On the 14th anniversary of the signing of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” 28 retired, high-ranking US 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 American military under the policy.
The letter marks the single largest number of Generals and Admirals from the US 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.
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,” said a media release from the Human Rights Campaign.
The letter was read out on Sunday by two of the generals who represented the group of 28 at a joint event sponsored by a number of gay rights organisations to recognise the men and women discharged from the military since the signing of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”