The US military has begun the first steps towards an eventual repeal of its ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy barring homosexuals from serving openly.
But despite President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address last week in which he called for swift action, the Pentagon says it will take at least a year to act.
Speaking for myself and for myself only, it is my personal belief that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly would be the right thing to do,” said Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “No matter how I look at this 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.
But the Senate Armed Services Committee heard from some that having gays serve openly would undermine morale and discipline.
Republican Senator John McCain said:
‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ has been an imperfect but effective policy and, at this moment when we are asking more of our military than at any time in recent memory, we should not repeal this law.
The internal Pentagon review is expected to look at sensitive issues including how a change might affect unit cohesion, recruitment and retention, as well as the possibility of extending marriage and bereavement benefits to the partners of gay soldiers.