February 3rd, 2010
01:24 PM ET
11 years ago

Powell backs repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/02/03/art.powell0203.gi.jpg caption=" 'In the almost seventeen years since the Don't Ask, Don't Tell legislation was passed, attitudes and circumstances have changed,' Colin Powell said in a statement released Wednesday."]
Washington (CNN) – Colin Powell, the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and former Secretary of State, has come out in favor of eventually repealing the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy on gay and lesbian service members.

"In the almost seventeen years since the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' legislation was passed, attitudes and circumstances have changed," Powell said in a statement released by his office Wednesday.

Powell added that he believes the ultimate decision about the policy should be made by President Obama, the nation's commander-in-chief; the military's top brass; and Congress.

"I fully support the new approach presented to the Senate Armed Services Committee this week by Secretary of Defense Gates and Admiral Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. I will be closely following future hearings, the views of the Service Chiefs and the implementation work being done by the Department of Defense," Powell also said Wednesday.

Appearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday, Gates and Mullen said the military is preparing for a repeal of the policy.

Mullen told senators it is his "personal belief" that "allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly [in the military] would be the right thing to do."

"The question before us is not whether the military prepares to make this change, but how we best prepare for it," Defense Secretary Gates told senators Tuesday. "We have received our orders from the commander in chief and we are moving out accordingly."

The ultimate decision about repealing the policy rests with Capitol Hill. Last week during his first State of the Union address, President Obama called on Congress to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

Filed under: Colin Powell • Don't Ask Don't Tell
soundoff (62 Responses)
  1. Showtime - Tampa

    And why didn't he stand up and say this awhile ago....oh thats right!

    February 3, 2010 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  2. TCM

    Colin Powell was the recipient of Affirmative Action freebies; he'd have never made general without his race card being in the limelight. He was a terrible strategist, sold out the conservative party in favor of this questionable character OBama....

    February 3, 2010 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  3. nanbar

    I believe Senator McCain said in 2006 he would listen to the generals in charge, including Colin Powell. Now I guess that is not good enough. The Republicans have been hiding behind the military forever, now what is their excuse?

    February 3, 2010 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  4. Franky, Land of Lincoln

    I think I can understand that argument, that it is in fact the right thing to let openly gay people serve our military and fight for our country. I guess I can understand that but I don't know, I am worried of a lot of things. But will say do wanna hear the higher ranks say on this issue and based on that, I guess I can go along with it.

    And you're talking to a guy who is a virgin, I probably should be on the other side...my friend in fact doesn't give a crap, most of them don't.

    February 3, 2010 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  5. Dean

    I saw where John Mc Cain was for it before he was against it. Poor old guy is loosing it.

    February 3, 2010 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  6. dstay

    Colin Powell would support anything this socialist president would offer to shove down our throats just because of his skin color. What a surprise!

    February 3, 2010 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  7. Thomas

    "Powell added that he believes the ultimate decision about the policy should be made by President Obama, the nation's commander-in-chief; the military's top brass; and Congress."

    No, Mr. Powell. It is up to the congress. Article 1 section 8 of the Constitution. The military "brass' can only offer their opinions, but the final decision is up to congress.

    February 3, 2010 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  8. C. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    If they can't be in our military, then they should join the military of Israel who respect their rights.

    February 3, 2010 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  9. talmag

    The policy is outdated and unfair. We cannot ask people to risk their lives to fight for our country but take away their freedom to be what they truly are. We are asking them to hide in the "military closet". just to keep peace. We are fighting for freedom all over the world and yet we ask our people to lie about their sexual preferences .....a country which professes freedom of choice in all aspects of life. This is one of those aspects......it is shameful and wrong and I am of the older generation and can see the negativity of it.

    February 3, 2010 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  10. Tim

    What, separate barracks and showers for openly gay people? If not, then community barracks and showers for all.

    February 3, 2010 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  11. Dieter Zerressen

    Wait for it. McCain will now denounce Powell. Whever happened to "listen to the Generals". They forgot to add, "when the General's happen to agree with you, otherwise through them under the bus too".

    February 3, 2010 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  12. ken sanders

    Colin Powell is my guy. Very very classy. He had to stand in there and take the heat for those war-mongers Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld when their motives were exposed.

    February 3, 2010 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  13. D.D.

    Secretary of State Powell moves forward as Senator Mc Cain back tracks on his past belief. Everyone is all stirred up under President Obama. They just can't be as supportive if you are going to run for anything- fear rather stand.

    February 3, 2010 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  14. Jimmy James

    I support gay rights. I believe they deserve all the rights everyone else has. That being said, I am a veteran. I wonder why sexual preference is so important? I mean the logistics in this is huge. Men and women ( not married) can't be housed together. How will this be dealt with? My other concern is activists joining the military just to cause trouble and demand more thus making them a group that gets special treatment through laws and such ( see hate crime laws ). When rules are made to cater to one group you then discriminate against another group. Nobody asks people who aren't gay their sexual preference? See my point. What you choose to do in your bedroom has no bearing on your ability to perform a job or the commitment to that job. I just don't understand why this is a issue at all. Don't ask and don't tell should be the rule but no action should be taken to discipline. Who cares what you do in your bedroom.

    February 3, 2010 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  15. NFL1

    If anyone should know the effect this would have on troops it is Powell. He's served for longer than most in many different positions and levels of the military. If someone who is not a newcomer, and thus more likely to hold discriminatory views about gays in the military, thinks that it's time – then it IS.

    I always respected Powell, and was sorry that his centrist positions got him kicked out of the Bush White House. He was the only GOOD thing going in it!

    February 3, 2010 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  16. WHO CARES?!

    Listen well, Colin Powell, as you would've confronted same problems Obama is confronting, WITHOUT being able to find the real Solutions not only he, but many inside AND outside The Democratic Party (AND you are one of them!) PROMISED to people, not only Afro Americans – and I use the word out of respect for you(rs), not Obama – who VOTED Democrats ALL THEIR LIVES WITHOUT EVER GETTING WHAT THEY VOTED FOR!! Understand me very well: it's not just that a Democratic Party TOO has to DELIVER to ALL its voters, not just some, but at the same time it's ALSO a BASIC RIGHT of anyone to HAVE his/her rights not only fully respected, but also fully implemented in laws! And THAT is one of the MANY THINGS Obama (neither) is delivering! Obama as US-President ISN'T much different – if any – from previous ones. What for did all those voters voted for? I think you UNDERSTAND that THAT IS A PROBLEM and one that ISN'T going to go away IF it is not DEALT WITH! And it can only be addressed in ONE WAY: Give to Anyone that what's his/hers WITHOUT even pretending it's something demanding anything from anyonme in return! People are not DEMANDING you TO SELL them something! They are DEMANDING their HUMAN RIGHTS! SO, GIVE IT ALL TO THEM AND DO THAT WITHOUT COMPLAINING!! THEN you'll SEE how YOUR LIFE in United States is going to change!

    February 3, 2010 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  17. A. Goodwin

    I'm sure the looney RIGHT will tell everyone that Powell should leave the Republican party. Unfortunately, he WAS the Republican party for a long time and deserves respect! Unlike Cheney and the rest of his cronies, Powell knows a little bit of something about going to war..being a good soldier, and loving our country!

    I am a proud DEMOCRAT who happens to think Powell is awesome. If he were to run for president, I'd back him in a heartbeat.

    I am so happy for gay and lesbians of our Nation to win this one. We finally took a few steps forward to equality on this one!! Yay.

    February 3, 2010 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  18. Albert R., L.A., CA

    The fight for an integrated military has been an uphill battle since the beginning of our nation. Today our combat forces, integrated by race, sex and religious beliefs, have become a stronger diplomatic symbol to the world that America is committed to defending God given natural human rights because we respect the right of humans to defend their rights on the battle field against those who would take them away. But now, as our Supreme Court grants human rights of free speech to global corporations, who will never volunteer for military service, to interfere in lawmaking and elections, Republicans debate whether humans who happen to be born gay or lesbian, can defend those rights. Republicans are out of touch with the reality of what human rights are.

    February 3, 2010 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  19. gt

    no surprise ,,, he..loves obama ,,,

    February 3, 2010 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  20. This is throwing a crumb to gays........

    Marriage rights is what it is all about and you've got a President who is adamantly against gay marriage............which is pretty funny considering that Obama. being part of a minority, would deny rights to another minority.....

    Obama is the problem for gays........

    February 3, 2010 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  21. Marc

    They want to serve. But to serve they have to lie. If they tell the truth, no matter how qualified they are, they are expelled.
    John McCain calls it 'successfull policy'.
    Mr. McCain I really believe that such a paradoxal and based in lies attitude cannot be upheld by the military anymore. It shouldn't have from the start actually.
    As for the blatant ridiculous argument that 'allowing gays to serve openly would cause a decrease in the moral of the military straight men and women' (or something like that), just check the facts boys and girls.
    There IS a crisis right now within the military forces, the numbers of sexual assaults or 'misconducts' has just skyrocketed the past 10 years. Either you are denying the problem RIGHT NOW or is just giving some time to put the blame of it on DADT's end.

    February 3, 2010 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  22. Meka


    February 3, 2010 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  23. Wanda in Montana

    Keep it up General Powell and maybe we'll eventually forget the presentation to the UN about Iraq's WMD stockpiles.

    This is a good step, but you've got a long journey left before I'm convinced you're really one of the good guys.

    February 3, 2010 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  24. notfooledbydistractions

    Smart man. Time for the archiac policy to go.

    February 3, 2010 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  25. Scott, Tucson

    Foxhole buddies would have a whole new meaning now I guess.

    February 3, 2010 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
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