For Immediate Release
Military Leaders Testify In Favor Of Ending Discriminatory "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Policy
Defense Secretary And Chairman Of The Joint Chiefs Also Announce Plan To Make Short-Term Changes In Enforcement
WASHINGTON - During
an historic hearing today in the Senate Armed Services Committee,
Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff, Admiral Michael G. Mullen, called for an end to the
discriminatory "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. The policy, passed by
Congress and signed by President Clinton in 1993, states that openly
lesbian and gay individuals pose "an unacceptable threat to the high
standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion that
are the essence of military capability," and prevents gay and lesbian
individuals from serving openly in the military.
Gates announced a 45-day period to review and implement improvements in
enforcement practices. An act of Congress is needed to repeal the law
and the American Civil Liberties strongly urges Congress to make ending
"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" a priority this year.
The following can be attributed to Christopher Anders, ACLU Senior Legislative Counsel:
"Our nation's top military leaders have called for an end to 'Don't
Ask, Don't Tell' and Congress should answer them swiftly and with
conviction. While less draconian enforcement is long overdue and
welcome, it will be no substitute for Congress taking the
discriminatory law entirely out of the U.S. Code. For far too long,
lesbian and gay Americans have been forced to live a lie in order to
serve the country. That must end. The men and women serving our country
in uniform must be able to finally be treated with the dignity and
fairness all Americans deserve. 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' has no place in
an America that purports to value its citizens equally. All eyes are on
Congress now to end this shameful policy."
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) conserves America's original civic values working in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in the United States by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.