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Military Leaders Call for Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal in Senate Hearing

Top US military leaders announced a year-long review of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” during a Senate armed services committee hearing yesterday. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has also ordered a 45 day review period. During this period, the issue of discharges resulting from third parties outing military personnel will be considered, reported the Christian Science Monitor. Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified during the hearing, “No matter how I look at the issue, 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,” according to the New York Times. In his testimony, Senator Carl Levin (D-MI), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, referred to a recent Gallup poll in which 69 percent of respondents believe that gay and lesbian military should be able to serve openly, reported the Christian Science Monitor. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) was among those who spoke against the repeal of the policy. He said, “at this moment of immense hardship for our armed services, we should not be seeking to overturn the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy,” according to the Washington Post. This is an apparent reversal of McCain’s position on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” In 2006, he stated that “the day that the leadership of the military comes to me and says, ‘Senator, we ought to change the policy,’ then I think we ought to consider seriously changing it.” President Obama announced a promise to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” during his State of the Union Address last week. He said, “this year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are.” The policy was instituted by former President Bill Clinton in 1993 and prohibits the military from inquiring about a service member’s sexual orientation, but also calls for the discharge of anyone who acknowledges being lesbian or gay. Thus far, the policy has led to the expulsion of about 13,000 troops.

Sources:

Feminist Newswire 1/28/2010; The New York Times 2/2/2010; The Christian Science Monitor 2/2/2010; Washington Post 2/3/10

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