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Kansans in Congress clinging to 'don't ask, don't tell'

At times it seems as if Defense Secretary Robert Gates is the only person from Kansas in Washington, D.C., willing to recognize that the "don't ask, don't tell" policy needs to go. When a repeal passed the House in May, Reps. Reps. Todd Tiahrt, R-Goddard, and Jerry Moran, R-Hays, took their party's line, with Tiahrt likening the repeal to "social experiments and political correctness" (though Sen.-elect Moran said last month he was undecided and "interested in knowing what those who lead our military — without political considerations — think is the correct answer"). Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., a fierce opponent of gay marriage, campaigned against a "don't ask, don't tell" repeal during his presidential bid in 2007 and restated that position this fall. When a repeal most recently came to the Senate in September, attached to a defense spending bill, both Brownback and Sen. Pat Roberts voted "no." As a congressman in 1993, Roberts favored the ban on homosexuals in the military that President Clinton sought to improve upon with the "don't ask, don't tell" policy's focus on conduct rather than sexuality. And Rep.-elect Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita, and Rep.-elect Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, both oppose lifting the policy. During the fall campaign, Pompeo claimed that "most of the folks in the U.S. military" think the policy "has worked reasonably well." Huelskamp said it "protects the unit cohesion and morale of our troops."