Congressional Hearing on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Highlights Failed Law

Hearing Occurs as New Poll Shows Growing Republican Support for Repeal

July 23, 2008 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Blogger Tumblr

(Washington, DC) - 15 years after President Bill Clinton signed the law banning openly gay and lesbian Americans from serving in the military known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," Congress is prepared to revisit the issue. On Wednesday, the House Military Personnel Subcommittee will hold a hearing on the discriminatory and harmful "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

"This day is long overdue and we thank Congress for taking the first steps at evaluating a law that is clearly harming our national security," said Log Cabin Republicans President Patrick Sammon. "This policy has prevented patriotic and capable Americans from serving our country. At a time when our military is stretched thin, this law is outdated and un-American."

"Competence, ability, dedication and commitment to country should dictate one's eligibility for military service-not sexual orientation," said Congressman Christopher Shays (R-CT), the lead Republican cosponsor of legislation to end "Don't Ask, Don't Tell". "What matters is a person's conduct in service to their country."

"I also do not believe an individual's sexual orientation has any bearing on his or her ability to act in a professional manner consistent with the requirements and regulations of our Armed Services," Shays continued. "I am grateful to stand with Log Cabin Republicans and my fellow members of Congress in calling for the end of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'."

The House Military Personnel Subcommittee hearing comes on the heels of a new Washington Post/ABC News poll showing an overwhelming 75% of Americans support allowing openly gay and lesbian Americans to serve. The poll also shows support for repeal among Republicans has doubled from 32% to 64% in the last 15 years.

"Republicans across the country realize 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' is harming our nation's ability to fight the global war on terror," said Sammon. "It is time to revisit this issue and put the security of our armed forces and our country above politics."

More than 12,000 Americans have been discharged since the inception of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," including many service members with valuable skills necessary to fight and win the war on terror.

"Since the policy was announced 15 years ago, thousands of talented men and women, some with critically important skills, have been drummed out of military service," Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and a co-sponsor of legislation to end "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," recently said in a statement.

"We've wasted a great deal of time and effort trying to enforce this failed policy," said Ros-Lehtinen. "At a time when our armed forces are under unprecedented strain, we should welcome all those, regardless of sexual orientation, who ask nothing more than to serve their country."

Log Cabin is working with allies to gain Republican support for the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, legislation that would replace the failed "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" with a non-discrimination policy allowing gay and lesbian Americans to serve openly and honestly in our nation's military.