November 18th, 2008
06:15 PM ET
9 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of his power to change the policy and forced him to accept the Don't Ask Don't Tell compromise - a law that can only be repealed by Congress.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.

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soundoff (266 Responses)
  1. Texas Female

    Why is it that the pedophiles, rapists, adulterers, liars, cheaters, and criminals think it’s OK to hide behind their “Christian morality” and judge gays who happen to be tax-paying Americans who simply want to serve their country? Get a grip and look in the mirror, people. If your S*#t stinks, you have no right to judge others. (And guess what? Yours stinks, too)

    November 18, 2008 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  2. Yet Obama says Gays Have no rights

    Obama did not oppose Prop 8 and he was not to be seen or heard from as gays marched last weekend for their rights.

    Evidently Obama only believes in rights for certain minorities like blacks.

    Are gays not people? Obama talks about tolerance but he's a woos and doesn't walk the talk.

    November 18, 2008 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  3. Travis

    Veteran.... surely you don't think that you DID NOT serve with any gays do you. If so then the ignorance of your generation and bigotry of the past is worst than I thought.

    Grow up, get real, leave politics and religion alone. Ask Anne Boelin, Henry VIII and the Anglican Church.

    READ.... study to show thyself approved...

    November 18, 2008 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  4. Sean

    Regardless of your religious or moral views this is a no-brainer. It's a danger to our security to keep a policy such as DADT. It strips us of talented and willing service-members and for those serving in the closet, creates a true security risk. We need every American to be able to serve their country and to do so with vigor and pride. The old arguments of misconduct and cohesion are bunk. Any straight or gay, or male or female service member should be held to the same conduct. No hanky-panky, professionalism, etc. This isn't condoning a life-style, it's making the right decision to protect our forces, and our country.

    November 18, 2008 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  5. someperson

    I don't care if gays serve in the armed forces however the only problem that could come from this is the fact that instead of fighting they would be all over the other service members who are trying to server there country and complete there missions.

    With that out of the way again I don't care if they serve, hell I don't care if they get married and become miserable like the rest of the world its there life let them live it the way they want to.

    November 18, 2008 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  6. Michael in NC

    They were dying over there, same as the hetero soldiers. Don't we owe them at least this much? Man, I hate haters.

    November 18, 2008 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  7. JG from MA

    Veteran - Its people like you who are the reason that there is even war in the world

    End discrimination, of every type, everywhere.

    November 18, 2008 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  8. Samantha

    The hateful comments here are really disgraceful. Bigots don't deserve to wear a uniform with the American flag on it.

    November 18, 2008 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  9. jm from sc

    President-elect Obama will do what ever is right. If he thinks gays should be able to serve in the military without restrictions, he will support that. He believes in the freedom America promised years ago for all. That does not mean that he agrees with that lifestyle, it only means that it is God's place to judge.

    November 18, 2008 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  10. Justin

    You already do Michael. How incredibly small of you to say that about someone who would take a bullet for you. I don't believe you are actually in the military.

    November 18, 2008 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  11. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    It makes one wonder how and why on God's earth people in this country enact laws like they are the higher being while they hold a Bible in one hand.

    November 18, 2008 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  12. Emit R Detsaw

    The USA is the only major country that doesn't allow gays to openly serve in the military. For the homophobic military folks, this has had them housed with gays for years. If they open up, and do away from the "don't ask, don't tell" then they can have 4 separate dorms. Male straight, male gay, female straight, and female gay. Housing is really the only issue. If a person desires to serve their country and wear the uniform proudly, I have no problem with that. PDA is still not allowed in uniform. ;o)

    November 18, 2008 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  13. Jim in San Jose

    This all goes to prove that the greatest oxymoron (heavy emphasis on the moron) in the English language is "Military Intelligence".

    The military, in its esteemed wisdom, got rid of six Arabic translators, RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF TWO WARS IN ARABIC THEATERS! Why, because they were gay. Never mind the millions of dollars and months and months of time to replace them. Never mind the fact that being gay has nothing to do with military readiness.

    Don't intelligent people exist in the military? I know Colin Powell was there once.

    November 18, 2008 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  14. DOCS 3




    November 18, 2008 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  15. Kel

    Well, if the argument about sexual tension holds, we shouldn't send mixed troops out into combat zone. Or what about straight people who have differences on their team? Soldiers put their team above all conflict. They live and die together, and watch each others' back.

    I quote President Reagan when he was shot at. In the operating room, Reagan joked to the surgeons, "I hope you're all Republicans!" Though they were not, Joseph Giordano replied, "Today, Mr. President, we're all Republicans."

    Serving is serving. Men and women can put their country above personal divisions. When you're sick and need urgent help, you wouldn't care if the doctor was gay, straight, or of a different skin color. You risk your life for the country gay or straight, so you shouldn't be discriminated against.

    November 18, 2008 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  16. Brent

    You say you won't serve with gays. Don't look now, but you probably already do. You just don't know it because they are not supposed to let you know.

    November 18, 2008 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  17. Graham

    Hey Veteran-I think the fact that some homosexuals join the army means that they wouldn't rather be cutting hair or designing clothes-they clearly would rather be serving their country

    November 18, 2008 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  18. Steve in Las Vegas,NV

    Let everyone serve our country without worrying if they want and can. Way too many qualified gay military personnel have been canned who's talents are very necessary.A lot of Arabic translators were kicked out comes to mind

    It's time to end discrimination against anyone for their sexual orientation. Or anything else for that matter

    A lot of gays have served with great honor (And died ) for our country. Sure some will be uncomfortable with gays, but they should know they are all in the same boat, with the same goals. We all are Americans!!

    November 18, 2008 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  19. Kay Jay

    Veteran–not all gay people want to design clothes or cut hair–what world do you live in?!

    November 18, 2008 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  20. military wife

    to the "veteran" trust me, if they would have rathered be cutting hair or designing clothes, they wouldn't have signed up for the military... there is no draft so all those in the military are there because they chose to be... so before you go showing off your ignorance, think back to when you were at war... whose to say that the ones protecting your back weren't homosexual? just because they were asked, doesn't mean they told the truth... GO OBAMA!!!

    November 18, 2008 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  21. df

    HEY IDIOTS – "Veteran" & "Michael Hsu" –

    You already serve with "THE GAYS"

    Your comment about "It won't work and the men and women of our military don't deserve, when put in a life or death situation, to have to rely on someone who would rather cut hair or design clothes to be their back in a wartime situation." IS SO DUMB AND FULL OF BIASED BIGOTRY IT'S HARD NOT TO LAUGH!!! You think gay people only design clothes and cut hair? NO STUPID – they do all the same jobs everyone else does......but you are too dumb to realize that they are all around you (maybe if you did – then you would realize that they are just like everybody else)

    This ban will be lifted in '09 – get over it.

    November 18, 2008 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  22. CM

    For the person who said "Hell no! We won't serve with gays!". Guess what? You already do. They probably sense you are an idiotic homophobe, so they don't come out to you.

    And for the prejudiced "Veteran", you must be a veteran of Vietnam or even before that to hold such frighteningly absurd stereotypes. Wake up! I read an interview with a young person CURRENTLY serving in the military who stated that most of the people of his generation don't have an issue with gays--it's the older folks who grew up thinking that all gays did was cut hair and design clothes that had the problem with it. Out with the old guard and in with progress!

    Honestly people, with so many male heterosexual soldiers killing fellow female soldiers after impregnaing them, the real concern about who's "got your back" should not be about gays.

    November 18, 2008 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  23. Heather Czerniak

    I doubt many gays and lesbians would rush to sign up to defend their country anyway. Why would you want to fight for a country that's been fighting against you all along?!

    November 18, 2008 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  24. Tom in Milwaukee

    It's about time. But I fear that there will be violence against gays in the military by some of the more jar-headed members. Some of the comments above by small minded people seem to reflect that.

    It's ironic that gay soldiers fighting for our freedom don't get to have much of that freedom. It's time to step into the 21st century people. Put your middle-ages thinking behind you and realize that a good human being is a good human being, regardless of color, sex, religion, or sexuality.

    And to "veteran," a good soldier is a good soldier, no matter who they sleep with. When the time comes, a gay soldier will be there for you and not thinking about how to style your hair.

    November 18, 2008 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  25. Afghanistan Vet

    As a Infantry veteran. I think this could work in many different jobs in the military. I just don't see how it would work when the infantry is concerned. Wether we admit it or not a vast majority of infantry soldiers are homophobic ( speaking from personal experience). It would be too much for the country boys to wrap their heads around. I'm not saying it is right , but it is how it is. The guys would be scared to shower with a openly gay soldier in basic, sleep in the same tent, and the list could go on and on. The hazing alone would be out of control.

    November 18, 2008 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
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