July 27th, 2009
11:51 AM ET
13 years ago

'Don't ask, don't tell' to get Senate committee review, senator says

WASHINGTON (CNN) - A key U.S. Senate committee will hold a hearing on the military's controversial "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays and lesbians, according to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a New York Democrat.

The Senate Armed Services committee will hold the hearing in the fall, she said in a written announcement.

A committee spokeswoman confirmed that there will hearings, but that no specific legislation is under consideration.

"Don't ask, don't tell" is the policy that prevents openly gay troops from serving in the U.S. military.

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton instituted it in 1993 as a way of loosening restrictions on gay men and lesbians serving in the armed forces - the policy ended the requirement that servicemen and women state their sexual orientation. But its opponents say it does not go far enough.

"'Don't ask, don't tell' is an unfair, outdated measure that violates the civil rights of some of our bravest, most heroic men and women," Gillibrand said in her statement. "By repealing this policy, we will increase America's strength - both militarily and morally."

Nearly 13,000 service members have been discharged for their sexual orientation since 1993, she said.

President Barack Obama has said he wants Congress to repeal the law, but gay rights groups have been angered that the president has not done more to hasten the change.

Since Obama took office, 265 service members have been discharged for being gay, according to Gillibrand.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, said earlier this month that it is clear the president wants the law changed and he is beginning to work with his staff on how a repeal would be implemented.

But he warned that the decision is not be hurried with two wars ongoing.

"When I talk about looking at this in the future, we have a force that's under extraordinary stress, and it's a force that, you know, should this occur, I think we need to implement in a way that that recognizes the challenges and the stress that we're under right now," said Mullen, the country's highest-ranking military officer.

"But, if it does occur, when it does occur, you know, I'll certainly lead it and carry it out."

Defense Secretary Robert Gates recently said he is looking for ways to make the policy "more humane," including letting people serve who may have been outed due to vengeance or a jilted lover.

But there is plenty of opposition to the repeal. In the spring, more than 1,000 retired officers signed a letter organized by the group Flag and General Officers for the Military urging Obama to uphold the existing law.

"We believe that imposing this burden on our men and women in uniform would undermine recruiting and retention, impact leadership at all levels, have adverse effects on the willingness of parents who lend their sons and daughters to military service, and eventually break the all-volunteer force," the letter said.

–CNN's Adam S. Levine contributed to this report.

Filed under: Don't Ask Don't Tell
soundoff (56 Responses)
  1. NA

    As a gay soldier, even if DADT is repealed, I still wouldn't be comfortable coming out to coworkers. Its not exactly a gay-friendly enviornment, nor a liberal-friendly one either. I know it will be a shock to some, but I can actually get my work done without eyeballing all my fellow soldiers. Also, I would say that people constantly ASK me if I'm married. Isnt that violating DADT to ask someone if they're heterosexual? Everyone says its no one's business if they're gay or not, but people talk and they do ask. Trust me, if you're an O-6 and have never been married, people will make assumptions. As for worrying about being checked out in the shower, well, plenty of straight guys check each other out as well just to see the competition. There are plenty of straight guys who fool around on their wives with other guys and gals. Just check out craigslist around a military base and you'll find out.

    July 27, 2009 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  2. Melissa

    Good. Its about time. There is no reason why the military, who risk their lives daily, need to be such big whiny babies about gay people. They need to just get over it. No more prejudice.

    July 27, 2009 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  3. stormerF

    Why are we trying so hard to change something that works? You don't need to tell eveyone of your sexual orientation to prefom your job.If you do than you need to find another line of work...I spent 20 years in the military and knew some were gay and never suspected others but it never kept me from doing my job,or from giving orders to others,with expectations of them to do their job at the best of their ability ... If you need to proclaim your sexuality openly than you need to be in another line of work.

    July 27, 2009 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  4. Esco

    I don't think sexual preference should hinder anyone from serving...its not right! Its bad enough racism still exists to a high degree even till this day...

    July 27, 2009 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  5. Thomas

    When I was stationed in Korea back in the 80's, I was roommates with a homosexual. Never hand any problems nor issues. We both respected each other.

    Much ado about nothing. Repeal the law. We need as many loyal Americans to serve their country as we can get.

    Heed the words of Barry Goldwater. It does not matter whether a soldier is straight or not, only that he can shoot straight.

    July 27, 2009 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
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