December 3rd, 2010
11:14 AM ET

Top military brass splits over 'don't ask, don't tell' repeal

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/12/03/art.servchiefs1203.jpg caption="Speaking before the Senate Armed Services Committee, the service leaders appeared concerned Friday about the possibility of a repeal imposed by the courts."]

CNN Wire Staff

Washington (CNN) - Leaders of the different branches of the U.S. armed forces gave sharply divergent answers to the Senate Armed Services Committee on Friday when asked whether the military's controversial "don't ask, don't tell" policy should be repealed, and what the consequences of a repeal might be.

They appeared united, however, in their belief that a repeal would be better handled if ordered by congressional legislation rather than a ruling from the courts.

The strongest resistance to allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly came from Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos, who warned of potentially strong repercussions in terms of unit cohesion.

"If the law is changed, successfully implementing repeal and assimilating openly homosexual Marines into the tightly woven fabric of our combat units has strong potential for disruption at the small unit level, as it will no doubt divert leadership attention away from an almost singular focus of preparing units for combat," Amos told the committee members.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey said a repeal of the policy could be implemented with a "moderate risk to our military effectiveness and the long-term health of the force."

"I believe the law should be repealed eventually," he said, but the question "is one of timing." Casey said he "would not recommend going forward at this time, given everything the Army has on its plate."

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz said he believes the law should be repealed "at some point ... perhaps 2012" but it would not be prudent to pursue "full implementation (of a repeal) in the near-term."

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead recommended a repeal of the policy, noting that 76% of sailors are either neutral or feel positively about a repeal of "don't ask, don't tell."

Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Robert Papp noted that a majority of members in his branch of the service appeared not have a problem with a repeal, but that "prudence dictates" proceeding with caution.

Gen. James Cartwright, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he believes implementation of a repeal would involve a "manageable risk with regard to military effectiveness." even in light of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

In fact, Cartwright argued, the ongoing conflicts may make a repeal of the policy easier. During a conflict, members of the military "rely on the warrior ethos" of their fellow soldiers, and lifestyle concerns are diminished.

Full story

Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow • Gay & Lesbian Issues
soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. Gregory Brooks

    I came out of the Submarine Service an RM2/SS with a Top Secret Clearance. I gave another 4 years as a Sargent in an Artillery Battery with the Connecticut National Guard. So I twice swore the oath to defend and uphold the Constitution for The United States. Gays have done the same. 10% of the population has been gay since cave days. Still it makes GREAT copy for the pulpit and the press. Gays in the military is a more important topic than how many childrens' skulls are laying in the sand, or who were the inhabitants of the cadavers in the body bags and caskets we're not allowed to see. Don't dare try to assemble to protest the evil our taxes have wrought in the New World Order. Roll with it.

    December 4, 2010 at 12:24 am |
  2. J.V.Hodgson

    I would respectfully suggest CNN that the title of this post should be TOP GENERALS SUPPORT DADT REPEAL BUT SOME QUERY TIMING.
    You could then quote the Marine top generals comments first after that.
    Bottom line however is McCain et al are not facing the reality that irrespective of a congressional repeal ( the militaries vote and people poll support nationally) DADT could be ruled Unconstitutional by SCOTUS, that latter is not the way to do this.
    In terms of the timing question this is semantic rather than substantive as the proposal says a controlled and carefully integrated implemntation plan, which could not be done if it's a SCOTUS verdict.
    Republicans seem to think the recent vote supports anything and everything Boehner and
    McConnel say on anything. If there is any chicen crap floating around its thier huffing and puffing and cockadoodudle doing in believing that!!

    December 4, 2010 at 12:06 am |
  3. kathleen young

    i cannot believe that there are still people that don't believe gays and lesbians deserve the same rights as the rest of us. it is time to repeal don't ask, don't tell so we don't lose anymore fine people like Dan Choi.

    December 3, 2010 at 7:49 pm |
  4. Howard Yocom

    I am a heterosexual and regardless of my feelings, or anyone else’s feelings for that matter, on the topic of homosexuality, whether in religion in regard to marriage, or the right of service to one’s country in a deadly far off war, the fact is that homosexuals live together, pay taxes, and serve in the military; they occupy public office, work as teachers, gardeners, police officers, scientist, soldiers (including Marines), and yes even function as American citizens (WOW); many homosexuals in these difficult times have found a semblance of peace, not only with themselves in their relationship to their country and fellow citizens, but with their god, if they have one; so, who are we to say that if they are open and honest ( a worthy attribute for any citizen) about being homosexual, they cannot, or should not enter into a relationship with their god and enter a congregation, marry, pay taxes, or even die for the country they love.
    Some of America’s citizens have forgotten that we are a country of many nationalities, faiths, cultures, and lifestyles; these people, through personal introspection, reason that if anyone dare live life different than what they deem correct, then these people must be morally wrong and should be subjugated, ostracized and refused the rights of good citizenship: This should not be.
    I hear so much about the rights of straight soldiers being violated by the homosexual who dare ask for equal treatment; yet hear so little about the homosexual who has died for love of country. Like I said, I am straight and do not walk in the homosexuals shoes; I only know all citizens should be afforded the same rights; not segregated by artificial antiquated ideology.

    December 3, 2010 at 7:32 pm |
  5. R. W. Leland

    While I have not served in the military I remain committed to the repeal of DADT. Were I given an opportunity I would like to put these questions to Sen. McCain and others who have so strongly, so urgently, and at times so stridently opposed repeal of DADT:

    1. Your arguments against repealing DADT sugest that such a repeal would undermine our military effectiveness. I assume by this that you mean the issue of sexual preference would stand between a soldier and his/her sworn duty; or put in other words that to the men and women serving in uniform, sexual preference is more urgent, more important, and takes precedende over duty. Would you have abandoned your duty in the service you rendered this nation on this account? And if not, why do you disrespectfully continue to assert that our men and women in uniform would do so? Isn't their sense of duty every bit as strong as your own?

    2. The marines have a long and proud tradition of never leaving one of their own behind. If a marine knew or suspected that he/she was serving with a gay or lesbian comrade in arms, should that marine be entitled to leave that gay/lesbian soldier behind? Doesn't a policy like DADT suggest that he/she might or worse yet, that he/she should?

    3, We ask young people to make sacrifices for the basic tenets of our democracy; we do not ask that they fight for the favored among us, but for all of us as equals in our commitment to freedom and equality. Apparently if gays and lesbians are not worthy of service and sacrifice in the military neither are they worth fighting for. So I guess we are sending troups to fight for most but not all. Are you comfortable with that?

    4. Finally, I've followed the debate in the senate and the house closely; I've watched military personnel, elected officials, religious clerics and pundits, and ordinary citizens weigh in eagerly on this debate. I have yet to hear from a gay or lesbian person in any official, on the record, capacity. Why is that?

    December 3, 2010 at 3:50 pm |
  6. Christin

    A persons sexual preference should not deter you from your duties as an officer or enlisted member of the Armed Forces. If I or anyone has the will and determination to get up and say "hey I want to fight for my country" or have people from other countries come to fight for the United States Of America, it should not matter whether you be homosexual. when and if your on the front line who will look to their left or right and ask if your homosexual I cant serve with you. Neither one of us know what one does when not on duty and if should not make a difference, if one can still uphold military standards one should be able to serve. America has more major issues to speak on than DADT,it makes me wonder should i really fight for my country its pitiful. Lcpl.Christie -USMC 08-present

    December 3, 2010 at 2:24 pm |