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his power to change the policy and forced him to accept the Don't Ask Don't Tell compromise - a law that can only be repealed by Congress.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

    As long as it's done right it'll work. However Being uncomfortable being naked in front of a homosexual is not bigotry anymore than feeling the same way about the opposite sex. Also will the same rules regarding sex apply precisely the same? Regarding adultery and deployments?

    November 18, 2008 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  2. Michael

    Veteran, you stated "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."

    In a wartime situation, don't you want the best people possible surrounding you? Does it matter what the sexual orientation, as long as your fellow troops are as committed and disciplined as they can be? From your comment, you wouldn't mind having a straight soldier watching your back, even if he would rather be playing football, or drinking a beer, and not focused on the task at hand.

    Your argument has way too many holes in it to be valid.

    November 18, 2008 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  3. Corey Farmer

    Dear "Veteran" who posted on November 18th, 2008 7:47 pm ET. You sir are the reason our country has been held back in the arena of social equality for decades. Prejudice is good for no one. Hate is good for no one. Do you think women in the military would rather be home in the kitchen raising the kids? I hope Don't Ask, Don't Tell is overturned and you are stationed with a homosexual person. Perhaps then you'll learn that they are just like heterosexual except in their sexual preferences. I have lived with one and been friends with a few, they are perfectly capable of doing anything any other human can do.

    November 18, 2008 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  4. Laughing At You

    So-called Veteran – Hussein is his middle name, is it too much to have to type 6 more letters in front of it? Remember that you tried using that name over and over again to influence the election, and you did – you helped him win! Thank you! Now keep on going with the stereotypes til you have made sure we win again! You are so useful to us now – your arguments only galvanize people to make sure your hatred and bigotry go away!

    Hsu – Hell yes you will serve with whatever person the military tells you to serve. If you don't, it is dereliction of duty, and if you do something to harm your fellow soldier that happens to be gay, then you too will go to prison with all the other 'enemies' you are sure to become 'intimately' acquainted with inside!

    November 18, 2008 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  5. James

    I'm sorry, but the comment made by "Veteran" just makes me want to vomit. How can he lump the entire gay community into people who "would rather cut hair or design clothes". I guess his eyes were wounded in battle, or he might have seen that there are gays doing every type of profession out there that is equally done by the straight people. It's about time the American people woke up and realized that sexual preference is one SMALL part of what makes up a complete gay person. Take some time and look at the person as a WHOLE rather than pick them apart piece by piece just because you don't like some of what you see.

    November 18, 2008 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  6. Jason

    It's about time.

    And while they're at it, they should impose a ban on heterosexual men and women serving in the military.

    The brave gay 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 be sitting on a La-z-Boy eating cheetos in front of a large screen TV, or some bimbo with too much make-up who'd rather be looking for a husband.

    November 18, 2008 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  7. Matt

    To be replaced by what? "Ask, Tell?" "Don't ask, Tell?" "Ask, Don't tell?"

    November 18, 2008 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  8. jerry

    Michael Hsu– you don't belong in the service- or have you forgotten, it's the United States Army, not Friends of Michael. This time, you and W are not the deciders.

    November 18, 2008 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  9. 23year Vet

    For anyone out there, that believe the military doesn't already have
    gays in its Ranks. I have a brige to nowhere to sell them. Gays have
    always been part of the Military as long as there has been a Military.
    Some the troops know whom they are, and some noone would
    imagine to be gay is gay. From lowest Rank to the Highest Rank.
    I've personnaly seened it all. So, yes it's time to get rid of the so call
    rule. It hasn't worked anyway. To the email Veteran: He/She don't
    have any ideal about the military from the statement made. Maybe,
    that haven't been in a combat situation. Believe me, out there you
    don't care what sex, color, sexual choice the person has, as long as
    they know their responsiblity, duties and mission.

    November 18, 2008 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  10. That One Guy

    "Opinions founded on prejudice are always sustained with the greatest of violence."
    - Francis Jeffrey

    we don't care if you accept us. we are not asking you to do that. and that's not what the end of DADT is about. we're citizens just like heterosexuals are and are capable of being as patriotic as you... that's what this is about; being able to exercise our rights as citizens to serve our country.

    it isn't about heterosexuality.
    it isn't about homosexuality.

    it's about allowing all citizens, regardless of who they are, to exercise every right they are given within our government.

    November 18, 2008 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  11. JP (Retired USAF and Desert Storm Veteran)

    Nothing against President-elect Obama (I voted for him), however I do not beleive it is best to allow individuals that are admittedly gay to serve openly in the military. Yet, I do believe it is time to eliminate the don't ask don't tell policy. How about this, maybe it should be law/congressional mandate that gays are not allowed to serve in the miloitray because their service is detrimental to good order and discipline. I know some of you are going to eat my lunch for my opinions, but really, did God intend for same gender to be sexually and intimately involved with each other? No, I do not recall ever reading that in any Bible, nor do I recall ever hearing a sermon stating such. Call me old-fashion and logical, does anyone recall Adam was a man and Eve was a woman; and if I'm not mistaken they were placed on earth to start humankind. To put it mildly, this is not about civil liberties and civil rights, this is about what is right and what is wrong. Marriage and sexual intercourse is meant to be engaged in beyween and man and a woman. Some of you may say I have a closed mind, okay fine I'll by that. Some of you may say I have something against gay individuals, and you are wrong. I disagree with the lifestyle, I have no issue with the individuals. It is not right, it goes against God's word and it is naturally wrong. I have (and have had) relatives who engage in this type of lifestyle, and while I disagree(d) with their choices in this area I still love(d) them as human beings and as my family. Allowing gay individual to openly serve in the military would diminish the operational capacity of a unit, and possibly place mission effectiveness in jeopardy. It will simple cause too many problems.

    November 18, 2008 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  12. Leah

    I have no idea why CNN keeps erasing my messages. All I want to say is that as long as people do not flaunt their sexuality and are not exhibitionists, they should be allowed to participate in the military.

    November 18, 2008 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  13. Henry

    Homosexuality is an abomination to the Lord, creator of the universe. This country was founded on Biblical principles, just look at the constitution and the fundamental beliefs that the propelled the founding fathers into action. Whether liberals accept this or not, it is still the fact. Jesus loves you and he would have you turn to him. But that is ultimately up to you.

    November 18, 2008 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  14. Jon

    The morons who refused to let blacks and women serve are the same morons who have refused to let gays serve. The sooner we get rid of these moron, the better our army will be. Our military to serve the entire country and anyone should be able to serve.

    November 18, 2008 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  15. G.R.I.T - Girl Raised in the South

    I think it is high time to change this policy. People should not have to hide who they are to be able to sacrifice their lives for us. If someone wants to serve in the military, police, or fire agencies, they should be able to do so regardless of sexual orientation, race, religious beliefs, gender, etc. I would certainly not want to condemn someone to hiding if they are willing to die for me. It is time for us to accept each other as we are and to celebrate our similarities and differences.

    November 18, 2008 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  16. Jamie

    That's a load of cotten picken crap. There is no way I would want to serve with someone that is gay and every one of my brothers in arms would tell you the same thing. Could you imagine being in a foxhole with some queer that is allowed to be open about it? I would be asking that I be issued a flack jacket and plates to protect my rear end from being shot at. I don't care about gay rights. If your gay, keep your mouth shut and I won't bother you.

    November 18, 2008 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  17. DStorm Vet

    Wow! When people are forced to live in close quarters, dressing, undressing, sleeping, eating and going the bathroom next to or infront of another person it makes it difficult having a person who is OPENLY gay in the fox hole with you. It is the same as putting a male and female in the same fox hole soley because of the sexual desires... THERE IS A REASON males and females are not to be in the same FOX HOLE together! We don't currently put females on the battlefields. And that is only ONE scenario that affects our troops when it comes to Openly gay military personnel!

    November 18, 2008 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  18. E.J. Pearcy

    Ms. Tausher and her cohort should show us just how she'd like to live with twenty or so other women, share showers with them, walk around undressed, toilet beside them, sleep beside them, and know that some of them are out of the closet lesbians. That, I'd love to see a video of anytime soon.

    See that's the big problem for many of us. Heterosexual folks often find it objectionable to become a sex object to their bunk mates. In fact, as a heterosexual man my choice would be to bunk with some heterosexual women. So, why should only homosexuals get to cohabitate and shower with the ones in their sexual fantasies?!

    November 18, 2008 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  19. Laura

    Hey "Veteran," your comment "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 completely ridiculous. Being a man that is sexually attracted to men has nothing to do with wanting to be cutting hair or designing clothes. Gay people in the military obviously WANT to be there, and there is no reason that they would be any more or less effective in serving. In addition, "Don't ask don't tell" isn't about keeping gay people out of the military, it's about making them stay in the closet. Repealing it and letting them be themselves in the military will only make them a more complete person and therefore a more complete soldier, pilot etc.

    I'm ashamed that you speak for our military. Bigotry and hate are NOT American values.

    Plus, you are obviously trying to imply something by calling Obama by his middle name. Trying to induce fear and prejudice?

    It's time that the American people and military move past these discriminatory policies.

    November 18, 2008 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  20. Jill

    Love how people have nothing intelligent to say just hateful, bigoted remarks towards Christians (and, yes, contrary to popular belief, just because a prejudice comment is made towards a Christian, doesn't make it not prejudice). Living the military life for years now, I have to say "Haven't they thought this through?" I am certain that being openly gay in today's military would only hurt the gay person, and may even put their life in danger.

    November 18, 2008 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  21. RebelYell

    Opening the ban will create so many more headaches for the military as far as budgeting and costs and such. Having been deployed and having to share a living space with another person for long periods of time, I would feel the same level of uncomfortablity living with an openly gay man as a heterosexual woman would feel living with a heterosexual man. It would lead to having seperate rooms for gays and lesbians or forcing everyone to be completely co-habitated. Same applies for bathrooms and showers.

    November 18, 2008 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  22. Serving Proudly

    As a soldier it is important to know who you are serving with! I would rather know that my buddy in the foxhole is focused on the fight rather than worrying about being outed. All able bodied men and women should be allowed to serve regardless of their sexuality. We spend way too much money training our military only to have them outed and discharged. Lifting the ban will also stop people joining for special skills and then outing themselves and leaving to find better jobs. Lifting the ban has many advantages. Besides, not many in the military really care anyway. As long as you can do you job who cares. BTW i have been in 21 years.

    November 18, 2008 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  23. DStorm Vet

    Wow! When people are forced to live in close quarters, dressing, undressing, sleeping, eating and going the bathroom next to or infront of another person it makes it difficult having a person who is OPENLY gay in the fox hole with you. It is the same as putting a male and female in the same fox hole soley because of the sexual desires... THERE IS A REASON males and females are not to be in the same FOX HOLE together! We don't currently put females on the battlefields. And that is only ONE scenario that affects our troops when it comes to Openly gay military personnel!

    November 18, 2008 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  24. G.R.I.T - Girl Raised in the South

    Michael Hsu:

    Then quit. I doubt if you have ever served in the military or risked your life for another person, but even if you have, quit. Bye. We don't need your kind. I will celebrate anyone who wants to serve this country, regardless of sexual orientation.

    And to Veteran: if they are in the foxhole with you and your life is on the line, I doubt you'd turn down their offer to save you. I also doubt that if they volunteer for military duty they would prefer to be cutting hair. Grow up.

    November 18, 2008 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  25. WIlly Brown

    Time to get out now that homosexuality will become mandatory. Obama one term and he's voted out.

    November 18, 2008 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
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