by Max Brantley
There's a reminder just about every day of the loss facing the 2nd District when U.S. Rep. Vic Snyder moves on. I called him today about the new proposal for congressional repeal of the don't-ask-don't-tell rule on gay service in the military. He's a co-sponsor of the legislation, so naturally he'll vote for it.
But he also offers a cogent explanation of why it makes sense to repeal the law now. It hamstrings the military in sometimes untenable situations. Just one is the court precedent in one judicial circuit that says the Constitution prohibits dismissal of a service member simply on account of sexual orientation. There must be a rational reason for the dismissal. The practice is simply unfair and, in the 9th Circuit, unconstitutional. Snyder says the issue is no longer about repealing the ban on gay service, but on implementing the change. He says it can't be done piecemeal. He's content to let the Pentagon devise that plan. But he says it can't do so until the rule is repealed.
Snyder declines to delve into the politics of the issue. Unfortunately, politics always precede -- and sometimes preclude -- justice in these United States. Republicans are prepared to fight to the last bigot, despite polls showing 75 percent support for repeal of the ban, despite loss of 13,000 to 14,000 patriotic service members since the ban was put in place.
And what of the rest of Arkansas's finest? I put the question this morning to the offices of U.S. Reps. John Boozman, Marion Berry and Mike Ross and Sens. Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor.
Response so far: Crickets.
It is a safe bet the delegation won't unanimously follow Snyder's worthy example. Will any?