"Allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly would be the right thing to do."
Those were the courageous words of Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Michael Mullen during yesterday's hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee on the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) policy. Defense Secretary Robert Gates agreed with Admiral Mullen's position. As I sat at that Committee hearing, I was proud that these two top military officials are moving our nation along the path set forth by President Obama: to end the discriminatory policy that excludes gay people from serving our nation in the armed forces.
I was encouraged to hear that Secretary Gates and Chairman Mullen are studying ways to implement the repeal of DADT, including some short-term measures to lessen the law's harsh effects. As I remarked at the Committee hearing, quoting Republican Barry Goldwater, "You don't have to be straight to shoot straight." And being gay certainly shouldn't disqualify servicemembers from protecting our national security in vital positions such as fighter pilots or Arabic translators.
We must repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
Secretary Gates announced that the Pentagon will study how to implement repealing the DADT policy. But I strongly believe that a study should not unduly delay taking our last steps toward final action.
After far too long, we are finally moving in the right direction.
Even so, more than 400 service members were discharged from our armed services last year for no reason other than their sexual orientation. As we fight in two wars, it's counter-productive, dangerous, and expensive to discharge men and women who have critical skills we need to win those wars, just because they're gay.
I want the Pentagon to study implementation and transition, but the process should not be a substitute for final action.
The injustice of DADT has been going on for 16 years. With our country in two major conflicts, we need all qualified men and women to fight and win America's wars.
Coloradans embody the Western libertarian philosophy of "live and let live." And the majority of Americans favor repeal of DADT. For the sake of our national security, it's time for this discriminatory policy to end.