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.”
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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.
[9:08 a.m. - 2/12/2010] – Source: Defense Officials To Declare “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Policy Shift
From the Washington Post:
President Obama’s top defense officials will tell the Senate on Tuesday that the military will no longer aggressively pursue disciplinary action against gay service members whose orientation is revealed against their will by third parties, sources say.
In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Michael Mullen also are expected to announce the creation of a group to assess how to carry out a full repeal of the decades-old “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which requires gay soldiers to keep their sexual orientation secret.
But Gates and Mullen are also expected to tell senators that it could take years to integrate gay men and lesbians fully into the military, defense officials said. Two appointees will be named to oversee a group that will draw up plans for integrating the armed forces, according to sources familiar with the Pentagon’s deliberations on the subject. The planning effort is expected to take up to a year.
Among the issues to be addressed by the group: whether gay soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines will face any restrictions on exhibiting their sexual orientation on the job; whether the Pentagon will be obligated to provide for their domestic partners; and whether straight military personnel could be compelled to share quarters with gays.