Legislation & Lobbying

'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Policy Questioned

Although there hasn’t been any express change in the controversial “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy concerning gays and lesbians serving in the U.S. military, changing societal attitudes may be promoting at least a subtle shift in the way it is applied.

A firestorm of criticism following a recent comment by the outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Gen. Peter Pace, that allowing gays to serve openly would condone “immoral behavior,” has prompted a number of mainstay Republican lawmakers to think that it may be time for a change in the policy, reports the Los Angeles Times. And, in a more tolerant approach, the incoming chairman, Navy Adm. Michael G. Mullen, says he supports the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy but is open to having Congress change it.

Meanwhile, some 500 openly gay and lesbian members of the military are serving without objection, according to Steve Ralls, a spokesman for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. The nonprofit represents military personnel affected by the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

“So far, no legislation that would lift the ban exists in the Senate, but a House bill has been slowly gaining support,” reports the Times. “Last week, it gained an important co-sponsor in Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.), a retired Navy vice admiral.”

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