Military Leaders Testify In Favor Of Ending Discriminatory "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Policy

February 2, 2010 12:00 am

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Defense Secretary and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Also Announce Plan to Make Short-Term Changes in Enforcement

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WASHINGTON - During an historic hearing today in the Senate Armed Services Committee, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael G. Mullen, called for an end to the discriminatory "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. The policy, passed by Congress and signed by President Clinton in 1993, states that openly lesbian and gay individuals pose "an unacceptable threat to the high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion that are the essence of military capability," and prevents gay and lesbian individuals from serving openly in the military.

Secretary Gates announced a 45-day period to review and implement improvements in enforcement practices. An act of Congress is needed to repeal the law and the American Civil Liberties strongly urges Congress to make ending "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" a priority this year.

The following can be attributed to Christopher Anders, ACLU Senior Legislative Counsel:

"Our nation's top military leaders have called for an end to 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' and Congress should answer them swiftly and with conviction. While less draconian enforcement is long overdue and welcome, it will be no substitute for Congress taking the discriminatory law entirely out of the U.S. Code. For far too long, lesbian and gay Americans have been forced to live a lie in order to serve the country. That must end. The men and women serving our country in uniform must be able to finally be treated with the dignity and fairness all Americans deserve. 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' has no place in an America that purports to value its citizens equally. All eyes are on Congress now to end this shameful policy."

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