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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, December 24, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 52
Ban Gays from National Guard says VA legislator
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Ban Gays from National Guard says VA legislator

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

In the wake of the US Senate's historic vote to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell, a Virginia state legislator is seeking to bar Gays from the state's National Guard.

Republican state delegate Bob Marshall says he is drafting a bill for the 2011 legislative session to prohibit National Guard service by LGBT Virginians.

Described in the Washington Post as 'one of the [Virginia] House's most conservative members,' Marshall is reportedly interested in running for the US Senate against incumbent Democrat Jim Webb in 2012.

Webb - a former Marine Corps officer, decorated Vietnam veteran, and Secretary of the Navy under Ronald Reagan - was initially skeptical of DADT repeal, but voted for the final bill.

Marshall, on the other hand was sharply critical of repeal.

'This policy will weaken military recruitment and retention, and will increase pressure for a military draft,' he said.

'After 232 years of prohibiting active, open homosexuals from enlisting in our military, President Obama and a majority in Congress are conducting a social experiment with our troops and our national security...In countries where religions and cultures find homosexual acts immoral, the Obama administration's repeal policy will work to the detriment of all American troops in securing local cooperation with our nation's foreign policy goals.'

Many observers doubt whether the Virginia legislature has legal authority to set conditions for military service that, in effect, nullify federal law.

Claire Guthrie Gastanaga, general and legislative counsel for Equality Virginia, which advocates for LGBT rights, said the National Guard is subject to the same rules as other federal military units.



'Any state statute seeking to set different standards for the Virginia National Guard would be a nullity with no effect,' she said.

'It is a shame that Delegate Marshall would dishonor the brave men and women serving in our National Guard by seeking to make political points at their expense and waste the time of his colleagues in the Virginia General Assembly who have pressing matters to attend to like balancing the budget and finding solutions to the traffic problems that are the real and present concern of his constituents.' Marshall claims that Article 1, Section 8, Clause 16 of the US Constitution gives Virginia the authority to bar LGBT persons from serving, although the language of the article seems to contradict this claim.

The clause Marshall cites explicitly authorizes Congress to set the rules of military discipline even in the state militias, now known as the National Guard.

Congress is empowered 'To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress&' the Constitution says.

The federal Militia Act of 1903 reorganized separate state militias into the present National Guard system, under the administration of what was then called the War Department, now the Department of Defense.

With the passage of the 1916 National Defense Act approximately one half of the US Army's available combat forces and approximately one third of its support organizations were National Guard units.

The Air National Guard section of the US Air Force was established in 1947.

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