July 27th, 2009
11:51 AM ET
12 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"'Don't ask, don't tell' is an unfair, outdated measure that violates the civil rights of some of our bravest, most heroic men and women," Gillibrand said in her statement.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. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    It would be a good thing for Sen. Gillibrand to be first on top of this since she's up for re-election. Fighting against D.A.D.T. will definitely get her re-elected.

    July 27, 2009 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  2. B

    We need to grow up and join the rest of the world and do away with this outdated policy.

    July 27, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  3. John

    Dear Senators,
    Review it right out of the books. If someone wants to fight for our country, let him or her, regardless of the gender of the person they love.

    July 27, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  4. Al-NY,NY

    265 so far this year. How many since it was instituted? All patriotic Americans that want to serve their country but were kicked out (wasting all the time and $ to train them) because of their lifestyle. Ridiculous. Do hetero soldiers get to flaunt their lifestyle openly? Yup

    July 27, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  5. JGB

    Don't ask and don't tell, what is so hard to understand about that? If someone is gay that is their business and they don't need to make it anyone elses business. Sexual preference has no place for discussion in any work place. I don't run around announcing that I am Heterosexual!!

    July 27, 2009 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  6. Johnathan

    As a twenty-five year veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, I can tell you that allowing Gays to openly serve in the military will cause problems. At the same time, there is no doubt the current policy is discrimination against the Gay community. There are many situations in the military where there is no privacy, and the first time an openly Gay military person is caught checking somone out in a community shower situation there will be trouble. I've heard Gays state that they would have resraint in those types of situations, but I know if they were to have co-ed showers when I was in, I would not be able to not look at my female counterparts. I think the policy should stay the same, but I also acknoweledge that it is not fair.

    July 27, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  7. RNC = DNC = politics as usual

    Umbama has decided to ignore gays now that he got their votes.
    Don't ask, don't tell, don't know them.

    July 27, 2009 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  8. Librarian

    It's about time. This policy is despicable and should be repelled.

    July 27, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  9. bsmith171

    close down the military.
    hire mercenaries.

    get the US military out of 113 countries.

    July 27, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  10. Mike

    I sure hope Obama fights to repeal this embarrassing law. He promised he would and he knows perfectly well that it's the morally right thing to do.

    July 27, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  11. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    I guess the question for me is how do soldiers, marines and other troops feel about it. I don't think the policy is necessary personally, but I don't know if that matters since I am not in the military and not a homosexual. Also, not being a member of Congress, I won't be able to vote on it. There have been far too many stories of men and women being discharge under this when we need their skill set. That hurts national security

    July 27, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  12. Marc in MS

    Well, this will certainly get those whack jobs at Westboro BC fired up.

    The one thing this will do is eliminate a loophole in which someone can get out. I knew guys who couldn't hack basic training, and some that didn't want to be deployed to Iraq in '91 who said they were gay just to get out. I wonder how many of these discharges listed in this article are like that?

    July 27, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  13. yuri

    Oh boy! These gay-lesbian issues are riddled with highly charged controversies so much that they need a Gov. intervention in some form or the other.

    July 27, 2009 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  14. rostook

    wasted time on nonsense.

    July 27, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  15. LacrosseMom

    Its about time that the stupid "don't ask, don't tell" be withdrawn. There has ALWAYS been Gays in the military! What are they afraid of? Truth?

    July 27, 2009 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  16. Surge

    This has nothing to do with Obama so either way it goes he can absolve himself from the issue.....again. He has SAID alot but the only thing he's DONE is to have his admin argue in support of DOMA by using really disgusting terminology. Will the 265 dishcarged under his watch get their jobs back if it's appealled?

    July 27, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  17. tb

    Let's remember folks, homosexuals are a "minority" of choice. Anyone that is gay and in the military now, knew that DADT was in place before joining. Because it is inconvient to a few it should just be kicked to the curb? Really? I don't think so!

    July 27, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  18. Marty, Grand Rapids MI

    It is inevitable that gays will get their freedom. It's only a mater a time, hold in there.

    July 27, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  19. JP

    How about having co-ed showers in the military? Not having it is discriminating too.

    July 27, 2009 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  20. donttreadonme

    Gays only make up a tiny percentage of our forces Obama must be careful not to disrupt the masses in order to accommodate the few. Soldiers and Sailors are trained to do what they are told but I am certain that this will hurt recruitment efforts.

    Then again Obama is stripping down the military anyway so what is the difference.

    July 27, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  21. Bedtime for Obonzo

    Looks like the Upstate Sen. Gillibrand has begun her run to the left in order get those Downstate votes.

    July 27, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  22. Michael

    Al, if you would read the article you would see that it is nearly 13000 since 1993.
    Marc, for people who can't hack it in basic training they don't get in. They can get out without the dishonable discharge they would get under this policy.

    Yes don't ask, don't tell is a policy that can be easily changed but the military law that the policy is based off of is what they need to change otherwise they will still be able to kick you out for being homosexual. It is not the policy that prevents them it is the law that the policy is based off of.

    July 27, 2009 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  23. Mark C.

    "I don't run around announcing that I am Heterosexual!!"

    The difference is that a heterosexual male can talk all day long about his wife and kids and how he wants to get back to them as part of normal conversation with no one batting an eye.

    The instant a homosexual or bisexual male accidentally talks about his boyfriend in a completely appropriate manner and how he wants to get back, he's drummed out and denied benefits instantly.

    That is the problem, it's not merely "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", it's "Hide, Hope No One Ever Finds Anything".

    It's archaic and it weakens us as a nation.

    July 27, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  24. gt

    i am sure the new uniforms for presidents new army will look the like the swiss guard...... drip ,,, drip,,, drip,,, a slow but ever true falling apart of our society ,,,,, sad day ,,,,sad day ... that is not what i voted for,,,,,

    July 27, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  25. Angus McDugan

    The reall "Don't ask don't tell" is related to the media's looking the other way concerning Obama's qualifications to be president.

    July 27, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
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