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Wheels In Motion To End Don't Ask, Don't Tell

By Marcus Gilmer in News on Feb 2, 2010 7:20PM

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After multiple promises, President Obama has finally started the process for the repeal of the controversial, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Defense Sec. Robert Gates made the call before the Senate Armed Services Committee today. Gates said that such a repeal, which will require an act of Congress, could take up to a year. In the meantime, Gates said the current policy would be enforced “in a fairer manner." But it won't be an easy road: besides deeper issues within the military - including benefits, housing, and misconduct, according to Gates - there's certainly a bipartisan element. Per the New York Times:

As the hearing opened, the committee’s chairman, Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, welcomed the abolition of the policy, saying it had never made sense to him. Its ranking Republican, Senator John McCain of Arizona, said that he was “deeply disappointed” and that the original rationale, endorsed by Congress in 1993, was as sound as ever.

On one thing, they agreed: many gay men and lesbians are serving honorably and effectively in the military today, despite a policy that has driven thousands of others out of the services. But Mr. Levin said the military should act in this matter as it has in others, as a force against discrimination. And Mr. McCain said the military culture was so different from civilian life that the rules for its members, too, must differ.

Republicans have also questioned the timing of the issue, suggesting it would be a distraction to undertake the matter while the military is involved in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.