8th Dist. candidate wants 'Don't Ask' policy tossed

  • Greg Jacobs

    Greg Jacobs

  • Joe Walsh

    Joe Walsh

  • Chris Geissler

    Chris Geissler

  • John Dawson

    John Dawson

  • Maria Rodriguez

    Maria Rodriguez

  • Dirk Beveridge

    Dirk Beveridge

Published: 1/19/2010 3:29 PM

The only veteran running for Congress in the suburban 8th District believes the policy banning openly gay men or women from serving in the military should be repealed.

"If you have the guts to put the uniform on, nobody should (mess) with you," said Republican candidate Greg Jacobs, who served in the U.S. Navy in Vietnam during the war there and later in the Army Reserve.

Jacobs, a retired Cook County sheriff's deputy from Mundelein, talked about the military's controversial "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy in an interview with the Daily Herald.

All six Republican candidates for the post were asked about the law, which was enacted by President Clinton in 1993 and prohibits gay or bisexual troops from disclosing their sexual orientation while serving. Those who do can be discharged, under the law.

During his campaign for the presidency, Barack Obama promised to repeal the law.

Jacobs and Chris Geissler were the only candidates who favored changing the policy.

Geissler, a manager with a consulting firm, said it's not a matter of gay rights but of soldiers' rights.

"Who am I to say someone is not capable of serving?" said Geissler, of Barrington.

In addition to Jacobs and Geissler, the GOP candidates are: Dirk Beveridge of Barrington; John Dawson of Barrington; Maria Rodriguez of Long Grove; and Joe Walsh of Winnetka.

Beveridge said homosexuality is incompatible with military service. Even so, Beveridge - a business owner who also founded an organization supporting active-duty troops and veterans - defended the ability of gays to serve in uniform as long as they do not disclose their sexual orientation.

"(The law) allows homosexuals to serve in the military honorably, and affords them protection from harassment and capricious discharge from the service," Beveridge said. "There is no compelling reason to repeal or revise 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.' President Obama is wrong, as are the others wishing to do so."

Rodriguez said she believes any American should be able to serve in the military but opposed repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

"Congress should be wary of adding mandates to the military except in those areas of overwhelming national consensus," said Rodriguez, the village president of Long Grove.

Walsh had a similar stance, saying gays should be allowed to serve only if they keep their sexual orientation private.

"Problems can ensue when soldiers are open and extroverted with their orientation," said Walsh, who works in private equity funding.

Dawson, a business owner and former suburban school board member, said the law isn't perfect but added that "no one has come up with a better alternative."

Geissler, a manager with a consulting firm, said the military - not lawmakers - should decide conduct-related issues among the ranks.

Jacobs, who was a photographer in the Navy and had a variety of responsibilities in the Army, said it wouldn't have bothered him if a member of his unit was gay.

"You do the job right, and that's all there is to it," he said.

The 8th District includes parts of Cook, Lake and McHenry counties. The primary election is Feb. 2.

Incumbent Democrat Melissa Bean of Barrington is seeking re-election. Jonathan Farnick of Woodstock is running as a Democratic write-in candidate. Green Party candidate Bill Scheurer of Lindenhurst also is running.