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his power to change the policy and forced him to accept the Don't Ask Don't Tell compromise - a law that can only be repealed by Congress.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

    It's rather odd how much of an interest evangelical Christians and others take in the private activity of others. During my service in the Marines, I met people from all wakes of life, some of whom were homosexual. Serving with these individuals was an honor, and I would challenge those whose religion forces them to a prejudical opinion to serve, go to a war zone, and tell me the difference between serving with a heterosexual or homosexual. It's time to wipe our hands clean of bigotry in the name of religion and treat people with some respect.

    November 18, 2008 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  2. Peter

    Gays serving openly in the military: Stupid idea then, stupid idea now. Don't ask, don't tell works. Why subvert military discipline by allowing disruptive behavior of any kind? Behavior is after all what's we're talking about – Everyone's entitled to his/her orientation. No reason that can't be kept private. People pushing for this just don't understand the military. The cohesion of the unit is paramount, not individuals' expressions. To diminish the morale of the military this way isn't change, it's insanity.

    November 18, 2008 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  3. Disgruntled republican

    Anyone who is willing to risk their life to defend their country should be able to do so. These people risk their lives for people who don't want to see them serve their county. DADT needs to abolished. There have been gays in the military for years. God bless them and all the soldiers who faithfully serve OUR country.

    November 18, 2008 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  4. dave

    Sexuality doesn't change the path of a bullet

    November 18, 2008 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  5. Patrice

    It doesn't matter what a person's sexual preference is unless you are hoping to have sex with that person. Otherwise, it is irrelevant.

    November 18, 2008 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  6. UnitedFamily

    The end of "don't ask, don't tell" is the beginning of "never mention this again", thank you....
    You say you won't serve with gays. Don't look now because I would almost guarantee you probably already do!! I am a spouse(wife) of a female active service member and to have the ban done away with would mean more than most could imagine!! It would mean to me that I would be the first one to be notified if something was to happen to her I would be called not someone in her family and then have them contact me....MichaelHsu How would your wife feel if someone else was to be notifed and they found everything out second hand??? How would everyones else wifes and or husbands feel? As far as holding hands in uniform it is not even that how about walking on the beach holding hands, in a shopping mall, movie theater and so on....can you say that doesn't happen with all of the heteosexuals...someone said as long as we (homosexuals) keep it in the privacy of our own homes what about all of the heteosexuals keeping it in the privacy of their own homes??? How about being able to go to all of the holiday parties, festivals, support groups, helping in the spouses organizations. How about being able to be the one to legally be able to make health decisions for each other and not have to side on the sidelines and watch someone else be the one to be making the important stuff....

    November 18, 2008 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  7. Carson

    This will KILL enlistment. And it comes at time when we are fighting two wars and need all the troops we can get. Doin' a heckuva job, Obamie ! You're not even sworn in yet and you're already FUBAR. Straight young men who want to take part in the very macho environment of the military will not be willing to take showers or live in close quarters with openly gay men. Most of you supporting this (like the clueless Obama) have never spent a minute of your lives in uniform. Imagine if you came in to your civilian job one morning and you hear that you will be taking showers with openly gay men. How many of you would continue to work there? (Not many). The military is not a normal 9 to 5 job with cubicles. You are in very close quarters for much of your training and straight people would be forced into very uncomfortable circumstances with people attracted to the same sex. Men and women aren't forced to shower together in the military, so gays and straights shouldn't be either. If you want to live your gay lifestyle do it oustside the military.

    November 18, 2008 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  8. DJ

    It is never a person's choice to be gay. God creates a person as gay. Those who would seek to ridicule or hurt those individuals are casting judgment on what God hath made, and that seems sinful to me. That does not give a gay person free license not to be responsible people or to force their orientation on others. I have known gays and lesbians in my lifetime that were outstanding people, who never forced their orientation on me. Some of these people were the best friends anyone could ask for, very loyal, honest, educated, good citizens, fine character, and some served or now serve with honor in the U.S. Military. So get over it – Iraq tested the waters shoring up with the Brits proving that sexual orientation does not make a difference. Again, to correct a prior post, being gay is not a choice, it is way the God created people. To imply otherwise, or to torture these people mentally or try to change them driving them to suicide in some cases – well, God help you who engage in such abuse. You may find yourself shaking on judgment day before your Maker.

    November 18, 2008 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  9. JCL

    If being a homosexual or a lesbian in the United States armed services wasn't a problem then WHY haven't they been allowed for over 200 years?funny we have fought many wars without open perversion among the ranks and have done great with most of them and we are still the strongest military power on earth,why would anyone (in their right mind)want to put that at risk?...or put it this way...if allowing homosexuals in the military or allowing them to be "open" whatever that is..if allowing them would put the slightest fraction of risk to the strength of the military or national security WHY would anyone even care about allowing their sexual decisions in life so important that they are willing to put the country at true American would do that...face it this is the truth.

    November 18, 2008 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  10. Kurt

    The main issue is that the LORD said that being gay is morally wrong and people will not fight their temptations so instead of doing what is right in the eyes of God they choose to fight to make their sins acceptable. It is only right in their mind, it is still morally wrong and a still a sin in the eyes of the LORD your God. Repent and be saved. Those who choose to make sin ok for society will still answer to the LORD and end up in the fires of Hell. Just because you choose to ignore God does not mean that you won't be judged for your sin and your punishment will still fit the sins that you have not acknowlaged and asked for forgiveness.

    November 19, 2008 12:00 am at 12:00 am |

    sorry, but gays should not be serving openly in the military. It makes people uncomfortable and they will face segregation.

    November 19, 2008 12:49 am at 12:49 am |
  12. rick

    Serving in the military is about honor, integrity, loyalty and it has nothing to do with a lifestye. We give up our freedoms to service our country. Fighting men must trust there fellow soilder, he put his life in his hand and his fellow soldier does the same to him. We who call ourselve men ask that you do not dishonor us.

    November 19, 2008 01:09 am at 1:09 am |
  13. noahjigaboo

    shiii,my brudas and sistas rather beeb collecting a welfare chex .let dem queers serve in da army.shiii, out in dem cold trenches a bruda might need toob git his snuggle on or maybe even need toob play hide da monkey.shiii dat don't mean heeb beeb gay just on da down low.

    November 19, 2008 03:13 am at 3:13 am |
  14. JohnTexas

    Bob Dillian was right.... The times, the are a'changing. We need every capable soldier in the field for the fight on terror. Why refuse good hearted Americans who wish to serve their country? You think there is a better opportunity to find a boyfriend on the battlefield or someone who wants to protect our rights back home in the battlefield. I bless anyone who would stand in harms way for our country in a foreign land against those who'd wish to destroy our freedoms at home.

    November 19, 2008 03:43 am at 3:43 am |
  15. Cynthia

    Please stop comparing what African Americans went through in our history to the GLBT community. It is not on the same level at all!!!!!!!! GLBT folks have not been enslaved. They may have their own challenges right now, but it is not EVEN CLOSE TO BEING THE SAME!!!!!!!!

    November 19, 2008 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
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