In early February, the effort to repeal the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law, which discriminates against gay and lesbian military personnel, received endorsement from General Colin Powell, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Gen. Powell’s announcement of his support for repealing the law concurs with current Joint Chiefs chairman Admiral Mike Mullen. On February 2, Admiral Mullen became the first Joint Chiefs chairman to support the repeal since Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell became law back in 1993.
Gen. Powell supported Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell passage back in 1993, but “attitudes and circumstances have changed,” Gen. Powell stated, explaining his reversal on the policy. “The principal issue has always been the effectiveness of the Armed Forces, and order and discipline in the ranks.”
Following Gen. Powell’s announcement, Human Rights Campaign president Joe Solmonese pointed out that opposing repeal now means second-guessing some of the nation’s top military leaders.
“I want to ask the senators and members who are speaking out against this repeal—what do you know about military effectiveness that General Powell, Secretary Gates, Admiral Mullen, and the Commander in Chief don’t know? The truth is that there are no more excuses. The death knell for Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell has been rung, and now is the moment to send this law into the history books where it belongs.”
Gen. Powell’s announcement came within days of President Barack Obama’s 2010 State of the Union address, in which the president stated: “This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are.”
“We strongly applaud Sec. Gates supporting the president’s view that DADT needs to go. It’s a matter of when and how, not if,” said Aubrey Sarvis, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network’s executive director. “We also strongly applaud Chairman Mullen, who unambiguously personally supported gays and lesbians serving openly. The top military brass of the United States just laid out a roadmap for full repeal.” —Nancy Ford