recently debated an amendment in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that encourages military service among DREAMers.
John Kline’s House Armed Services Committee had approved the amendment over John Kline’s wishes … so it came to a vote for the whole House.

Representative Mike Coffman (R-CO-06) spoke not as a Republican but as a Marine Corps combat veteran :

I’m here today to ask my esteemed colleagues to stand with me in declaring: Let our DREAMers serve.
Let the young men and women who were brought here as children, through no fault of their own, serve their country.
Let them serve the country that educated them.
Let them serve the country they love.
Their ability to serve benefits us all. It provides an expanded pool of willing and capable applicants, helping to uphold and even increase the rigorous standards to enlist in our military.
The army recently tripled its pool of immigrant applicants, and DREAMers should be a part of that pool.
To those who claim that this is amnesty, I have a simple message: As a Marine Corps combat veteran I can assure you Parris Island ain’t amnesty!
As my late father told me, serving your nation in uniform is the highest expression of citizenship.
From German immigrants serving in the Continental Army at Valley Forge to the over 100,000 people who have been naturalized through the military since 2002, immigrants have always been a part of our fighting forces.
If DREAMers want to put their life on the line for this country, we should give them the opportunity and honor their willingness to serve.

Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA-03) added her voice :

“I’m proud that in America, citizenship means something. It is worthy to be earned. Amnesty, to me, means giving it away, and I don’t support that. I do support the ability to earn citizenship, and if a person has the courage and conviction to take the oath and to join our nation’s warriors to defend you and I, what more can they do to prove their allegiance? The military is not a jobs program. And if someone through their merit and their hard work earns acceptance into that elite fighting force, where they could die defending you and me, then I leave you with this question: what country’s flag would you have draped on the casket of that brave soul?”

The military has an active program to attract “Legal Permanent Residents” … think registered aliens … but when it came down to a vote on the amendment, John Kline and a majority of Republicans said “Thanks for your service and sacrifice but we don’t want to encourage citizenship”.

John Kline’s vision of who should constitute membership in our armed forces has addressed gays in the military.
For years, John Kline voted against gays serving openly and for an amendment to the US Constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage. Further, John Kline had been one of the prime movers in getting amendments added to give military chaplains the “freedom to say no to same-sex marriages” and to deny the use of military facilities for same-sex marriages.

As the vote in Ireland proves, the times have changed.

Yet, it is John Kline who stays silent and stuck in the past.

Even as the House is considering a number of bills regarding how these evolving issues, such as these two in particular :

H.R.915, the Voices for Veterans Act, would expand the membership of the Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans to include veterans who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.

H.R.1598, the Veteran Spouses Equal Treatment Act, changes the definition of “spouse” to include married same-sex couples, and authorizes the Department of Veteran Affairs to recognize same-sex marriage even if the jurisdiction the VA operates in does not recognize same-sex marriage.

“This bill is about protecting the right of our nation’s veterans to share the benefits they have earned to the person they have lawfully married,” said Rep. Mike Coffman, one of the many Republican co-sponsors of the bill. “Veterans have enough to worry about in dealing with the VA. This bill removes one of those worries.”

Memorial Day is a prefect time to recognize our changing military … and issue THANKS to one and all.
It’s time for House Republican leadership to allow a vote on H.R.915 and H.R.1598 as it is obvious that some Republicans recognize that legislative action is needed “to ensure they receive the recognition and the benefits they deserve.”

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