The LGBT blogosphere exploded Wednesday morning with reaction to the historic Senate Armed Services hearing Tuesday during which Defense Sec. Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mullen announced their desire to repeal the discriminatory Donâ€™t Ask, Donâ€™t Tell policy, pursuant to President Obamaâ€™s State of the Union address saying he wanted to repeal DADT this year.
Retired General Colin Powell, the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who supported congressional passage of DADT in 1993, also issued a statement Wednesday saying he supported the new approach.
The reaction to the repeal has been excitement that the end of DADT seems in sight mixed with cautious pushback over why the high commanders didnâ€™t announce a suspension of enforcement while the policy is under review.
But for me â€“ a military brat whoâ€™s been covering this issue since David Mixner first raised the prospect of lifting the ban on gays serving openly with presidential candidate Bill Clinton in 1991 â€“ two developments I never thought Iâ€™d see also happened Wednesday: Mullen posted his opinion about DADT on his blog on the Joint Chiefs of Staff website (with a link to the full hearing transcript, video is coming) and the Pentagon featured a â€œstraightâ€ news report about DADT.
And here’s Rachel Maddow’s interview with Lt. Col. Fehrenbach:
Hereâ€™s the full quote from retired General Colin Powell, the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff:
â€œIn the almost seventeen years since the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ legislation was passed, attitudes and circumstances have changed. The principal issue has always been the effectiveness of the Armed Forces and order and discipline in the ranks. I strongly believe that this is a judgment to be made by the current military leadership and the Commander in Chief. It is also a judgment Congress must make. For the past two years, I have expressed the view that it was time for the law to be reviewed by 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.”
Hereâ€™s an excerpt from Mullenâ€™s Blog:
â€œMy personal belief is that allowing homosexuals to serve openly would be the right thing to do. I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens. For me, it comes down to integrity — theirs as individuals and ours as an institution.â€
Hereâ€™s some of Adam Binkâ€™s interview at Open Left with Rep. Sestak, who Bink says has overseen change in the military from the E-Ring as a Vice Admiral and is the highest-ranking military veteran currently serving in Congress.
Adam: If the Pentagon implemented the timeline that you outline, how long do you think that should take?
Rep. Sestak: I would say two to three months. Because you can do this in a nice deliberate way and still finish it in that period of time. Someone used the phrase to me, the military is always “ready”. We can do these things.â€
Hereâ€™s some of David Mixnerâ€™s reaction:
â€œWhat do they mean they have to ‘study’ for a year our impact on the military if we are allowed to serve openly? How offensive is that?
Really, come on gang, we are Americans citizens who don’t have ‘cooties’ and don’t need to be ‘studied’ to see if we will overwhelm our nation’s military with some mysterious immorality.â€
â€œWhile it is critically important that we get the implementation of a â€˜Donâ€™t Ask, Donâ€™t Tellâ€ repeal right, we at the Center for American Progress believe it is also important that we not unnecessarily delay repeal of this law. The Center has been a consistent advocate of repealing this unnecessary and counterproductive law, and we believe the Pentagon, like the 26 other countries that have ended the ban since 1993, can effectively conduct its review of the policy while Congress simultaneously works to dismantle it.”
Hereâ€™s an excerpt from Chris Johnson at DC Agenda:
“Lt. Dan Choi, a gay U.S. Army infantry soldier whoâ€™s facing discharge after publicly coming out last year, told DC Agenda after the hearing that â€œthere will be some impactâ€ by the interim changes proposed by Gates, but said itâ€™s â€œmissing the point.â€
â€œWhen you still have people that are lying about who they are, you havenâ€™t solved the root of the problem,â€ Choi said. â€œâ€˜Donâ€™t Ask, Donâ€™t Tellâ€™ is the establishment of a closeted policy, and I donâ€™t think that anybody has to be closeted in our military.â€
Chris Geidner has a good news piece at MetroWeekly including this:
â€œStill, despite the statement from Mullen — supported by a similar statement from Secretary of Defense Robert Gates — many advocates pushing for repeal of the policy left Tuesday’s hearing with more questions than answers.
No one, however, left the hearing with any doubt about Mullen’s position or sincerity.
GOProud’s executive director, Jimmy DiSalvia, was less charitable.
”Talk about a political sleight of hand. Instead, of telling us how he will repeal the discriminatory ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy, President Obama and his administration is putting together a group to study how to implement a policy the president hasn’t lifted a finger to pass,” said DiSalvia. ”It is time for this administration to walk the walk, not just talk the talk, on ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ repeal.”â€
Upon the hearing’s conclusion, Nathaniel Frank, author of Unfriendly Fire and a senior research fellow at The Palm Center, noted one of the most significant things that did not happen: ”They didn’t quite announce the announcement they announced they’d announce.”
Chuck Colbert has a full report at Keen News ServiceÂ including this:
â€œWe strongly applaud Secretary Gates supporting the Presidentâ€™s view that DADT needs to go,â€ said Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, which seeks to provide information and assistance to service members threatened or ejected by the policy. â€œWe also strongly applaud Chairman Mullen who unambiguously personally supported gays and lesbians serving openly. The top military brass of the United States just laid out a roadmap for full repeal.â€
Sarvis said his group will â€œwelcome the new direction coming out of the Pentagon over the next 45 days.â€ He said he expects that could focus on reducing the number of DADT discharges in the near future.