May 30th, 2010
01:41 PM ET
13 years ago

'They should not have done this,' Dem says of DADT fast track

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="'I was really disappointed in - in the way that this process was accelerated,' Sen. Webb told CNN."]
Washington (CNN) – A leading Democratic voice on military affairs has criticized members of his own party for the hurried way in which congressional Democrats and the White House are pushing through the repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

President Obama, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have all stated their belief that the policy should be changed. In an effort to lay the groundwork to do away with “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” Gates and Mullen have commissioned a thorough survey of U.S. service members in order to ascertain how the force structure feels as a whole about having openly gay and lesbian members serving within their midst.

Related: Mullen on DADT review

The results of the review will not be available until December but in an apparent acknowledgement that they may not have sufficient votes to support a repeal after this November’s midterms, the White House and Democrats on Capitol Hill moved forward last week with efforts to pass a law that would repeal the policy. The House approved the provision as part of a larger defense spending bill and the Senate Armed Services Committee also approved the measure. The legislation, if passed, would not take effect until the military’s internal review is completed; it also requires the president, Gates, and Mullen to sign off on the policy change.

Notwithstanding these measures intended to defer to the Pentagon, Sen. Jim Webb, D-Virginia, still faulted the legislative moves to fast track the repeal.

“I was really disappointed in - in the way that this process was accelerated. I was the only Democrat that voted against this in committee markup,” Webb said in an interview aired Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union.

Webb, himself a Vietnam veteran and a former Secretary of the Navy, sits on the Senate Armed Forces Committee and is the Chairman of the Armed Forces Personnel Subcommittee.

“I believe we had a process in place. And to preempt it in some ways, showed a disrespect for the people in the military,” Webb told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley.

“They should not have done this,” Webb added.

Webb equivocated when asked whether he thought the move to repeal the Clinton-era policy smacked of politics in advance of this November’s midterm elections.

“There are a lot of people who feel very passionately about this. I think, you know, everyone can explain their own motivations. But for me, I just think it was a bad signal to the people in the military to do it this way.”

Webb described the votes last week on Capitol Hill as “the Congress jumping ahead of the process” set up by the Pentagon to study repealing the policy.

The Virginia Democrat was so adamant in his belief that the concerns of the military not be ignored that he refused to take a position on whether the policy ought to be repealed.

“I think we should listen to the military. We should hear from the military,” he told Crowley.

soundoff (72 Responses)

    Some ones sexual preference has nothing to do with there ability to serve their country.There has been gay men and women in the arm forces for as long as there has been arm forces.What's. the big deal how about don't ask don't care policy.

    May 30, 2010 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  2. once upon a horse

    I guess this shows that some Democrats can be just as dense as Republicans on this subject. There have always been gay men and women in the military, they just had to LIE about it for all these many years. So now that it may become legal do they think that all the gays are going to attack the straights and same gender sexual assualts are going to increase 10 fold? This is almost as bad as years ago when they did not want certain minority groups in the military..they were afraid it was going to rub off. I thought we had gotten past this frame of thinking but sadly it appears we have not.

    May 30, 2010 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  3. chris

    Poll after poll shows that a good three quarters of the population agrees with the repeal of DADT. Yet Republicans continue to oppose it. What happened to all that talk coming from the Right about "listening to the American people"? Once again, it is shown to be nothing but alot of empty rhetoric for the GOP – where they use it as a talking point when it suits them, then completely ignore it when it doesn't.

    May 30, 2010 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  4. James Baker

    I am a retired USAF Lt Col, with 22 years of active duty service, including two tours in Vietnam and I strongly disagree with Sen. Webb. It is nonsensical not to make necessary changes in policy when you finally have the votes to do so. Only a fool would wait until after mid-term elections. Especially with a policy so devoid of real purpose other than to reflect the prejudices of the past.

    May 30, 2010 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  5. Tony in Maine

    Mr. Webb is showing disrespect for the military by implying that they are not mature enough to understand that they cannot control the sexuality of others simply by puffing up like a grouse and strutting around.

    The men I served with in the 1960's understood this. Of course, they were not subject to overloads of testosterone causing them to grunt. Instead, they had to make instantaneous decisions under deplorable conditions knowing that the wrong one could result in death or injury.

    Grow up Jim – your intolerance is showing.

    May 30, 2010 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    The question posed by the interviewer showed a bias. Since recent poles show 80% of the American Public support doing away with Don't ask Don't tell, the question should have been "why are you playing politics with the issue" as apposed to the rest of your party that are following the will of the American Public?.

    May 30, 2010 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  7. Teacher

    Really, what choice do Dems have but to hurry things through. If they lose the edge in the November elections, nothing will be passed. The Repubs vote NO on everything. Maybe if the Repubs would participate in writing and passing bills, the Dems wouldn't have to hurry things. It would be nice if things could be thought through for the good of the American people and not one party acting like spoiled brats because they lost their majority.

    May 30, 2010 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  8. Michael

    Yeah, we're really rushing through this. It's only been forty-one years since Stonewall.

    May 30, 2010 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  9. Wayne

    Give me a break here.
    I am a retired Navy CPO, and worked as a Race Relations Specialist when on active duty (1975-1979). President Truman didnt need the Military's approval to desegregate the U.S. Military. And there is no reason why Congress cannot order the Military to get rid of"Dont ask,Dont tell. I can tell from over 20years on active duty, including counseling individuals who were Gay that this is not a new issue.
    Like Racism, sexual preference identity is just another form of discrimination.
    I apalled at todays military for their utter failure to carry out anti-discrimantion and sexual harassment goals set forth by the CNO and DOD in the mid 1970's. Our leadership set the example for the Nation then, and needs to get back on the ball and keep up with our own society.
    Senior Military officails need to remember they are Military Officers serving at the express permission of the Congress and President.
    The answer is easy Aye Aye I hear,understand and will obey the order.


    May 30, 2010 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  10. kd

    It doesn't really show disrespect to the military, Congressman Webb. Not at all. It doesn't change a thing in that process.

    But it shows respect for the people who elected Obama and wanted this repealed fast as he promised to do as well as the others who didn't vote for him but believe it should be repealed – 78% of American citizens.

    May 30, 2010 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  11. kd

    It does not show disrespect for the military, Congressman Webb. Not at all.

    What it does do is show respect for the majority of people who voted for Obama and expected him to fulfill his promise to repeal Don't Ask, Don't tell (a childish title and idea if ever one existed) as well as those who didn't vote for him but still believe it should be repealed – over 78% of Americans in the latest poll.

    May 30, 2010 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  12. David Wickham

    Isn't the military under civilian control? Doesn't the political leadership of the US make policy for the military? If he doesn't want gays and lesbians to be able to openly serve in the military, just say so instead of playing word games.

    May 30, 2010 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  13. Seanathair

    As a Military Retiree I agree wholeheartedly with Webbs's statement; however, he neglects to mention that every military man knows that neither house of Congress has any respect for the military.

    May 30, 2010 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  14. JoAnne Young

    Reality is that the military should not have needed a commission. This has been talked about for years. They should have ALREADY done the research. It is the military that is behind the eight ball on this, not the Democrats.

    May 30, 2010 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  15. GOP is bad for America

    I disagree. DADT should have been done away with a long time ago as it is a stupid and rather useless policy. If the Democrats can do it now, they should. There is no good reason to wait.

    May 30, 2010 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  16. jilli

    “I believe we had a process in place. And to preempt it in some ways, showed a disrespect for the people in the military,” Webb told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley.


    Mr. Webb, restricting the personal freedoms of gays and lesbians that have been serving in silence for years is showing a disrespect for the people in the military. Enacting legislation to abolish don't ask don't tell would be doing the soldiers a true service.

    A guest on ABC made a striking point. The young serving in our military have gone to school with gays/lesbians, have played sports with them, partied with them – now they join the military and being gay is taboo? That doesn't work for the younger generation – thankfully. Who said age brings wisdom, the younger generation is right on this issue – it's no big deal to them.

    May 30, 2010 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  17. Jeff in Houston

    Senator Webb: Please tell me when is the correct time to end bigotry? What measurement of time do you use to determine when an American Citizen deserves to have their rights? I'm just curious.

    Are you saying perhaps we went too fast on racial equality? Gender equality?

    Please share with us this wisdom that allows you to know how much longer it is okay for the United State Government to condone and practice bigotry?

    Such wisdom must be shared.

    May 30, 2010 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  18. Peter Q. Wolfe

    I agree with Jim Web and the fact that I am against the whole vote and I count myself as a moderate democrat. I think this social agenda against the military is decohesive and ignores the soldiers on the ground. I've not ever served and never had strong feelings of serving cause of the subservitude of the soldier in harms way hearing someone say "Get up soldier" all of the time would get annoying. However, I think our soldiers are doing a honorable job and should have their voices heard. The democrats dropped the ball out of political correctness and I don't see what is wrong with Don't Ask Dont' Tell anyways? We have to acknowledge you are homosexual all of the time to accept your lifestyle? I don't agree with this appeal at all but who am I?

    May 30, 2010 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  19. SonnyRey

    Sen. Jim Webb, D-Virginia, is exactly right – again! DADT, homo marriages, and illegal immigration are turning me against the Democratic party, after having been a faithful Dem since 1960 when my very first vote as an adult was for JFK. Actually, the Tea Party is becomming very attractive.

    May 30, 2010 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  20. larry

    if it was up to Webb the repeal would never happen

    May 30, 2010 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  21. Mike

    Since when do we need to ask the military for their permission to implement policy. Again, this is the classic case of the tail wagging the dog. The repeal should be invoked with no further discussion. The president, the commander-in-chief, and his top military advisors suggest this is the right course of action and that alone is enough to implement this action. Since when do we allow subordinates to question policy dictated by those in a higher rank.

    May 30, 2010 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  22. Kevin

    I'm a Webb supporter, but I don't agree with him on this. What is there to review? We're the only industrialized country among our allies that practice this policy. Review for what? Wrong is wrong and that law hurts the country.

    May 30, 2010 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
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