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|Military leaders to Senate Armed Services Committee: Time to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’|
|by Ryan Watkins|
|December 02, 2010 11:36|
Just two days after the Pentagon released its findings from a 10-month study on the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, the Senate Armed Services Committee hosted a hearing on the report today in Washington, D.C. The Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, testified in addition to Gen. Carter Ham, who co-chaired the Pentagon's Working Group.
Gates and Mullen both testified that Congress should act to repeal the policy during the current lame-duck session.
Gates stressed the importance of having Congress act before the courts forced a policy shift without time for the military to prepare for the change. Gates made similar statements before reporters earlier in the week.
“If the court decision were to be similar to the district court order that was handed down in October, we would have zero time to prepare,” Gates said. “That is the worst imaginable outcome as far as I’m concerned.”
Ham, for the first time, publicly stated his support for repeal. "Yes sir, I think it is time to change," the general said.
Sen. John McCain (R-Az.), the ranking Republican on the committee, led the charge in favor of keeping the current policy in place. McCain said that the time for repeal was not right due to the military’s ongoing commitment in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The debate was drawn down party lines. Democrats were largely supportive of repeal based on the recommendations of the report, while Republicans voiced concerns over a possible repeal.
Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Ct.) said that America was on the “frontlines” in a turning point with regard to LGBT-rights. "It's just wrong to discriminate against someone based on their sexual orientation," he said in his opening remarks.
"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is a stain on the military that we have a chance to remove," he added.
Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) expressed concern of re-enlistment and pressed Gates for an answer on what would happen if substantial numbers of soldiers left the military if the policy were repealed.
“If I believed that a quarter of a million people would leave the military if given the opportunity, I could have concern, but I don’t believe that,” Gates responded.
The chiefs of each individual branch of the military will testify tomorrow, Dec. 3.
Top photo: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee today (official photo)
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