Military Leaders Say Repealing Policy Banning Gays and Lesbians from Military Service Would Be Beneficial
WASHINGTON- On the 14th anniversary of the signing of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, 28 retired, high-ranking military leaders have signed onto a letter calling for the policy's repeal. In the years since Don't Ask, Don't Tell was enacted, over 12,000 men and women have been discharged from the military under the policy. This sign-on letter marks the single largest number of Generals and Admirals from the U.S. Armed Forces to come out against the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy at one time.
We support the recent comments of former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General John Shalikashvili, who has concluded that repealing the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy would not harm, and would indeed help, our armed forces, the letter states.
The opinions of Flag Officers have played a critical role in shaping the policy on gay service. President Bill Clinton chose not to fully lift the gay ban because key military leaders opposed ending the ban. But now a significant number of General Officers are coming forward to acknowledge their opposition to the ban on open service by gay and lesbian members of the Armed Forces.
Some political leaders and academic experts said in 1993 that the military would not be ready to allow openly gay service until society and the military had developed a more tolerant attitude toward homosexuality. The statement of these 28 Generals and Admirals is evidence that these changes are occurring or have occurred already. Additionally, a December 2006 Zogby poll of soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan found that 73 percent of soldiers reported being comfortable in the presence of gays, and only 37 percent oppose repealing the policy. A May 2007 CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll showed that 79 percent of Americans believe that gays and lesbians should be allowed to serve openly in the military.
The letter will be read by two of the generals who will represent the group of 28 at a joint event sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign, Servicemembers United Cabin Republicans, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network and Liberty Education Forum to recognize the 12,000 men and women discharged from the military since the signing of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." The groups will mark the anniversary of the policy's signing by unveiling the "12,000 Flags for 12,000 Patriots" display on the National Mall. The tribute will begin on Friday, November 30 and continue through Sunday, December 2.
The New York Times has published a story about the letter. To read the story, go to http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/30/us/30military.html?hp.
Below is the full text of the letter.
We respectfully urge Congress to repeal the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. Those of us signing this letter have dedicated our lives to defending the rights of our citizens to believe whatever they wish. As General Colin Powell, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs said when the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy was enacted, it is not the place of the military or those in senior leadership to make moral judgments.
Scholarly data show that there are approximately one million gay and lesbian veterans in the United States today, as well as 65,000 gays and lesbians currently serving in our armed forces. They have served our nation honorably.
We support the recent comments of another former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General John Shalikashvili, who has concluded that repealing the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy would not harm, and would indeed help, our armed forces. As is the case in Britain, Israel, and other nations which allow gays and lesbians to serve openly, our service members are professionals who are able to work together effectively despite differences in race, gender, religion, and sexuality. Such collaboration reflects the strength and the best traditions of our democracy.
Lieutenant General Jerry Hilmes Branch: Army
Vice Admiral Harold Koenig Branch: Navy Field: Medical
Vice Admiral James Zimble, Midlothian, VA Branch: Navy Field: Medical
Major General Leslie Burger, Vancouver, WA Branch: Army Field: Medical
Major General Alexander Burgin, Salem, OR Branch: Army NG Field: Artillery
Major General Michael Conrad, McLean, VA Field: Infantry
Major General James Delk, Fair Oaks, CA Branch: Army Field: Medical
Major General Jack Farris, New Jersey Branch: Air Force Field: Aviation (pilot)
Major General Fred Forster, Tennessee Field: Aviation
Major General David Hale, Hampton Bays, NY Field: Combat
Major General Randy Jayne, McClean, VA Branch: Air NG Field: Aviation (pilot)
Major General Dennis Laich, Dublin, OH Branch: Army Field: Military Police
Major General Dennis Malcor, Vine Grove, KY Branch: Army Field: Combat
Major General Michael Scotti*, Arlington, VA Branch: Army Field: Medical
Major General Harry Sieben, Minnesota Branch: Army and Air NG
Rear Admiral William Retz Branch: Navy
Brigadier General Clara Adams-Ender, Woodbridge, VA Branch: Army Field: Medical
Brigadier General Dale Barber, Waverly, NY Branch: Army Field: Infantry Engineer
Brigadier General Harold Bowman, Pleasant Hill, IA Branch: Army NG Field Medical
Brigadier General Douglas Bradley, Diablo, CA Branch: Army Field: Medical
Brigadier General William Colvin Branch: Army NG
Brigadier General Bob Hardy Branch: Army
Brigadier General JD Johnson, Salt Lake City, UT Branch: Army
Brigadier General Phil Peay, Utah Field: Engineering
Brigadier General Robert Poirot, Evergreen, CO Branch: Army Field: Artillery
Brigadier General Philip Pushkin, Randallstown, MD Branch: Army NG
Brigadier General Donald Schenk, Troy, MI Branch: Army Field: Combat Systems
Brigadier General Daniel Wardrop, Williamsburg, VA Field: Artillery
*General Scotti passed away in September, 2007 after agreeing to sign onto this statement. His widow has requested that he remain on the statement.
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