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"'Don't ask, don't tell' is an unfair, outdated measure that violates the civil rights of some of our bravest, most heroic men and women," Gillibrand said in her statement.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. Dave

    Let me save the taxpayers some money. Eliminate the policy. It isn't in effect now except when specifically challenged by a gay service man or woman. People do ask, and people do tell, and people keep on serving. So... get over it.

    July 27, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  2. John

    I would think our men and women serving this country have enough to worry about, without having to worry if the guy or gal next to you is checking out your ass. Kind of make the whole friendly fire thing understandable.

    July 27, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  3. Viet.Vet

    As an ex military vet, I have worked and fought in some close quarters,had to take group showers, sleep two to a small tent, I would have been highly upset and unconfortable knowing that an openly Gay person is more interested in checking or making a move on me or another same sex person in such confines or openly walking around indicating his/her preference. If these liberal do gooders beleive that the change will go over as simple and easy as they try to make one beleive, they are living in a make beleive world. I wonder Why they want try to change having seperate quarters for men and women in the military. I guess that would be to much like right and could cause problem. "Leave don't ask, Don't tell in place".

    July 27, 2009 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  4. Peoples Voice

    Oh!! Don't tell me someone is going to try and do something about this stupid program.

    July 27, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  5. John

    "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."

    Under DADT, anybody you're in the communal showers with could be gay and could be surreptitiously checking you out. That's in the current system. With DADT. At least if they were allowed to openly serve, we could make accomodations for them.

    The trick to the logistical problems, like communal showers, sleeping quarters, etc, is to talk to the UK and Canada and Israel, our allies in the War on Terror, and find out from them how they do it.

    July 27, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  6. nea-nea

    I dont know about this Dont Ask Dont Tell but i do know That Homesexuality is Abominat unto God. Nuff said!

    July 27, 2009 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  7. MD

    I agree with Johnathan. Keep DAST. I love gay people think they should be treated fairly, but if you turn them lose with no restriction than katy bard the door. They will be like a person who lost weight. talk about in your face, my face, and our kids faces.

    However, please respect them.

    July 27, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  8. annie s

    If a gay man or woman wants to serve his country, his country should at least have the decency to allow him or her to be open about who they are.

    July 27, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  9. mark

    It will never happen, keep dreaming sisters.

    July 27, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  10. Hugo

    Who cares, let them fight! Sexual preference should be kept to one's self in public atmospheres but I do understand the apprehension of a straight person with regard to being exposed in tight quarters to something they would see as deviant sexual behavior. Why not form a gay and lesbian fighting unit, like they did in WWII with the Japanese and Blacks. If they feel inclined, they could be deployed to combat to prove their worth to America, it could give them what they are looking for, acceptance....

    July 27, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  11. chelle

    So parents "lend" their adult children to the military?? I would have thought anyone brave enough to enter the military made their own decisions – Sillly me. Give me a break. If you can deal with your child being shot at, you can deal with the fact that there are gay men and women in the military, just like there are anywhere else..... What a stupid comment.

    July 27, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  12. Diane

    There will be no problems with the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" if the men and women of the armed forces live up to the honor and respect that they are supposed to be learning in the military. There is no excuse for the prohibition of gays in the military. The policy prevents this country from doing and being at its best. We have lost too many personnel who do valuable work to this policy. It's time to let those who wish to serve their country do so with dignity and respect.

    July 27, 2009 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  13. Kevin in Ohio

    Funny how a CLINTON policy is so despised by the left. Clinton showed wisdom in making this compromise. But no, the left always wants MORE. Gimme Gimme Gimme.

    July 27, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  14. Ray ray

    Dear lord – MOST of you liberals are just idiots!

    The military CAN discriminate. Individuals become the property of the military when they join. They're told WHERE to live, WHEN to eat, WHAT job to do. Officers CAN NOT fraternize with subordinates. ADULTERY is a dischargable offense.

    This is what they sign-up for. And EVERY gay person who signed up KNEW the rules going in... so to cry about this AFTER is crap.

    The moment the president orders Gay=OK orders, I sincerely hope Joint Chiefs step down and soldiers do not re-enlist.

    If liberals want to implement "PC" policies... then let them enlist and/or their children.

    July 27, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  15. Bill Rondell

    What you will have, Gillibrand, is soldiers shooting the gays again when the government gives the green light to be open about this issue.

    July 27, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  16. Rick

    I'm surprised at the number of people who want this law repealed.

    If they strike it from the books, it goes back to the original requirement.
    That is all persons seeking to enlist must disclose their sexual orientation on the enlistment form. Anyone selecting anything other than "Heterosexual" would be automatically disqualified from service.

    The "Don't ask, don't tell" allowed Gay persons to serve so long as they didn't reveal their sexual orientation.

    So it's not a question of should it be repealed, but what law should replace it.

    July 27, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  17. Rob

    This phrase is actually Obama's mantra to everything he deals with.

    July 27, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  18. JuliaL

    Sad that a bunch of armchair Generals want to make rules for our military. Shouldn't this be an issue that is resolved by the men and women that are willing to get the job done? I find it odd that a group of people who have not served to be the people that make decisions about things they have no knowlege of. In my opinion the me/women that sleep in the trenches, eat MRE's, live their lives as apmutees or are disfigured by IEDs, and suffer through life with PTSD, should be the ones making this kind of decision. NOT a group that make desisions based on getting public approval. Sorry America... If you didn't serve. What gives you the right to tell the ones that did/do how they should live/die? I think this is a soldier, sailors, airmen, marines, coasties call...not the General Public.

    July 27, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  19. Greg

    As a still serving Veteran of nearly 30 years I say throw it out.

    July 27, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  20. Carl

    As a gay veteran, I understand both sides of the issue.

    On one hand, they're afraid that having openly gay soldiers will affect morale, such as Johnathon's example above. However, that doesn't change the fact that there are already gay soldiers serving. You just don't know who they are.

    On the other hand, the DADT causes discrimination, in the fact that straight soldiers are allowed to talk about their personal lives, their wives, their girlfriends, etc. without fear of being discharged. Gay soldiers don't have that luxury.

    My big issue with DADT is a security issue. As long as gay soldiers are required to stay in the closet, the enemy can use that to extort classified information from them. 'Give us the designs for the nuclear submarine or we go public'. National security should outweigh any other considerations.

    July 27, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  21. mr. D

    DO THESE SENATORS not have anything better to do,
    i am sure there are many other important issues they can be taking care of .

    July 27, 2009 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  22. Michiganian

    I have no problem with gays serving in the military. I do oppose any uniform being worn in a gay pride parade or any other instance not approved by the miliary. I would also oppose any accomodation made in base housing.
    I will support ending DADT but marriage will always be between a man and a woman.

    July 27, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  23. Brooklyn Democrat

    The most absurd "cut off your nose to spite your face" moment in DADT history was the firing of gay Arab linguists at a time when we didn't have many of them and needed them desperately.

    This country should be grateful to anyone who wants to serve in the military. Congress needs to get rid of DADT and it needs to do it now. We are all Americans.

    July 27, 2009 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  24. Martha

    I've been in the Army Reserve for 9 years now, and there is a lot of controversy and mixed feelings by my fellow Soldiers about getting rid of the DADT policy. Personally, it doesn't bother me what someone's sexual orientation is as long as it doesn't affect me. Just like in any situation, sexual orientation really plays no major part. Whether we are straight or gay, the same rules apply as to public display of affection while in uniform – there shouldn't be any. Getting rid of the policy is going to cause problems, keeping the policy is going to continue causing problems. This truly is a no-win situation and we have to look at all the facts and think of all possibilities before making a final decision. This is not something you just change over-night as the Gay rights groups are expecting.

    July 27, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  25. Martha

    I have been in the Army Reserve for 9 years now and there is a lot of controversy on this issue. Personally I don't care as long as it doesn't affect me in any way. Whether someone is straight or gay the same rules about public display of affection apply in uniform, there is to be none whatsoever. However, I know of several Soldiers who are willing to be discharged if the DADT is repealed. Also, it's not that simple to just change the policy, we have to look at all the pros and cons, along with the facts and possible outcomes. This is not something that is going to be changed over night as so many Gay rights groups apparently seem to think. Personally I don't care if we allow gays to serve openly in our military.

    July 27, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
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