May 30th, 2010
01:41 PM ET
8 years ago

'They should not have done this,' Dem says of DADT fast track

'I was really disappointed in -- in the way that this process was accelerated,' Sen. Webb told CNN.

'I was really disappointed in - in the way that this process was accelerated,' Sen. Webb told CNN.

Washington (CNN) – A leading Democratic voice on military affairs has criticized members of his own party for the hurried way in which congressional Democrats and the White House are pushing through the repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

President Obama, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have all stated their belief that the policy should be changed. In an effort to lay the groundwork to do away with “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” Gates and Mullen have commissioned a thorough survey of U.S. service members in order to ascertain how the force structure feels as a whole about having openly gay and lesbian members serving within their midst.

Related: Mullen on DADT review

The results of the review will not be available until December but in an apparent acknowledgement that they may not have sufficient votes to support a repeal after this November’s midterms, the White House and Democrats on Capitol Hill moved forward last week with efforts to pass a law that would repeal the policy. The House approved the provision as part of a larger defense spending bill and the Senate Armed Services Committee also approved the measure. The legislation, if passed, would not take effect until the military’s internal review is completed; it also requires the president, Gates, and Mullen to sign off on the policy change.

Notwithstanding these measures intended to defer to the Pentagon, Sen. Jim Webb, D-Virginia, still faulted the legislative moves to fast track the repeal.

“I was really disappointed in - in the way that this process was accelerated. I was the only Democrat that voted against this in committee markup,” Webb said in an interview aired Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union.

Webb, himself a Vietnam veteran and a former Secretary of the Navy, sits on the Senate Armed Forces Committee and is the Chairman of the Armed Forces Personnel Subcommittee.

“I believe we had a process in place. And to preempt it in some ways, showed a disrespect for the people in the military,” Webb told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley.

“They should not have done this,” Webb added.

Webb equivocated when asked whether he thought the move to repeal the Clinton-era policy smacked of politics in advance of this November’s midterm elections.

“There are a lot of people who feel very passionately about this. I think, you know, everyone can explain their own motivations. But for me, I just think it was a bad signal to the people in the military to do it this way.”

Webb described the votes last week on Capitol Hill as “the Congress jumping ahead of the process” set up by the Pentagon to study repealing the policy.

The Virginia Democrat was so adamant in his belief that the concerns of the military not be ignored that he refused to take a position on whether the policy ought to be repealed.

“I think we should listen to the military. We should hear from the military,” he told Crowley.

soundoff (72 Responses)
  1. Anonymous

    This should never have been law- so 17 years after it was rushed into law, it's abolition hardly is a rush to correct this stupid rule.
    Anyone that doesn't think gay men and women have served valiantly in our armed forces for decades is living with their head in the sand

    May 30, 2010 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  2. Victim of GOP Taliban

    This is just a bunch of games to get the fringe elements of both parties fired-up. It is a total waste of time. The President already has addressed this issue and the military will carry-out when ready.

    May 30, 2010 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  3. phoenix86

    Welcome to "Change", which is where a fringe leftist administration and a far left congress push through legislation which the majority of Americans oppose in the fast possible time.

    The Obama / Pelosi adminstration is nothing more than mob rule.

    May 30, 2010 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  4. Charles Wilson

    If the integration of the military in the 40s had been done only if a poll of military personnel had supported it, the integration would NOT have happened. It is likely that integration of the military would not have happened until the late 60s or 70s - and possibly not until the 80s. Integration of the military was one of the things that drove true integration in civil life. If it had gone the other way around it would have taken decades longer.

    An military person who does not understand that the lower ranking individuals do NOT get a say in these decisions is delusional. Any congressman or senator who thinks the lower ranking personnel get a say in this is delusional.

    Repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" must not be based upon a poll of military personnel. If it is the right thing to do it must be done. The rank and file don't get a say.

    May 30, 2010 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  5. David H

    Sounds to me like they want to continue discrimination.

    May 30, 2010 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  6. Kathy Robbins

    I served in the Navy more than 40 years ago. I'm sure there were homosexuals serving right alongside me at the time. They've been there centuries before DADT and they will be there long after that policy is repealed. With terrorism, oil spills, crime along our borders, etc America's ALL VOLUNTEER military needs resources that are not tied to a soldier's sexual preferences but rather their intelligence and skills. In this land of freedom for all our govt is long past due to get rid of this puritannical attitude towards homosexuals. Also, Sen.Webb, the military is under the control of the govt and while the military may need time to determine how to implement govt policy it is very wrong to ask the military if it's ok to do so.

    May 30, 2010 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  7. Byron in Minneapolis

    We DID hear from the military AND the American people. Over 75% of citizens want DADT repealed and the vast majority of the military rank and file as well as leadership at the top want it repealed as well. Our soldiers are brave examples of what it means to be an American and they are NOT the bigots that Republicans and weak kneed Democrats want to portray them to be. In the service, you're a fellow soldier FIRST, being gay doesn't matter when you're defending your country.

    May 30, 2010 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  8. OaklandTracy

    Whaah, Disrespect! Whaah, too fast! Whaah, disappointment!

    You know what's disrespectful and disappointing? The hundreds of gay and lesbian service members dishonorably discharged every year under DADT, the witch hunts in the military that got worse under DADT, and the sheer idiocy of this policy in the first place.

    May 30, 2010 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  9. Ancient Texan

    Though I differ with Jim Webb on most policies that the Dems adhere to, I am pleased quite often by the Senators' display of common sense. Something that has been seriously lacking in either party for some time.

    May 30, 2010 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  10. Ruty

    Why in the world are the politicians always fighting? Can't you people agree on anything? Why not act like adults once in a while.

    May 30, 2010 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  11. The King

    “I believe we had a process in place. And to preempt it in some ways, showed a disrespect for the people in the military,” Webb told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley.

    How does this disrespect anyone in the military? I really thought Webb was smarter than this. Could be catering to his local constituents, as he knows this is a non-issue.

    May 30, 2010 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  12. ephraim

    While half of Americans complain the president is getting nothing done, the other half, even from his own party claim he is going too fast. The Democrats for whatever reason now have momentum and are getting things done. Front-loading approval for a review that is in process is
    completely normal. All it does is set the stage for the reviews recommendations to be implemented rather than politics to be thrust
    upon something the American people at 70-80% all agree on. Get rid
    of DADT and get on with it. The military of all the places in the world
    understand marching orders. That's an order – soldier!

    May 30, 2010 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  13. Bennie Richardson

    It seems to me that the government is abdicating it's responsibility to guarantee that "all men are created equal". The Civil Rights movement against segregation was extremely unpopular with most of the South, yet the government, rightly, sent in troops to enforce compliance. Todays religious driven politicians would denigrate those gay men and women who have defended and supported this country with their lives by supporting DADT. Shame on you. Shame on the president for not issuing an executive order ending this illegal, insulting nightmare.

    May 30, 2010 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  14. Steven P

    Change just for the sake of change is silly – whether we are talking about gays serving overtly or covertly, or about anything else. Change for the sake of change is silly.

    May 30, 2010 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  15. garc

    And I always had some respect for him...Yet another person just trying fruitlessly to please the right-wing nutjobs.

    May 30, 2010 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  16. Hwy91

    While I admire Jim Webb, I'm afraid he's off course here. The military has clearly been hampered by the provisions of DADT, and the cost of replacing (through recruitment and retraining) military men and women who have been outed and ousted from the service is too high to ignore. With two wars yet to be ended, and US forces stretched to the limits, it's time for the military to come into the 21st century and admit that homosexuality, while perverse to some and abhorant to others, does exist, has always existed and will continue to exist throughout eternity.

    Obviously, there will be details yet to be worked out – such as disallowing public displays of affection by ANY members of the military, same sex or opposite sex – but let's get real. You can pretend it's not there with the cutely-named, but sadly outdated "Don't Ask Don't Tell" law, but let's all just grow up and accept the truth – they're queer and they're here – absolutely no offense intended to my comrades in arms who are, by nature, simply not attracted to the opposite sex.

    May 30, 2010 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  17. gary

    Webb is from Virginia and is playing to a very conservative base. Surely he knows that soldiers who are gay have lost their lives defending this country and the current policy dishonors them and their families. I'm sure Senator Webb as a military man who has served in combat values the lives of gay and straight who have sacrificed so much in defense of the country.

    May 30, 2010 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  18. Susan Frishkorn

    Yet another wanna-be Democrat who does not understand the concept

    of discrimination. Sen. Webb, go change your party affillation!

    DADT moving too fast for you?

    Oh, yeah! 17 years is w-a-y to short a time to recognise failure!

    Susan Frishkorn
    Pensacola, Fl.

    May 30, 2010 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  19. ajax

    Senator Webb is only saying this because it's politically smart for him.He's trying to get back in the good graces of voters for his support of the unpopular healthcare bill that was shoved down the throats of the American people.Hopefully,Virginia voters will see through this stupid little game that he's playing.

    May 30, 2010 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  20. Air Force Retired

    We all know that the military will drag this review out for as long as it can. I had a roommate that was gay. He never did anything to me and I became his friend. He did his job very well. He was killed in Vietnam. That was when I changed my thinking about gays in the military. And I could have been discharged for not turning him in.

    May 30, 2010 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  21. Toad

    The democrats are trying as fast as they can before the november elections to pass everything they can with total disregard for the american people and soldiers!!

    May 30, 2010 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  22. Jamie Roberts

    They should have "done this" two decades ago (or even earlier). The U.S. is the only NATO country clinging to this wrong-headed policy that dishonors those willing to give their lives for the U.S. – and has risked our national security by firing dozens of gay Arabic and Farsi speakers. At least 79 percent of Americans believe gays should serve openly. And no one asked the military to decide in the early 1950s, when Truman integrated the armed services. You may say now that "this is different," but when you read what the objections were back then, they seem pretty similar.

    May 30, 2010 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  23. NVa Native

    I voted for Webb. Now I'm not so sure about him.
    Why would he vote with the bigots and support a vote against the rights of our service men and women?
    No matter how he votes he will never get a tea-bagger or neo-con to vote for him.

    May 30, 2010 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  24. Insanity!

    Bisexuals and gays have been a mainstay in the great armies of the past ... including those of Alexander the Great. While I have some
    concern about the immediate impact on performance that WILL be caused by this openness, I believe that the time has come to give it a try. As a senior with years of experience within both the public and the private sector, I have never encountered a gay that was not above average in talent and motivation. They are good people and professional in their approach to "work". They are not predators
    any more than non-gays. Let's get past the rhetoric and look at the facts. Let's move on with our lives and get this once great country moving in a positive direction again.

    May 30, 2010 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  25. Carol

    “I believe we had a process in place. And to preempt it in some ways, showed a disrespect for the people in the military,” Webb told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley.

    Kinda like the disrepect that the military shows gays and lesbians?

    I general like Se Webb, but thibnk he's just wrong onthis.

    May 30, 2010 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
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