Former President Jimmy Carter: Repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

Noting that over 25 nations have ended bans on gays in the military, former President Jimmy Carter has released a statement to Servicemembers Legal Defense Network calling on legislators to repeal the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy and allow gays and lesbians to serve openly.

Jimmy_carterSaid Carter: “It is my long-held belief that every human being deserves dignity and respect. I often heard that phrase during my years at the United States Naval Academy, I carried it out as Commander-in-Chief, and it continues to animate my human rights work around the globe today. The nation’s commitment to human rights requires that lawmakers revisit ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ the current policy that prevents lesbians, gays and bisexual from serving openly in our armed forces…’Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’’ is the only law in America today that regulates a group of citizens then prohibits them from identifying themselves and speaking up on their own behalf. Gay soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines are unable to tell their Member of Congress or their commander that the policy is an abject failure and they are living proof because they will face discharge. Those who defend our liberties and freedoms deserve better.”

Download a PDF of Carter’s statement here.


  1. Tom says

    Military/Gay Timeline:1981, “During the last week of the Carter administration, Deputy Secretary of Defense Graham Claytor issues a revision in his department’s policy to state for the first time that `homosexuality is incompatible with military service.’ Though Claytor notes that this is not officially a change in policy, the revision is designed to make clear that homosexuality is grounds for discharge. The revision is implemented by the Reagan administration.”

    Thanks Jimmeh!

  2. nycredneck says

    yeah go shove a reagan dildo up yourself. that was 30 years ago. jesus christ. i’m sure carter was working on those issues the last week of a horrible 4 years. times change, people change. yes he should have pushed for it then…that would have gone over great.

    let’s see if i can find something from 30 years ago..oh yeah…GWB drunk driving, dodging his guard duties, and doing lots of blow. oh and laura possibly killing someone with her car.

  3. Jason Young says

    I think President Carter is the most under-rated President of the past 50 years and he was the one who actually reformed a lot of the government programs that Nixon poorly implemented and that Reagan took credit for including the Iran embassy scandal. Carter did all the work but the Imams refused to allow the plane to land in Iran until the day that Reagan was inaugurated. President Carter took the job at possibly the worst time of the Presidency ever and he tried to implement long-lasting reforms and programs but the public and Congress just wouldn’t go for it. He wasn’t that much different than Clinton in all actuality both are Southern Centrists and even their foreign policy views are remarkably similar. So I don’t understand why everyone dogs Carter but praises Clinton. I think Reagan would have sucked it up from 76-80 as well. It was just a bad time to be president. I personally think both could have done much better jobs but I feel that way about every president ever except maybe the first five but even they did some stupid things although hindsight gives you 20/20 vision blah blah blah…

  4. Michael says

    It’s a stretch to blame Carter for the action of the Pentagon during the last week of his Administration, at least by only that which is written above. I doubt that he even knew about it given that he, the nation, and world were focused on trying to get the Americans released that had been imprisoned by the Iranians. Even if he did know, and approved [which he probably would have then], does not diminish the credit he deserves for his position today. By comparison, is every out gay man and woman to be vilified because they were once in the closet; might once have hated being gay?

    The policy revision was an overdue [from their perspective] consolidation of varying positions on gays between the branches and within them that by their own inconsistency were being repeatedly challenged in court.
    One of my best friends was Leonard Matlovich whose several-year suit against the Air Force had resulted in a US Circuit Court ruling a few months before ordering them to readmit him. Though our greatest legal victory to that point, the Air Force made it clear they would appeal to the Supreme Court and it was clear to all but the least rational that the Court [as it was comprised then] would rule in their favor and set a precedent that would likely be harder to overturn in the future. Therefore, Mat accepted a financial statement and fought many other battles for the gay community until his death of AIDS seven years later.

  5. says

    Nycredneck do you offer all politicians that same rose coloured rear view that you offer Carter? I doubt it. He was a mess than and he’s a mess now. ANd Leland, what someone pull the buttplug out without warning? Cranky, Cranky!

  6. RB says

    Carter was one of the worst presidents in our recent past! He was terribly indecisive and had horrible advisors…wait, many of them resurfaced to advise Clinton! On that note Jason Young you may be correct.

  7. mark m says

    Wow, the current administration is filled with incompetent self-serving narcissists (including the guy at the top) who are responsible for thousands of deaths in Iraq, corruption and scandal at every turn and one of the lowest approval ratings of any office of the President in U.S. history… and CARTER turns out to be history’s worst President? LOL!

    History is apparently subjective.

  8. Zeke says

    RB, my friend, do you care to back up your comment with some facts?

    Be careful where you get your information you might be surprised what you find. I used to think like you about Carter, but when I started getting information from non Republican sources I was amazed at how many misconceptions I had about him.

    I suspect you would do the same if you gave yourself the chance.

    History will remember Carter MUCH more kindly than G.W. or Bush I; and when the full record of Reagan is released, the shine on his star will tarnish VERY quickly. The only thing keeping him popular is conservative delusion and sealed records.

    I do take exception to the headline here however. Carter didn’t call for repeal of DADT, not even to SLDN, he called for “review” and “reconsideration”; there is a BIG difference that is more than semantic. Carter is a very smart man. If he had intended to call for repeal he would have said “repeal”.

  9. Brandon says

    Let’s assume for the moment that Carter believed that being gay was incompatible with military service. (We know Carter is a very religiius man). If he did, it makes his current statement that much more powerful. If he wasn’t “anti-gay”, his statement is still pretty amazing and helpful ammunition in overturning the ban on gays and lesbians serving.

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