March 3rd, 2010
01:00 PM ET
13 years ago

Senator introduces bill to repeal 'don't ask, don't tell' policy

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption=" Sen. Lieberman has introduced a bill that would officially repeal the controversial “don’t ask, don’t tell” military policy."]Washington (CNN) - U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman introduced a bill Wednesday that would officially repeal the military's controversial "don't ask, don't tell" policy regarding gay and lesbian service members.

A separate repeal bill was previously introduced in the House of Representatives.

"To exclude one group of Americans from serving in the armed forces is contrary to our fundamental principles as outlined in the Declaration of Independence," Lieberman recently said in a written statement.

It "weakens our defenses by denying our military the service of a large group of Americans who can help our cause."

The legislative push comes in the midst of a Pentagon review on how to successfully implement a repeal of the policy, which was enacted under President Bill Clinton in 1993. Top Defense Department officials will testify before the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday to discuss the review.

"Don't ask, don't tell" bars openly gay, lesbian and bisexual individuals from serving in the U.S. military, and prevents the military from asking a service member's sexual orientation. However, if the military finds out - from any source - that a service member is gay, the person can be discharged.

President Barack Obama and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen support a repeal of the policy. Some senior members of the military, however, have expressed concern over the impact of a repeal of the ban on unit cohesion and morale, among other things.

Last month, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced that the Pentagon had taken the first steps to prepare for a repeal of "don't ask, don't tell." Laying the groundwork for a repeal will take more than a year, he said. In the interim, he noted, the Defense Department will start enforcing the policy "in a fairer manner."

The defense secretary told members of the Armed Services Committee that "a guiding principle of our efforts will be to minimize disruption and polarization within the ranks, with special attention paid to those serving on the front lines."

Gates also said that the Pentagon will ask the RAND Corporation to update a study it conducted in 1993 on the impact of allowing homosexuals to serve openly in the military.

Since the "don't ask, don't tell" policy was implemented, more than 13,500 service members have been discharged, according to Rep. Jim Moran, D-Virginia. In 2009, there were 428 discharges under the policy - the lowest rate of discharge since implementation, he said. The highest year was 2001, with 1,227 discharges.

Sixty-nine percent of Americans believe openly gay people should be allowed to serve in the military, according to a February 12-15 CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll. Twenty-seven percent are opposed to such a change.

In 1994, shortly after the "don't ask, don't tell" policy was implemented, 53 percent of Americans believed openly gay people should be allowed to serve in the military, while 41 percent were opposed.

Filed under: Don't Ask Don't Tell • Joe Lieberman
soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. LacrosseMom(the real one)

    LIEberman is a shrewd man, he knows he will have a BATTLE when he is up for reelection!


    March 3, 2010 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  2. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    WOW! It sounds like he wants us to vote for him again! Courting liberals two years before his big showdown! This is what happens when Pres. Obama tells the Senate leadership to play nice with Joe. Next up – Lieberman on Dancing with the Stars!

    March 3, 2010 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  3. Kevin in Ohio

    Lets let everyone serve.... pedophiles, polygamists, and all other perversions. Its the same thing.

    March 3, 2010 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  4. Al-NY,NY

    Good job Joe. The tightie righties will continue to rail against you. I am with you on this one. There's no reason other than fear and bigotry that gay people should not serve but the GOP excels in both of those character flaws, so be it.

    March 3, 2010 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  5. gt

    how bout.. dont ask.. go back to conneticut...your a looser...

    March 3, 2010 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  6. Tulsa

    Senator McCain, who stated during the campaign that when the heads of the military think the time is right to repeal don't ask don't tell, that he would approve.
    Now, even thought he conditions he stated are met, he says "thank God there is a Congress to stop this"
    Another lie from the party of no. Typical.

    March 3, 2010 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  7. Bed time for Raygun

    Go back to your little country in the middle east moron.

    March 3, 2010 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  8. Colleen

    Okay, he's trying. I'll think about a little forgiveness, but just a little

    March 3, 2010 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  9. john in binghamton NY

    And republicans do what they do best, stall and vote NO!

    March 3, 2010 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  10. Lillie

    As a military retiree who served my country for more than 25 years, I can attest to the important contributions of gay americans serving in our military. This isn't a surprise to anyone serving so my wish is for gays and lesbians to be able to serve just like heterosexuals! And its unfair to force gays and lesbians to serve in a "don't ask – don't tell environment! Gays serving in Germany, England, the Netherlands, etc. works, and it'll work in America too!

    Change is never easy but once it happens, the military will be better for it!

    March 3, 2010 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |

    Sorry Joe ... we won't accept you latching on to a Democratic Party innitiative and claiming it as your own... this one is owned by REAL Democrats ... not people like you posturing for the next election.


    March 3, 2010 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  12. cecilia

    Congrats ole joe – you finally did something right

    March 3, 2010 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  13. The Other Michael in Houston

    When I was sitting in the desert during Desert Shield/Storm, the last thing that crossed my mind is if the guy next to me was gay! What did cross my mind was does the guy next to me know his job so we wont get our heads blown off. The anti-gay policy is a bunch of insecure, bibile thumping homophobs way of spreading their wack ideology. And what always makes me laugh is to hear these guys complain about not wanting to shower around a gay man, but let two women invite that same guy to their bedroom..........hypocrites!

    March 3, 2010 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |