Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Tells Cadets Military Ready to Accept Gay Service Members
WASHINGTON, DC – Speaking at West Point on Sunday, Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told graduating cadets that Congress, and not the military, is responsible for the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law banning openly lesbian, gay and bisexual Americans from military service. Admiral Mullen’s answer came in response to a cadet’s question asking what would happen if the next administration were supportive of legislation allowing gays to serve openly.
“Admiral Mullen is to be applauded for his willingness to take part in an open national conversation about this issue, and for his open-minded approach to working with Congress as they consider the future of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’” said Aubrey Sarvis, executive director for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN). “Admiral Mullen’s remarks reflect an attitude shift among the military establishment which has historically discouraged public debate on allowing open lesbian and gay Americans to serve. As Admiral Mullen rightly points out, ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is a federal law. Ultimately repeal must come from the people’s representatives in Congress.”
During his senate confirmation hearing last year, Mullen told lawmakers that, “I really think it is for the American people to come forward, really through this body, to both debate that policy and make changes, if that's appropriate.” He went on to say that, “I'd love to have Congress make its own decisions” with respect to considering repeal.
The Military Readiness Enhancement Act (H.R. 1246), a bill to lift the ban on open service, is now supported by 142 bi-partisan lawmakers in the House of Representatives. Congresswoman Susan Davis (D-CA), chair of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel has announced her desire to hold a hearing this year on the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.
“Poll after poll show that a majority of the American people, as well as military personnel, believe ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is a counterproductive law which should be repealed. With the support and encouragement of Admiral Mullen, we hope the next Congress will act to repeal this inefficient and discriminatory law.” said Sarvis.
For more information on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and Congressional legislation to repeal the law, visit www.sldn.org