Military Leaders Tell Congress Time Has Come To Repeal 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'
On Monday, Congressman Patrick Murphy touted a strongly worded open letter in which a dozen retired military leaders told Congress and the White House that the time has come to overturn the "discriminatory and misguided" policy known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." The signers of the letter stated that "it makes little sense" as our nation is in the midst of two wars to discharge thousands of highly trained soldiers willing to take a bullet for their country simply because of their sexual origination.
Putting the onus on Congress to act, the signers of the letter stressed that as Congress passed the law a generation ago, the duty to repeal it falls to them as well. The question is no longer "if," but "when." As Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen eloquently stated, "It comes down to integrity -- theirs as individuals and ours as an institution."
As a Captain in the 82nd Airborne Division who served in the Iraq War, Rep. Murphy has fought tirelessly to repeal a policy he believes damages national security and military readiness.
"I applaud the willingness these leaders have shown to stand up for what's right for our country, and I second their call to put an end to this policy," said Rep. Patrick Murphy. "To remove honorable, talented and patriotic troops from serving contradicts the American values our military fights for and our nation holds dear."
The text of the letter is below.
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For Immediate Release, May 24, 2010
Contact, Sara Schaumburg (202) 225-4276
May 24, 2010
The Time is Now
To Members of Congress and the White House:
In the following days, Congress will have the opportunity to overturn the discriminatory and misguided policy known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." We urge all Members of Congress to vote to end this policy which harms our national security and hurts our military readiness.
Since the policy was implemented over a decade ago we have discharged more than 13,500 brave men and woman willing to take a bullet for their country, simply because they are gay or lesbian. Among those discharged have been fighter pilots, infantry officers, Arabic translators and other specialists whose services are vital to our military's current operations. To us, it makes little sense to stop-loss one soldier while forcing out another capable, trained warrior willing to serve.
According to a May 10th Gallup poll, over 70% of Americans think this policy should be overturned. As former military leaders, we hardly need opinion polls to know that the men and women we served with are ready to make this change. Our military has a proud legacy of breaking down barriers to equality in America.
The time has come be true to our shared American values and let our troops serve openly, without fear of discrimination or reprisal. It is the right decision for our national security and our military. As Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen stated, "It comes down to integrity -- theirs as individuals and ours as an institution." Furthermore, Secretary Robert Gates has stated "the question before us is not whether the military prepares to make this change but how we must." We agree.
Secretary Gates has been directed by President Obama to conduct a review of this policy that will be completed on December 1st of 2010. We want to be clear: this review is focused on "how" the military should implement repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, not "if" it should. Whether this policy will be repealed this year is a question that can only be left to our Commander in Chief and to our elected representatives in Congress to decide. Just as Don't Ask, Don't tell was passed into law by Congress a generation ago, repeal this year is in Congress' hands as well.
We call on Congress to act now and we strongly encourage President Obama to signal his support for repeal of this misguided policy now.
BG Hugh Aiken, USMC (Ret.)
Former Maj. Mike Almy, USAF
Former Capt. Anuradha K. Bhagwati, USMC, MPP
Col. Grethe Cammermeyer, RN, PhD, USA (Ret.)
CAPT Joan Darrah, USN (Ret.)
BG Ted Vander Els, USA (Ret.)
BG Pat Foote, USA (Ret.)
Lt. Gen., Robert G. Gard , USA (Ret.)
BG Keith H. Kerr, CSMR (Ret.)
MG Dennis Laich, USAR (Ret.)
CAPT Lawrence Korb, USNR (Ret.)
MCPOCG, Vincent Patton III, USCG (Ret.)
CAPT Robert M. Rankin, USN (Ret.) MD
BG Virgil A. Richard, USA (Ret.)
RADM Ron Wilgenbusch, USN (Ret.)