May 30th, 2010
01:41 PM ET
5 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. Annabeth Palacios

    Unlike Webb, I think this process will take far too long. Just go forward with gays in the military as other civilized countries have done without any measurable detriment to readiness. Of course there is resistance to change, but everyone adjusts...esp. the military.

    May 30, 2010 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  2. Bill

    Why keep waiting to end discrimination, Mr. Webb?

    May 30, 2010 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  3. Grace

    There they go again. The arrogant, elitist Democrats pushing their agenda because they think they are the only group that knows what's best for the country-they don't even have the decency to wait for the results of the review to come out. I am sick and tired of the way the Democrats think they are the epitome of all that is good and right. Out with their self-righteous little selves and bring in some new blood. They are making the entire party look bad.

    May 30, 2010 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  4. PDXSerric

    “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."

    He is correct – we do have a process in place. This process has led to the firing of thousands of qualified specialists with abilities needed for our efforts in the Middle East as well as many more specialists leaving of their own free will merely because they happen to be different. Our volunteer-based military is dwindling and yet Webb, et al, wishes to continue to place limitations upon, and further segregate our military.

    May 30, 2010 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  5. Mitzie - GA

    I have a great deal of respect and admiration for Jim Webb. I however, feel very differently about the reversal of the "don't ask, don't tell law" than he does. I have never understood how the U.S. military is so different from other countries' military. How is it that Britain's military seems so unaffected or concerned about gays in the military and seem to function just fine? Yet, we in the U.S. the supposed beacon of freedom and tolerance, are still arguing this point.

    May 30, 2010 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  6. Darth Vadik, CA

    With all due respect to Webb, here is the thing about injustice, it needs to be stopped today, not tomorrow.

    As far as disrespect?

    Disrespecting a whole class of people is a lot worse than disrespecting someones bigotry.

    If that will cost the Democrats a few votes by the Neanderthals in the Republican party, so be it, not that a Republican would vote Democratic anyway, but regardless,

    INJUSTICE AND BIGOTRY NEEDS TO BE STOPPED TODAY, NOT TOMORROW, AND NOT THE DAY AFTER...

    ..TODAY

    May 30, 2010 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  7. Frank in valparaiso indiana

    Times change. There were gays in the military over 20 years ago, there are now. Except for this stupid policy keeps them in the closet. And subject to blackmail. Its time its changed.

    May 30, 2010 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  8. Petey

    I don't see Webb stopping this. He is not up for reelection this November, but a lot of other Dems are, and a lot of them are not coming back. Now that the novelty of health care reform has worn off so quickly, and in the face of the growing oil spill crisis, I think the Dems are doing this simply because this is their chance to get something else done before November. Immigration reform looks like a non-starter, but this looks doable, I don't think there's much more strategy behind it than that.

    May 30, 2010 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  9. JohnRJ08

    I don't know if Webb is that rare species of liberal homophobe or not, but the fact is that the so-called process he refers to in this interview was moving at an unsatisfactorily slow pace. Even this new process is unnecessarily slow. The fact is, DADT was an ill-conceived and discriminatory policy and it should be eliminated ex post haste. This investigation by the military is just a stalling tactic to give the throwbacks in the military time to adjust their paleozoic mentality.

    May 30, 2010 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  10. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    On 9/11 did we care whether those 3,000+ that died whether they were gay, lesbian or straight, we didn't know and we didn't care because it was the blood of Americans.

    May 30, 2010 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  11. Annonimous

    Ibelieve that it should not be repealed, being a gay man myself. I know from experiance that most people feel uncomfortable around gay people. I think that for the best of our military that the law should remain in use to preserve the comradery that developed between men and women in the military.

    May 30, 2010 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  12. blue

    The law should be changed now. If they can die for our country, they can serve as who they are. Period!

    May 30, 2010 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  13. John N Florida

    I think that everyone is so concerned with exactly the same 'fears' I remember from when Truman signed the Integration Order.
    You hear EXACTLY the same excuses for NOT doing it. The same FEARS for not doing it.
    What I can't understand is the position of people like Colin Powell. Weren't they aware of the "REASONS" why blacks should not be allowed to serve in an Integrated military?

    May 30, 2010 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  14. Ryan

    The only disrespect shown was discriminating against those who serve in our armed forces who are as American as everyone else in this country and happen to be gay. Honestly, I don't care what you are or believe or do – if you're willing to take a bullet for me then I owe you one too.

    May 30, 2010 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  15. Mike in NYC

    No surprise that Mullen supports the repeal. Upper echelon military are go along to get along types by definition, as they wouldn't be where they are if they weren't. The fact that he and SOD Gates used the term "gay" instead of "homosexual" more often than they needed to says a lot.

    The armed forces have long been a testing ground for so-called "progressive' change, so the repeal was pretty much inevitable.

    May 30, 2010 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  16. D.

    The democrats are just a collection of very special interest that has no interest in the interest of the USA.

    May 30, 2010 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  17. Jeff Spangler

    Pandering to poofters is popular and populist. Good to hear a voice of reason from Webb, who has the guts to tick off politicos with assertions like "Why Women Can't Fight". Our slavish devotion to "diversity" even in environments where it may not be entirely appropriate on a fast track will potentially degrade the morale and readiness of the military, which is composed of many politically incorrect lower-class rednecks who won't ever accept gays no matter how valiant they may be. That's the reality on the ground and the compelling reason for deliberate transition.

    May 30, 2010 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  18. usualone

    Why are people so afraid.? If someone approaches a soldier and he says "no" then the other most likely will drop the issue. One never hears of homosexuals beating up heterosexuals. The opposite is the case that gets reported. It is about time people accept each other no matter what their race, religion, etc. is. That is what America is all about. The bullet of a homosexual in battle has the same affect as that of the heterosexual. Americans need to grow up.

    May 30, 2010 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  19. Rich in Decatur

    Repealing DADT may or may not be the right thing to do. While the issue in the forefront is military policy, the real issue is congressional abuse of power. It is clear this is a political move to take advantage of a situation while the opportunity exists. Whether you are conservative or liberal, you should detest this in our representatives. This is no more than a political power play by a party with an agenda. Anyone that believes the ends justifies the means should be voted out of office. I for one can't wait for November to vote out every last self-serving, power hungry, non-listening, holier than thou incumbent.

    May 30, 2010 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  20. Brandon Cano-Errecart (San Diego)

    I'm not sure how fast-tracking repealing DADT would have "showed a disrespect for the people in the military”... didn't know being tolerant was a bad thing.

    May 30, 2010 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  21. L.L.

    It is sneaking and backroom if you ask me. The Dems are worried that they are going to lose in November and they should be worried. I am not sure why we are getting the survey now if the decision has already been made?????

    The military will regret that they reversed this law as it will introduce many other legal issues and lawsuits within the Armed forces. You will see many leave the Armed forces just to appease the Gay agenda. Sad...it undermines what a miltiary force is for. A Unit!!!!!! Not an indivdual.

    May 30, 2010 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  22. david john

    too soon? too fast? are you daft? this policy needed to be changed from that start and has been in place since the clinton years! are you kidding?
    could not happen a moment to soon as far as i am concerned.

    May 30, 2010 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  23. Ron

    Disrespect for the military? If a gay person is willing to go and risk their lives for this country then they shouldn't have to hide who they are period.

    May 30, 2010 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  24. MHabib

    Sen. Webb is right. It is absurd for the Obama Administration to announce a review of this issue and then move for congressional approval of the policy before the review is completed. This is yet another example of Obama applying the doctrine of political correctness without considering its impact on national security.

    May 30, 2010 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  25. Jane Sullivan

    "Going too fast"?? Sorry, Mr. Webb, but it's apparent that 80% of Americans (gay and straight) and the majority of the military high brass think this is about 16 years too slow.... Plus I don't understand why it would take longer than one day to 'implement' the repeal. It's simply a matter of the Joint Chiefs issuing a memo to the effect of "DADT is stupid. We've finally figured this out, with the help of EVERY OTHER CIVILIZED MILITARY in the free world that employs out gays in its service, so effective this date, stop it. That is all."

    May 30, 2010 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
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