In an interview this afternoon, 1st District Rep. Tim Walz said he supports a compromise proposal to lift the ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military contingent on the completion of a U.S. Department of Defense review due Dec. 1.
Walz served in the Army National Guard for 24 years and said he has long supported getting rid of the 1993 "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law.
"I've always thought this was a bad policy. The idea of a young American citizen wanting to serve and being willing to lay down their life in defense of this country and not allowing them to serve over personal and private reasons made no sense to me whatsoever," Walz said.
Under a White House-backed compromise, the U.S. Department of Defense would determine how quickly to implement the repeal once the review is completed. It would also require certification from the president, defense secretary and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff that the new policy won't hurt the military's ability to fight. The U.S. House is expected to vote on the measure today.
The Mankato Democrat said he supports giving the military time to implement the repeal. He said the military requires reviews of any changes — including a six month review when switching from hats to berets.
On a personal level, he said while serving he dealt with a case of a soldier having to leave the military under the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law.
"We lost a very talented soldier," he said.
As a commander, Walz said sexual orientation did not matter to him.
"My biggest concern was that the soldier knew their job, could shoot their weapon and was physically fit and mentally ready to serve. It was never an issue of whether they were at in their personal lives. That is none of my business," he said.