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Local News

September 11, 2010

Most locals favor gay military ruling

The local reaction to a federal judge declaring "don't ask don't tell" unconstitutional was largely positive.

U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips ruled Thursday that the prohibition on openly gay service members was unconstitutional because it violates the First and Fifth Amendment rights of gays and lesbians.

James Koury is Oneonta city clerk and editor of Diversity Rules magazine, which serves members of the community most affected by the ruling.

"For far too long America's LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) servicemen and women have been forced to hide their sexuality due to this discriminatory policy promulgated by our federal government," he said.

He said he was hopeful that the U.S. Senate would follow suit with the House of Representatives and repeal "don't ask, don't tell."

The decision combined with other recent rulings signals a new chapter in finally granting LGBT Americans the full equality guaranteed under the constitution.

Wells Bridge Baptist Church Rev. David Steensma disagrees with the judge's decision.

"I agree with 'don't ask don't tell.' I don't believe anyone should flaunt their sexuality," he said.

"In the Bible it's a sin to commit homosexual acts and that should be the law of the land," he said.

But the decision didn't surprise him, he said, because the federal courts are moving in that direction.

While homosexuals should not be denied their civil rights, their agenda is being pushed through the federal courts and he is opposed to that, he said.

The current policy concerning gays in the military "doesn't make any sense," said Oneonta American Legion Commander Ben Eldred in sharing his personal response to the issue.

As long as they are not pushing their beliefs, "it should be live and let live," he said.

Oneonta Alderman and veteran Paul Robinson said, "I think it's a good thing. In this day and age, gays and lesbians should have every right that straight people have. I think it's a live and let live situation."

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