Thursday February 4, 2010

Colin Powell Throws Support Behind Repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

By Peter J. Smith

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 4, 2010 ( – Retired U.S. Army General Colin Powell has thrown his support behind the repeal of the Congressional ban on homosexuals serving in the armed forces and the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. The decision marks a major shift for Powell, who once strongly backed the ban and the policy as essential to maintaining troop discipline and morale.

“In the almost 17 years since the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ legislation was passed, attitudes and circumstances have changed,” Powell said in a statement released by his office. While admitting that his “principal issue has always been the effectiveness of the Armed Forces and order and discipline in the ranks,” he added that the judgment must be made by “current military leadership,” along with the president and Congress.

He added: “I fully support the new approach presented to the Senate Armed Services Committee this week by Secretary of Defense Gates and Admiral Mullen.”

Powell was instrumental in maintaining the military’s policy against homosexuals serving in the armed forces. As Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he argued forcefully against Democratic President Bill Clinton’s efforts to throw out the ban, saying that it would undermine military discipline, effectiveness, and morale. That pressure helped convince Congress to codify the ban into law.

Afterwards, Congress agreed to allow a “compromise” policy – “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” – instituted under President Clinton, in which army officials would maintain the ban, but not ask a potential recruit’s sexual orientation, and a recruit was admonished not to volunteer the information. However potential recruits or any member of the armed services who admitted to homosexuality would then not be permitted to serve, or would be discharged.

Homosexual activists have leapt upon Powell’s statement as proof that the political tides are in their favor.

“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,” said Joe Solomese, president of Human Rights Campaign, a highly-influential homosexual lobby.

Both Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen confirmed to Congress Tuesday that the U.S. military would heed President Obama’s urging in his State of the Union address, and begin evaluating how to phase out enforcement of DADT.

“No matter how I look at the issue, I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens,” Mullen told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

However a number of military officers and personnel are not happy with the plan to repeal the ban, saying that it would add stress in situations where soldiers would be placed in forced intimacy with homosexuals.

An anonymous defense official told the Washington Times that military personnel – already under the tremendous stress of fighting two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq – are discontent with the possibility of an imminent policy change.

“It was a difficult year and even more difficult to balance out a number of issues, including the wars and gay rights,” said the official. “This will be a historical change, and not everyone is happy with it.”


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