Today, the Senate Armed Services Committee met to discuss a myriad of military issues, mostly pertaining to the budget. But the last hour of the four-hour session dealt specifically on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, a Clinton era policy and law. The hearing room was packed, and quite star-studded. Lt. Daniel Choi was there, as was MSNBC prime time queen Rachel Maddow.
The political gay left and right were also among those present. I saw members of Stonewall Democrats, GOPROUD, and a few other Log Cabin Republicans other than myself.
In testimony today Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the military is seeking a repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy on military service by openly gay personnel.
Gates said that he fully supported the President’s decision, and Mullen took the additional step in say that he personally was in support of lifting the ban.
Gates went on to say that should the law be changed, the military needed to review the issues associated with properly implementing a repeal of DADT.
I don’t think a full repeal is something that can happen over night. But it is also that something that shouldn’t take four or five years to implement, as it did with racial integration. I applaud the Secretary’s desire to get it right the first time around. In answering a question of why it would take a working group a year, Gates said that the group would mitigate and manage any negative impact that would come from any repeal. He said we must get this right and that there needs to be minimal disruption of the forces. He went on to say that the branches must proceed in a manner that examines all issues.
Admiral Mullen was more passionate. He said it was the right thing to do; that it came down to integrity. He went on to say in his prepared remarks that there are people on both sides of the debate that speak as if there is no debate.
I was really disappointed (but not surprised) by the comments and line of questions from the Republican senators.
Senator McCain said that he was disappointed in by Secretary Gate’s statement. George Senator Saxby Chambliss said that the ‘live and let live’ motto offered by Colorado Senator Mark Udall is exactly what DADT offers. Sadly, he is terribly mistaken.
Maine’s Senator Susan Collins asked if openly serving allied forces in Afghanistan and Iraq caused any trouble for morale or troop cohesion, to which both Gates and Mullen said that it had not. Furthermore, Adm. Mullen said that NATO allies have said there is no impact on military effectiveness on allowing gays to serve
Mullen expressed his personal view against the policy in the hearing. The policy is likely to remain in place, however, pending a review that is expected to take up to a year. While repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” will require a vote in Congress, Gates did say that enforcement of the current policy will be conducted “in a fairer manner.”
Click here to find the prepared statements for Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Admiral Micheal Mullen.