Will Obama end Don't Ask Don't Tell?
The end of Don't Ask, Don't Tell?
Posted: 06:15 PM ET
From CNN's Jamie McIntyre and Laurie Ure
WASHINGTON (CNN) – The lead sponsor of a bill to overturn the controversial Don't Ask, Don't Tell law said the law could conceivably be passed in the first year of President-elect Obama's administration.
President-elect Barack Obama has pledged to lift the ban on gays serving openly in the U.S. military.
A transition office spokesman refused to comment for this story but two months ago, Obama signaled he would move cautiously, telling the Philadelphia Gay News newspaper he would first get the military on board:
"Although I have consistently said I would repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell, I believe that the way to do it is to make sure that we are working through processes, getting the Joint Chiefs of Staff clear in terms of what our priorities are going to be," he said.
A bill to replace "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", with a policy of nondiscrimination, has 149 co-sponsors in the house, including California's Ellen Tauscher, a Democrat. Tauscher said with new administration, the timing is right to try and pass the bill.
"The key here is to get bills that pass the House and the Senate, that we can get to president-elect Obama to sign, and I think that we can do that, certainly the first year of the administration," Tauscher said in an interview with CNN.
Gay rights advocates say it's important for the new President to avoid the ham-fisted attempt President Clinton tried in 1993, when he naively promised to lift the ban by executive order.
That roiled the Pentagon brass — including then-Joint Chiefs Chairman Colin Powell — and provoked a fierce backlash from conservatives in Congress.
As a result Congress stripped President Clinton of his power to change the policy and forced him to accept the Don't Ask Don't Tell compromise — a law that can only be repealed by Congress.
But after 15 years and four wars, attitudes in the Pentagon — and among the public — have changed dramatically.
A Washington Post-ABC news poll this summer found 75 percent of Americans support allowing gays to serve openly, compared to only 45 percent back in 1993.
More than 100 retired U.S. military leaders — including the former head of the Naval Academy — have signed a statement calling for an end to the military's "don't ask-don't tell" policy, according to a California-based think tank that supports the movement.
Retired Admiral Charles Larson, the former Naval Academy superintendent, tops the list of 104 retired general and admirals who want the government to repeal the policy, the Palm Center at the University of California, Santa Barbara, announced Monday.
Yes, but I agree he has to be careful about it...
Let's hope so :up:
I also think this might be encouraging to gay marriage supporters. From 45% to 75% in 15 years is a huge swing, and I foresee a similar swing in support for gay marriage. The military has always been a sacred cow of sorts, just like "traditional marriage" is to many people. It's going to happen, and within a few years people will wonder what the hell was the big deal.
and after it happens, we'll get conservatives telling us how, really, all along, they were for the repeal of DADT just like a "true" conservative would have been for the integration of the armed forces before 1945.
sorry, cranky today.
I was hazed for 2 years, gay sailor says
Navy re-examines its handling of case after ex-dog handler suffers PTSD
The Associated Press
updated 9:42 a.m. ET, Wed., Sept . 23, 2009
ANNAPOLIS, Maryland - The Navy is reviewing how it handled the case of a gay sailor abused by fellow servicemen in Bahrain for two years until he sought a discharge by coming out to his commanding officer, a military spokesman said Tuesday.
Joseph Rocha, now 23, decided to leave the Navy in 2007 by telling his commander he was gay, in violation of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy. He has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder from the constant hazing while he served with military dog handlers based in Bahrain to support the Iraq war.
An internal Navy investigation into his unit found dozens of examples of hazing and sexual harassment against multiple sailors between 2005 and 2006. The result of the investigation was not clear; a copy of the report released under the Freedom of Information Act has all recommendations blacked out.
Now, a congressman who is a former admiral has asked the Navy for information about the harassment, the service's internal investigation, and an explanation as to why the head of the military working dog unit at the time was promoted.
The Sept. 11 letter from Democratic Rep. Joe Sestak to Navy Secretary Raymond Mabus followed a story about the Navy findings of abuse that was first reported by a California news organization earlier this month.
"Without a question, it heightens and makes more salient this issue," said Sestak. "It highlights the loss of another good individual."
A Navy spokesman said the case and its outcomes are being reviewed.
"The incidents that occurred within the Military Working Dog Division at Naval Support Activity Bahrain do not reflect who we are as a Navy," said Cmdr. Cappy Surette, a Navy spokesman. "The Navy is now looking into the handling of this situation more carefully."
The Chief of Naval Operations directed Commander Navy Installations Command on Tuesday to review the actions taken after the earlier investigation and report back on Oct. 6.
"CNIC may use information from the ongoing review by Commander, Navy Region Europe, Africa, Southwest Asia, who has previously directed his staff to review the outcomes of the JAGMAN investigation," Surette said. "Any subsequent action will be informed by the CNIC review."
Opponents of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy say Rocha was trapped: he couldn't report the abuse because that could reveal his sexual orientation. They say the policy also played a role in the abuse: Others in the unit repeatedly asked Rocha if he was gay — a violation of the "don't ask" provision — because he would not avail himself of prostitutes who visited their quarters. And, in the end, Rocha's PTSD prompted him to tell the Navy he is gay, resulting in his expulsion.
Sestak also is requesting information regarding Chief Petty Officer Michael Toussaint, who was responsible for the unit and was later promoted to senior chief.
"It would astound me if he was promoted if these allegations are true," Sestak said in an interview. "What kind of a command climate is that?"
Toussaint has been deployed. His location could not be released and he could not be reached for comment, said Cmdr. Greg Giesen, a Navy spokesman.
Shaun Hogan of Maine, a former Bahrain colleague of Rocha's who is now a reservist, said Rocha was treated worse than others who were hazed because Rocha was believed to be gay. Hogan said some in the unit "blatantly asked" if Rocha was gay. It was Hogan who obtained the Navy's report and shared it with Youth Radio, an Oakland, California, news organization that broke the story.
"He was one in a large number of people who were abused for a variety of different reasons," Hogan said.
Rocha graduated at the top of his class in military police training school in Texas. He received favorable performance evaluations throughout his career, Sestak noted in his letter.
But within a month of his arrival in Bahrain in 2005 to join the handlers and their dogs in seeking out hidden explosives, Rocha said he found an abusive atmosphere in which he was hazed repeatedly, even though he never spoke of his sexual orientation.
"What made my rite of passage different is that I refused to have sex with prostitutes," Rocha said. "In doing so, I gave them reason enough for them to think I was gay and they took it upon themselves to punish me for it for two years."
Aaron Belkin, who studies the "don't ask, don't tell" policy as director of the Palm Center at the University of California at Santa Barbara, said while Rocha's case is extreme, the harsh treatment is not an isolated incident.
"Research shows that you can't prevent anti-gay abuse as long as discrimination remains official policy," Belkin said.
Some Democratic lawmakers are pushing legislation to repeal the 1993 law. President Barack Obama pledged as a candidate to end the ban, but has not done so.
Rocha said he enlisted in the Navy in 2004 to demonstrate his commitment to earning an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy after he wasn't admitted to the school.
In June 2007, he was accepted at the academy prep school in Newport, Rhode Island, where candidates can build the academic skills they need to be accepted to the four-year academy. While there, Rocha said depression resulting from his experience in Bahrain made him decide to tell school officials he was gay. He was isolated from other students for two months, then honorably discharged in October 2007.
"I was faced with the idea of being in a navy that condoned this for another decade," Rocha said. "I wouldn't have allowed myself to live like that anymore."
A letter from Rocha's doctor at the Department of Veterans Affairs in San Francisco confirms that he has been diagnosed with PTSD.
Rocha, now a student at the University of San Diego, hopes he can one day return to serve openly in the military as a Marine Corps officer.
"I'm just waiting for the policy to be repealed," Rocha said.
Top military officer: Gays should serve
Admiral Mullen says he is deeply troubled by ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy
NBC News and news services
updated 1:34 p.m. ET, Tues., Feb. 2, 2010
WASHINGTON - The military's top uniformed officer declared Tuesday that gays should be allowed to serve openly in uniform, arguing that it is "the right thing to do."
It was the strongest statement yet from the Pentagon on this volatile issue.
Adm. Mike Mullen told the Senate Armed Services Committee he is deeply troubled by a policy that forces people to "lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens."
Mullen said he knows many will disagree about abandoning the "don't ask, don't tell" policy and said there are practical obstacles to lifting the 1993 ban. But he said he thinks the military can handle it. Mullen is chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and chief military adviser to President Barack Obama.
Before Mullen's statement, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he is tapping his chief legal adviser and a four-star Army general to lead a landmark study on how the military would lift its ban on openly gay service members.
Pentagon General Counsel Jeh Johnson and Gen. Carter Ham, who leads Army forces in Europe, will conduct the yearlong assessment.
Gates' announcement marks a measured step toward Obama's goal of eliminating the military's policy against gays, which is based on a 1993 law. Ham is a former enlisted infantryman who rose to command troops in northern Iraq. Johnson played an integral role in the effort to close the military prison in Guantanamo Bay.
The yearlong study could pave the way for the biggest social change to the military since the 1948 executive order for the racial integration of units.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said at the hearing that he opposed any changes to the existing policy, declaring that the military has "been working well" without openly-gay service.
"'Don't ask, don't tell' has been an imperfect but effective policy," said McCain, the top Republican on the Armed Services Committee. "And at this moment, when we are asking more of our military than at any time in recent memory, we should not repeal this law."
His remarks were in direct contrast to Mullen.
A more lenient standard
Gates and Mullen are to outline a more lenient standard for enforcing the current ban while the yearlong study is completed. The interim policy would make it harder for a third party to turn in a gay service member and would raise the standard for evidence that the service member is gay before the person could be dismissed.
Under the 1993 law, engaging in homosexual conduct — even you don't tell anyone — can been enough to qualify a person for dismissal.
The law was intended as a compromise between then-President Bill Clinton, who wanted to lift the military's ban on gays entirely, and a reluctant Congress and military that said doing so would threaten order.
According to figures released Monday, the Defense Department last year dismissed the fewest number of service members for violating its the policy than it had in more than a decade. Overall, more than 10,900 troops have been fired under the policy. The 2009 figure — 428 — was dramatically lower than the 2008 total of 619.
End of a dream
David Hall, a former Air Force sergeant, said he was discharged in 2002 after someone else reported that he was gay.
"That ended it," said Hall, who now works for a gay rights advocacy group. "Just like that, based off what one person said, ended my dream of getting to fly planes."
effective at what?
anyway, my guess is that Obama will slowly hollow out the policy. he's not going to do anything dramatic that will send shockwaves of gay panic up anyone's leg. but seeing as how DADT discharges have dropped dramatically in the past year (and had been declining for the past 10 years), a suspension-and-study of the policy is going to effectively render it meaningless, and then it will be quietly done away with.
props to Mullen. he also said that DADT violated the "integrity" of the US Armed Forces.
he's absolutely right.
well, Gates is the SecDef, so i suppose the leadership of the military has said that we ought to change the policy.
of course, it was Truman who desegregated the armed forces in 1948, and not the generals, but, you know, racism is wrong and stuff.
It was quite a shame. I remember saying before the nominations that McCain would be the most reasonable choice for the GOP. At the time, he was. The transformation from November 2007 to November 2008 was unbelievably sad.
you almost start to feel sorry for Grandpa Walnuts by the end:
YouTube - Cranky McCain Chastises Mullen And Gates For Expressing Opinion On DADT Before Consulting Him
he thinks he has a shot for the 2012 GOP nomination
a boy can dream, can't he?
Seventy is the new sixty, as Arnold Vinick might have said. But no, he doesn't have a shot.
Don't have a problem with gay men or lesbians.
It's just those god damn homeosexuals.
Support for Gays in the Military Depends on the Question -
gay men and lesbians are terms that represent 'others' that are apart form me
homosexuals might try to have sex with me
No, I get the difference in how the language is perceived, I just don't get the changes in numbers...
Why is "strongly favor" the opposite of the other numbers?
homosexuals get 59% in favor and 29% opposed
gay men and lesbians get 70% in favor and 19% opposed
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