'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Hearings: Live Updates From Washington
The Senate Armed Services committee is holding hearings for the military's controversial "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy on Thursday. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who in November urged Congress to repeal DADT, will appear before the committee. Other guests include Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen and the authors of a Pentagon study on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," which found that gays can serve openly without harming the military's fighting ability.
The Huffington Post will be bringing live updates from the hearing. Check back for the latest.
In a statement sent out by his office, Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) announced that he is supporting DADT repeal:
I have been in the military for 31 years and counting, and have served as a subordinate and as an officer. As a legislator, I have spent a significant amount of time on military issues. During my time of service, I have visited our injured troops at Walter Reed and have attended funerals of our fallen heroes. When a soldier answers the call to serve, and risks life or limb, it has never mattered to me whether they are gay or straight. My only concern has been whether their service and sacrifice is with pride and honor.
I pledged to keep an open mind about the present policy on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Having reviewed the Pentagon report, having spoken to active and retired military service members, and having discussed the matter privately with Defense Secretary Gates and others, I accept the findings of the report and support repeal based on the Secretary’s recommendations that repeal will be implemented only when the battle effectiveness of the forces is assured and proper preparations have been completed.
Today, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) -- the nation's largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization for veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan -- came out and said it supports DADT repeal. From a statement by founder and executive director Paul Rieckhoff:
IAVA shares Secretary Gates’ and Admiral Mullen’s opinion that upholding the integrity of the military as an institution is critical. All men and women who have committed their lives to service and sacrifice in our military should be treated equally. We also share the concern of military leaders that a prolonged court battle resulting from failure to repeal DADT legislatively would be damaging and disruptive to our armed forces. Allowing the courts to decide this issue could result in an overnight repeal that may not allow adequate preparation time for troops on the ground. Our military needs clear leadership and guidance on this policy to maintain the highest level of cohesion, effectiveness and readiness. That clarity can only come with legislative action now. We urge the Senate to move quickly to pass the NDAA, including the DADT provision.
In an important moment, Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) asked each service chief to go down the line and answer whether, if DADT is repealed, their branch can implement it and make it work. Every single chief answered in the affirmative.