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Think Tank: Deep-Six Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

by Peter Cassels
Tuesday Jan 31, 2006
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – A nonpartisan research and educational institute has urged Congress to end Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the military’s ban on lesbian, gay and bisexual personnel.

Congress adopted the policy in 1993 as a compromise the Defense Department negotiated after President Bill Clinton considered issuing an executive order lifting the ban on gays in the military. Colin Powell, at the time chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, strongly objected to lifting the ban, saying it would affect morale. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell went into effect in 1994.

In a report titled “Restoring American Military Power” issued Jan. 30, the Center for American Progress called the law “counterproductive.” “While the issue of gays in the military was certainly very divisive 12 years ago, the opinions of many military personnel have evolved since then,” the report states. The think tank advises that “Congress should pass the Military Readiness Enhancement Act (H.R. 1059),” a bill introduced in March 2005 by Congressman Marty Meehan, D-Mass., to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

Lawrence Korb, an assistant secretary of defense under President Ronald Reagan and an honorary board member of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, the GLBT organization advocating for gays in the military, was one of the report’s authors.

“The center…has established itself as a forward-thinking institute dealing with issues of military readiness,” SLDN Executive Director C. Dixon Osburn said in a Jan. 30 statement. “We welcome [its] call for repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. As today’s report points out, there is ample evidence to support lifting the military’s ban. Opinions within the armed forces have changed since 1993 and the American people overwhelming support placing qualification ahead of discrimination. The time has come to revisit--and repeal--the military’s ban.”

“Restoring American Military Power” also reports that “public opinion has also decidedly turned against Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, with 79 percent of Americans today supporting a policy that allows gays to serve openly.” Other polls have found that a clear majority of conservatives, regular church goers and junior enlisted personnel all support repealing the military’s ban.

A recent survey noted in the report also found that, “Even more importantly, 76 percent of potential recruits reported that repealing the ban would have ‘no effect’ on their decision to enlist.” The military’s ban, the report concludes, “is counterproductive to military readiness,” costing the armed forces potential recruits and as much as $319.6 million in tax payer money, according to CAP.

According to the SLDN, the Center for American Progress is dedicated to promoting a strong, just and free America that ensures opportunity for all. The CAP report is available at on the Internet.

Peter Cassels is a recipient of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association’s Excellence in Journalism award. His e-mail address is


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