Congressman Jim Matheson said today he is voting for an amendment repealing the military's "Don't ask, don't tell" policy that prohibits military service by openly gay men and women. The repeal would take effect only after the President transmits a written certification signed by the President, Defense Secretary and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff stating that ending the ban would not harm the military.
Matheson supported a similar amendment to a defense spending bill last spring. Since that time, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen released results of a Pentagon study concluding that--if implemented correctly--repeal of the policy would not harm military readiness. That 9-month study included a survey of military personnel. 70% of those surveyed believe a change in the law would have either a positive, mixed or no effect on morale or readiness.
"Anyone who is willing to put on the uniform of America 's armed forces and put his or her life on the line to protect our freedoms deserves respect for their commitment to our nation," said Matheson.
Matheson notes that along with Gates and Mullen, supporters of repealing the ban include General Colin Powell--who implemented the "don't ask, don't tell" policy in the 1990s-- and former Georgia Senator Sam Nunn, who opposed gays serving in the military as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee in the 1990s.