November 18th, 2008
06:15 PM ET
10 years ago

The end of Don't Ask, Don't Tell?

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The lead sponsor of a bill to overturn the controversial Don't Ask, Don't Tell law said the law could conceivably be passed in the first year of President-elect Obama's administration.

President-elect Barack Obama has pledged to lift the ban on gays serving openly in the U.S. military.

A transition office spokesman refused to comment for this story but two months ago, Obama signaled he would move cautiously, telling the Philadelphia Gay News newspaper he would first get the military on board:

"Although I have consistently said I would repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell, I believe that the way to do it is to make sure that we are working through processes, getting the Joint Chiefs of Staff clear in terms of what our priorities are going to be," he said.

A bill to replace "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", with a policy of nondiscrimination, has 149 co-sponsors in the house, including California's Ellen Tauscher, a Democrat. Tauscher said with new administration, the timing is right to try and pass the bill.

"The key here is to get bills that pass the House and the Senate, that we can get to president-elect Obama to sign, and I think that we can do that, certainly the first year of the administration," Tauscher said in an interview with CNN.

Gay rights advocates say it's important for the new President to avoid the ham-fisted attempt President Clinton tried in 1993, when he naively promised to lift the ban by executive order.

That roiled the Pentagon brass - including then-Joint Chiefs Chairman Colin Powell - and provoked a fierce backlash from conservatives in Congress.

As a result Congress stripped President Clinton of his power to change the policy and forced him to accept the Don't Ask Don't Tell compromise - a law that can only be repealed by Congress.

But after 15 years and four wars, attitudes in the Pentagon - and among the public - have changed dramatically.

A Washington Post-ABC news poll this summer found 75 percent of Americans support allowing gays to serve openly, compared to only 45 percent back in 1993.

More than 100 retired U.S. military leaders - including the former head of the Naval Academy - have signed a statement calling for an end to the military's "don't ask-don't tell" policy, according to a California-based think tank that supports the movement.

Retired Admiral Charles Larson, the former Naval Academy superintendent, tops the list of 104 retired general and admirals who want the government to repeal the policy, the Palm Center at the University of California, Santa Barbara, announced Monday.

Filed under: Uncategorized
soundoff (266 Responses)
  1. maestro

    Don't let the gays defend their freedoms!! ...

    November 18, 2008 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  2. Brian from Fort Mill, SC

    Don't ask, don't tell?

    How about: Don't Care!!

    November 18, 2008 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  3. Beverly, NYC

    As a former Marine I would welcome to our ranks anyone who wants to serve their country by wearing the uniform. As long as they conform to the Uniform Fode of Military Justice, and defend the country against all enemies foreign and domestic, who cares about their lifestyle!! Discrimination no matter the target is wrong. If some of you knew the cheating and wife swapping that goes on among the heteros in the military you would not be so quick to judge.

    November 18, 2008 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  4. Amber

    1992 – Don't Ask Don't Tell.
    1994 – Contract with America.

    I voted 'No' on 8 and think that the Don't ASk Don't Tell policy amounts to Jim Crow for gays in the Army. But lets not give mouth-foaming right wingers any ammunition, please?

    November 18, 2008 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  5. Roger in L.A.

    So I guess its OK for gays and lesbians to fight and defend our freedoms while they are being denied their rights to legally married here in this country. Of course this way when they get killed in action, the government won't have to pay their partners back home any benefits, so we save uncle Sam some money that way too. The hypocrisy in this country never ceases to amaze me.

    November 18, 2008 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  6. PDX Gal

    This is long overdue. Equal protection either means something or it means nothing.

    November 18, 2008 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  7. Chris in Va.

    So it's O.K. for openly gay persons to serve in the government and military, but it's not O.K. for them to marry?!?!?!?!........hmmmm......

    November 18, 2008 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  8. Vince, Navy vet

    Supposed true story:
    A salty Navy Master Chief was retiring after 26 years service. At his retirement ceremony the captain of his ship congratulates him and asks why he chose now to retire, He answers in a voice load enough for the crew and guests to all hear: "Well sir, when I joined the Navy it was illegal to be a homosexual, now it's OK, and I'm getting out before it becomes mandatory."

    November 18, 2008 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  9. No Way!!

    So what's next? Military-funded sex changes? No wonder this country is the world's laughing stock. Our morals are being flushed right down the toilet.

    This is complete insanity. What is wrong with our nation? There's no problem with gays serving in our military, but stay in the closet for crying out loud!

    November 18, 2008 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  10. Catholic-mom-4-OBAMA

    Its a shame that there is still discrimination of all types. It is not safe to be different. Sad but true.

    November 18, 2008 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  11. Barbara in NC

    Oh darn – the Pope – that human in Italy that is worshipped by only God knows how many people – will condemn our President even more. How can we ever survive? GAG ME WITH A SPOON.

    I don't want government in my bedroom or living room or anywhere else. If men and women can serve together in the military, this should have never been put in place to start with. It's from the dark ages for and by the extreme evangelicals that are holier than thou to everyone except themselves.

    November 18, 2008 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  12. There IS hope for the future>>>

    Other countries have been serving together for a long time. Just because someone is gay, [it] does not make them want to have sex with every person they meet! Do straight people want to have sex with everyone of the opposite sex they meet!? (I guess some do.) Being gay is NOT a choice! I know because I am one and I never filled out a questionaire! I am a son, neighbor, hard worker and I respect people. Just being gay does not make you "bad" You have good and bad in ALL walks of life. Gay people have been around ever since God created US. I think the people who don't "like" gays either were/are:

    1.) Taught to.
    2.) Are ignorant
    3.) Just like spewing hate about people only to make THEMSELVES feel better...

    Don't even go to the bible for your "support". I live the life the Good Lord gave me and there are things in the bible that are no longer seen as abhorations. Men shave now, you don't marry your wifes' sister when she [your wife] dies, no more stoning, etc. If you want to state an opinion, get your FACTS straight. Some people do not even believe in the bible and that is their own choice. This is America! Land of the free. That's what makes us different from the rest of the world...

    November 18, 2008 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  13. Dee

    And how many military leaders DON'T want it repealed? How about both sides of the issue?!?!

    November 18, 2008 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  14. Greed is not good

    Leave it alone. The policy as is works fine.

    November 18, 2008 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  15. Nelda, MA

    I think the country has grown since "Don't Ask, Don't Tell". I think everyone knows that there are gays in the military and as long as they do there job, that should be it.

    If our warriors can fight Al Queda, they can live with gays because they've already been living with gays.

    I say the gays should just keep their private lives, private. Why rub salt in the wound.

    November 18, 2008 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  16. the conservative one

    I think Don't ask don't tell has helped the Armed forces stay concentred in their work instead of worrying about their camarades sexual orientation. This law is not not against anybody's sexual orientation but it's way for soldiers to keep their sexual life Private.

    November 18, 2008 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  17. Not a homophobe

    Allowing gays to serve in the military...really bad idea. This will not end discrimination, it will only make matters worse. If you think a heterosexual soldier will not feel uncomfortable showering with or sleeping in the same room as an openly gay soldier, think again.

    November 18, 2008 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  18. FreeNLovIt

    Is it doomsday already?

    November 18, 2008 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  19. 1/20/13

    That utterly makes me sick......wasnt it San Francisco that kicked out all the Marine recruiting stations. I feel bad for them when they get there first hazing

    November 18, 2008 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  20. Tyrone Brown

    As a Gulf War Veteran I think it is time for us to end this "backwards" policy and stop wasting precious time, energy and resources on keeping fellow Americans from serving our country.

    God Bless America!

    Tyrone Brown
    Seattle, WA

    November 18, 2008 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  21. J Sperber

    As long as people don't find a perverse satisfaction of flaunting their sexuality in the faces of others (whether they are homosexuals or heterosexuals), they should be able to join the military. The military has no room for exhibitionists, they are trying to fight wars.

    November 18, 2008 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  22. Susann Velazques

    Thank the family loves dirt the people loves the dirt am i love the dirt like me. I like the dirt .The big girl loves the dirt.The little girl love the dirt.The mom loves the dirt.

    November 18, 2008 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  23. Cathie

    Good. A gay person can quietely server but not marry or have the same rights as other families. They serve and are killed ans should never have to hide behind a stupid law.

    November 18, 2008 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  24. joe

    If they want to give their lives in service, God bless them. As the legendary Chris Rock says, "If they wanna fight, let 'em fight. 'Cause I ain't fighthing!"

    November 18, 2008 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  25. Tim in Wa.

    Queue the Christian Right in 3....2....1...

    November 18, 2008 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
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