February 3rd, 2010
01:24 PM ET
5 years ago

Powell backs repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'

 'In the almost seventeen years since the Don't Ask, Don't Tell legislation was passed, attitudes and circumstances have changed,' Colin Powell said in a statement released Wednesday.
'In the almost seventeen years since the Don't Ask, Don't Tell legislation was passed, attitudes and circumstances have changed,' Colin Powell said in a statement released Wednesday.

Washington (CNN) – Colin Powell, the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and former Secretary of State, has come out in favor of eventually repealing the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy on gay and lesbian service members.

"In the almost seventeen years since the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' legislation was passed, attitudes and circumstances have changed," Powell said in a statement released by his office Wednesday.

Powell added that he believes the ultimate decision about the policy should be made by President Obama, the nation's commander-in-chief; the military's top brass; and Congress.

"I fully support the new approach presented to the Senate Armed Services Committee this week by Secretary of Defense Gates and Admiral Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. I will be closely following future hearings, the views of the Service Chiefs and the implementation work being done by the Department of Defense," Powell also said Wednesday.

Appearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday, Gates and Mullen said the military is preparing for a repeal of the policy.

Mullen told senators it is his "personal belief" that "allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly [in the military] would be the right thing to do."

"The question before us is not whether the military prepares to make this change, but how we best prepare for it," Defense Secretary Gates told senators Tuesday. "We have received our orders from the commander in chief and we are moving out accordingly."

The ultimate decision about repealing the policy rests with Capitol Hill. Last week during his first State of the Union address, President Obama called on Congress to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."


Filed under: Colin Powell • Don't Ask Don't Tell
soundoff (62 Responses)
  1. Obama is obstructing the gay rights movement....

    Obama is against gay marriage and once again is on the wrong side of an important issue......

    We voted for him and he is sticking it to us......."don't ask, don't tell" only affects 13,000 people and so it's virtually useless to the gay community.....

    February 3, 2010 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  2. If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    Take that John McCain! You are such a worthless flip flopping senile bitter old man.

    February 3, 2010 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  3. Obama Enemy List Wannabe

    The politically correct gang that is pushing this has never been in combat. Yeah, I know Powell has, but maybe it has been too long. They think that – shucks – we have women in the military – that works – so why not gays? Well, we don't have gender mixed ground combat units, and speaking from experience, the dynamic will cause problems, regardless of whether the parties have the same plumbing or not.

    February 3, 2010 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  4. Susan

    Thank goodness! At last a republican is willing to stand up for what's right! Good job, Mr. Powell.

    February 3, 2010 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  5. JA/TN

    people it is elementary, America is fighting three wars and need all willing bodies, all other segments allow homosexuals and lesbians

    February 3, 2010 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  6. Dieter Zerressen

    Wait for it. McCain will now denounce Powell. Whever happened to "listen to the Generals"? They forgot to add, "when the General's happen to agree with you, otherwise throw them under the bus too".

    February 3, 2010 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  7. Wayne in Avondale

    Say it's not so!

    The next thing you know Colin Powell will be telling us that Saddam Hussein really didn't have weapons of mass destruction!

    "Justice delayed is justice denied."

    February 3, 2010 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  8. Marlee Stone

    Oh, you foolish people...!

    February 3, 2010 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  9. Independent

    Thank you to Collin Powell (former SoS/Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff), current Chairman Admiral Mullen and Sec. of Defense Gates for rightly supporting the repeal of DADT.

    Sen. McCain, are you going to honor your previous pledge now?? Or does the "straight-talk" mean nothing?

    February 3, 2010 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  10. What???

    Don't tell Granpee McShame. He'll blow a cork and have a heart attack. He thought everything having to do with the military should be passed through him first. Shouting at clouds....sad!

    February 3, 2010 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  11. pt

    Powell seems to be doing "I was against it before I was for it." What changed his stance on so many issues, not just this one?
    Also, if homosexuals are openly allowed in the military, then women should be openly allowed on the battlefield, because similar arguments apply to both scenarios. These are military readiness, cohesion, morale, trust, finances, etc.
    Although national women organizations have never advocated child rape, national homosexual organization(s) have never rejected their publicized 1970's goal of removal of all age restrictions for sex.

    February 3, 2010 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  12. gary davis's speling teechur

    obamma is rite. obamma is alwayze rite.

    I am gary davis's speling teechur, and I apruved this messige.

    February 3, 2010 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  13. Michelle

    It's too bad that Bush used this intelligent guy as the fall guy for their lack of intelligence on Iraq. Had he known the truth, he would never have made that UN speech, and we would be 5000 live soldiers and trillions of dollars to the good. Not to mention the money it will cost US to rebuild the mess we have made in Iraq.
    But as long as you have people like McCain who supported this, but now, because Obama wants it to happen, McCain thinks it's a terrible idea to repeal, I suspect it will be hard to get this through Congress. Republicans seem to not care whether something is moral and just, as long as their nonsense can make the White House look bad. Pitiful excuse for a Congress right now, with McCain leading the way. Maybe AZ will wise up and defeat him....term limits, anyone?

    February 3, 2010 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  14. If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    It is a waste of time talking to republicans. They will not listen to the American people, so why would anyone expect them to listen to military experts.

    February 3, 2010 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  15. Ken in NC

    Thank you Gen. Powell.

    February 3, 2010 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  16. Bubble of Sanity

    Powell's only concern is Powell. He's one of the reasons "dont ask don't tell" exists. He was a driving force behind it. Colin Powell does what is good for Colin Powell.

    When the Republicans were surging in the Reagan years, Powell was a loyal Republican. When W Bush's presidency guttered and Obama was on the way up, Powell signed on with Obama.

    The Iraq war? It could have been over a decade earlier. When Bush 41's army was on the way to Baghdad, Powell publicly announced that the army would not go to Baghdad - all without consulting the President.

    Powell has been a boil on the butt of both parties, and he's never really done anything - at least anything that anyone else couldn't have done.

    If Obama falls badly and Democrats lose badly in November, Powell will suddenly have an epiphany and become a Republican again. If those in power want a ban on gays in the military, Powell will be right there with them.

    He is a political chameleon; he is also a leech.

    February 3, 2010 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  17. Liz

    This is a Republican that I would vote for!

    February 3, 2010 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  18. Moderate

    Guess John McCain is still old and stupid and WRONG. I have heard this from Powell before the hearing where his words from the Clinton Administration were sited by "Wrong Way McCain"

    February 3, 2010 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  19. webster

    A house divided against itself cannot stand. My views are reasonably conservative from a classical point of view. Classical liberal, aka a "real" Republican. I stand for liberty. I stand for what I believe were the true intentions of the founding fathers. Surely they made mistakes (like slavery) mainly though because our republic was so fragile and those types of compromises were designed to get it going at any cost. We all know now though that the cost of those compromises were very high.
    That said, gays in the military cannot remain a compromise that eats at the fabric in which this country was founded.
    Our founding fathers were mostly Christian but they were wise enough to know that one size did not fit all for faith or tolerance. Colonial America looked a lot like the USA today. Waves of immigrants, the threat of terror, questionable allies, and most of the social ills we have today.

    Our constitution was written in a way that allows liberty to flourish. I find it ironic that well over 200 years later we question the intentions or ability of a man or woman who wants to serve their country, flag, and people.

    I'm willing to admit that this is a sensitive issue but our military are some of the most professional military people on the earth. They must allow all people to serve their country.

    By my measure most gay people I meet are in the category of the most patriotic people I've ever met. The irony isnt lost on them. They cherish the rights and freedoms our constitution provides to live as they choose. And as a result many of them want to serve their country proudly. We must let them do it.

    America has enemies and we must confront them united. Thats what we stand for. My father is a decorated WWII vet who served in the Pacific. My uncle was also a decorated vet who participated in the Normandy invasion. Both of them said that they definitely served with guys who were gay. Perhaps at times they were a bit uncomfortable considering the era but yet they also said that we needed every man who wanted to serve or else we may not have won. In hindsight they saw no problems with it. My father said it was "never a problem" because everyone had a common goal. He believed that every man had the right to serve his country.

    I trust the word of a true hero on this issue.

    February 3, 2010 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  20. Reagan raised taxes and tripled the debt.

    Great,now maybe Rush the coward and his cellar dwelling dittoheads will finally join up.

    February 3, 2010 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  21. Lori in Texas

    Good for Mr. Powell. Has he mentioned this to John McCain? Seems Mr. McCain is the only one left who doesn't believe all Americans deserve equal rights despite what he said in 2006 pre- election mode. This is 2010, we are still in two wars and we need the dismissed Arabic and Farsi linguists to help us regardless of their personal lives. Gay and lesbian soldiers are not a threat to our National Security, but bigotry sure is.

    Now, wake up old men – in a short time you will all be retired and the next generation will accept all patriots who want to serve our great country. Until then, your just making total fools of yourselves.

    February 3, 2010 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  22. Nate, OLY

    Gen Powell is the ONLY republican that I would ever vote for. Respected him in uniform for his leadership and seems to be the only repub with that bone in his body.

    February 3, 2010 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  23. Steve (the real one)

    We already know gays are already serving in the military and serving well. They just keep their sex lives private! The possible issue is being overly overt! Don't ask, don't tell is real simple. Don't volunteer info on your sex life both gay and straight! The real question is does the Congress have the will to take this on?

    February 3, 2010 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  24. BeverlyinNC

    Thank goodness we have a voice of integrity and military expertise speaking up to end discrimination in the military. These same arguments being used against gays were the same ones used against women joining the military.
    It's past time to use the talents and skills of any citizen who wishes to serve our country. The military has already gotten rid of 13K gays who were expertly skilled in speaking Arabic, experts on counter-terrorism and other ridiculous decisions. Bush's homophobia was another reason he made us less safe.
    John McCain needs to shut up and keep notes on what he said in the past. He is becoming less lucid and credible. He was nasty to the Joint Chiefs yesterday and stated he was totally against repealing "don't ask, don't tell".
    However, McCain is on video 3 years ago stating that he would strongly support the repealing of "dont' ask, dont' tell" when the Military Leadership agreed it was time to end the discrimination. So what happened to that promise McCain?
    Just another hyprocrite obstructionist Republican trying to slow down common sense solutions. Who cares what McCain thinks anyway? He is the fool who chose Palin as his running mate. It's time for McCain to retire.
    Thank you Colin Powell – a true hero and the single Republican with character. Repeal the discrimation now! With all the Bush wars we are stuck in, we need all the intelligent help we can get.

    February 3, 2010 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  25. Old Farmboy

    All I can say is, I am glad I retired from the military when I did.

    February 3, 2010 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
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