Colin Powell: “Review” DADT

Powel_93_sm Colin Powell—who helped craft Don't Ask, Don't Tell in 1993 (picture from that year) after thwarting President Bill Clinton in his efforts to open the military to out gay soldiers—said on CNN's State of the Union today that the policy should be reviewed, but would not say it should be repealed.

"The policy and the law that came about in 1993 I think was correct for the time. Sixteen years have now gone by, and I think a lot has changed with respect to attitudes within our country. And therefore, I think this is a policy and a law that should be reviewed."

He also seemed to dispute the notion (as interpreted from President Obama's recent remarks) that the policy exists only because of a generation gap:

"It is not just a matter of old generals who, you know, are just too high-bound. There are lots of complicated issues with respect to this, and I think all of those issues should be illuminated. And I hope that the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the commanders working with the Secretary of Defense will give this the greatest consideration and make their recommendation to the president and to the Congress."


  1. Craig says

    I’m sure there were “lots of complicated” considerations in removing the very racial barriers too, so that the good general could have a career as general and beyond, rather than spending a career wasted peeling potatoes.

    There ARE no legitimate reasons to continue this. Gay people have served proudly next to this fool, and have since the dawn of man; they will – openly or not – until the last human takes a gasping breath on this planet, too. Get over it and do the right thing for a change.

  2. ggreen says

    The Biggest “complicated” issue being FEAR. Do you really believe combat ready troops are afraid of same sex affection General Powell? Maybe its just the generals and the religious proselytizers that have infiltrated the military.

  3. ggreen says

    PS why do people take this dope seriously? He as proven him self a political opportunist at every stage in his military career. Powell is certainly no hero or statesmen, he has never held a real job in his life.

  4. Alan says

    @Craig — well said. I just have to add my [strike]two cents[/strike] rant because it pisses me off.

    What the fuck are these complicated issues that he’s two embarrassed to mention? This makes me want to bitch-slap him silly. It isn’t complicated: don’t discriminate. Don’t fire service members based on how they identify themselves or how they behave in their private lives. No one’s asking to butt-fuck in the barracks. There’s probably already plenty of that going on.

  5. JeffRob says

    Well, I’m glad the average commenter on Towleroad doesn’t speak for the gay community at large when it comes to how we feel about our allies and their specifically stated positions on us.

    Colin Powell is as respected a military leader as they come, and if he chooses to say DADT needs to “be reviewed” instead of flat-out saying it should be repealed, then sorry kids but I say the only reaction we should collectively muster is humble gratitude for taking the time out of his schedule to even consider bringing queer issues to the front of his tongue, let alone in a pro-gay way.

    Grow up and widen your scope, people. Slow down. It’s okay. We’re winning. Colin Powell is no homophobe.

  6. Joel says

    I watched that on TV. He said that he thought DADT was “appropriate at that time.”

    Well, suppose somebody said that slavery was appropriate at that time, and then we needed 100 years of appropriate segregation afterwards because there were a lot of complicated issues involved.

    Can you imagine the furor?

    The guy is a total jerk.

    And no, the total jerk does not deserve our “humble gratitude”, and I have no idea what he is doing in his “busy schedule” except getting paid to talk.

    Nice work if you can get it.

  7. says

    Gen. Rectum Powell absolutely IS a homophobe, and a willfully ignorant one at that.

    NO ONE is more responsible for defeating Clinton’s effort to gay integrate the military than Powell. He was Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the time with a higher approval rating than Clinton’s and there was no one more influential on the subject at the time.

    But even before then, in February of 1992 MONTHS BEFORE Clinton even got the Party’s nomination, Powell created the narrative that would lead to DADT when he told Congress that letting people of “the homosexual lifestyle” into the military “with heterosexuals who would prefer not to have somebody of the same sex find them sexually attractive” would be “prejudicial to good order and discipline.”

    In January of 93, after Clinton had been elected, Powell told graduates of Annapolis that he would “understand” if they resigned their commissions upon admission of gays to the services because while race was a “benign” characteristic homosexuality “goes to one of the most fundamental aspects of human behavior”…translation: “people choose to be gay and it’s an evil choice.”

    Thus, he became the couldn’t-be-a-bigot-because-he’s-black, military “hero” on which Nunn [who, ironically, had once supported arch racist George Wallace for President] launched his nuclear attack on Clinton’s effort to end the ban.

    Powell threatened to resign if Clinton issued an executive order, and, so, faced with mutiny in the military, rebellion in Congress, and betrayal by his own Secretary of Defense, Les Aspin, who went on TV in January essentially already conceding defeat, Clinton, rather than immediately issuing an executive order and then letting the Pentagon sort out how to implement it, did the latter first, ordering a six-month “cooling off period” whose only result was to give Nunn, Powell, and the American Taliban time to convince the majority of Americans that the sky would fall and Sodom would rise from its own ashes if out gays were allowed to serve.

    Powell first began playing this absurd [and phony] “review” tune last fall in a transparent indirect application for a sweet job in Barack “REPEAL” Obama’s assembling administration [he was obviously fooled, too, by Obama’s pontificating promises]. There’s no reason to believe he’s motivated by anything less self-serving now. E.g., Gates Secty. of Defense position is likely to be open sooner rather than later.

    And just weeks ago HE LIED THROUGH HIS PEARLY WHITE TEETH to Rachel Maddow claiming that neither he nor Aspin had been asked by Clinton to get rid of the gay ban in 93.

    Helloooooooooooooooooo…what the hell was all that sturm und drang about then????? He got away with suppressing evidence about the My Lai massacre, he got away with lying us into Iraq, and now he snaps his fingers and his starring role in institutionalizing government homohatred is supposed to vanish?

  8. Clay says

    Once again posters are so busy composing bitchy comments and rants that they miss the central point, which is that yet another of the central architects of DADT has publicly soured on that policy. It doesn’t matter 2 shits whether Powell loves us, hates us, or couldn’t give a fuck. What matters is that one of the key and most egregious barriers to our full equality is eroding before our eyes. Take this small victory, say “we told ya so” and use it as ammo to push for the larger victory of repeal. If you want personal affirmation, make friends, because the arena of public policy will never give it to you. Civil rights and social equality are political issues, so stop thinking about them as though you’re in relationship counselling with straight society.

  9. Terry says

    I guess enabling bigotry is a “complicated issue” to the general. Because that’s all DADT is about.

    There’s nothing to “review”. This disgusting law needs to end NOW. When countries like Uruguay and Argentina can lift their bans on gays and lesbians in their militaries, we sure as hell can, also. DADT is dangerous to our national security. We can no longer, militarily and otherwise, continue to prop up this shameful law.

  10. bozozozo says

    well, let’s not be too quick. this needs all deliberate speed. remember how the military fell apart after Truman desegregated: morale went to crap, all the whites left. And when women were let in: morale went to crap, all the males left. Let the gays in, morale will go to crap, all the heteros will leave. We’ll have a black female gay (uh, lesbian?) military. not sure that will work.

  11. David in Houston says

    “There are lots of complicated issues with respect to this…”

    No, actually there aren’t. DADT was fabricated on misinformation 15 years ago. Everyone knows that now. FOURTEEN countries allow gay people to serve openly. There are tens-of-thousands of gay people serving right now in this country. This IS a non-issue. Except for those of the older ‘generation’ such as Powell. Just as President Obama said.

  12. Sargon Bighorn says


    You know full well that once they allow Gay and Lesbian people to serve openly, the next thing that will happen is combat fatigues will come in more colors than just tan or green. Shoes will no longer be the practical yet ugly black “things” they are now. Those 65pound back packs will have extra pockets for needed cosmetics and lotions (moisturize honey). And of course those packed meals will be turned from boring pasty crap into 6 course meals that only need the slightest of attention before being served with style and panache any Gay or Lesbian service member is due.

    I’d be VERY afraid of those changes, the added cost of such changes and the resulting collapse in moral as ALL the straight service people see what bores and dullards they really are. WE CAN’T HAVE THAT. WE WON’T HAVE THAT.

  13. Craig says

    Let me understand the straight mind at work here.

    You’re scared to death that your kid will turn out to be a flaming fag after seeing a gay may in a shower. That seems to be the gist of their argument: showers.

    Now, they aren’t afraid of this same kid and this same naked homo when they showered together in junior high, high school, college, the local YMCA, or the corner gym.

    I don’t understand the logic, here. Is it the guns and showers, or are they in mortal fear of combining a uniform fetish with showering with a real live naked gay man that will instantly turn their rugged studly straight scion into a drag queen?

    If the beloved troops don’t give a damn about it, which pools show they don’t, who the hell cares what some doofus retired bigot general thinks?

    One supposes that at that rank, they have their very own private showers, so it would seem they could be made safe from turning gay, if that’s their big concern.

  14. ZnSD says

    ACTUALLY, the REAL issue is that if they remove DADT they will have to repeal DOMA: if you have married service members who are serving in the military, you can’t deny their spouses coverage: it would cause a FEDERAL problem. This is why everything is being held up: repealing DOMA isn’t popular but pressure is mounting about DADT. The smart money is on DADT for our equal protection and rights: if it’s alright for us to die for our country, then we MUST have all the other rights as well. Volunteer for or donate to SLDN.

  15. says

    I have ranted time and again that the only reason for DADT is that someone doesn’t want someone looking at them in the shower.

    Only problem is that ALL men check each other out in the showers.

    Powell is and has been a constant source of frustration for me personally.

    I’m proud that a Black man has made it so far. BUT. I have yet to see him stand up to the powers that be. He alone could have stopped thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis from being murdered, and he didn’t.

    Now this. With one speech, Powell could end DADT. The true Republicans in his party and every Dem would have to take what he says in regards to DADT as the Gospel. They just would.

    Mr. Powell, just this once, man up and do the right thing. Atone for the sins of your past and do something that might actually hurt you while helping others.

  16. steve says

    For those who say he isn’t a homophobe that is your opinion. I’ve stated mine and also feel that we need to reject the “way politics is done in America” so much waste, fraud han hypocracy. Equal rights now and if not now…WHEN?

  17. Rockfall says

    Powell’s legacy was already tarnished when he went before the UN to make the case that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. History will not be kind to those who stood against the repeal of DADT.

  18. elcamino says

    “Gradulism in theory is perpetuity in practice.”

    – William Lloyd Garrison (when asked about the freeing of slaves over a period of time)

  19. CHRISTOPHER says

    Maybe it’s me.

    As I want these different irritations put away so we as LGBT can operate fully in our country without hassle.

    I msut ask this. Why is everything a comparison to racial this, and freeing slaves that?????

    What is that all about???

  20. elcamino says

    Because those civil rights struggles and the conservative rhetoric used to oppose them are in many instances, almost precisely the same.

    How can you not know that? I mean, at this stage?

  21. NR says

    Having black and white men serving together in the military was a hotly contested issue back in the day. I hope someone has the chance to ask General Powell whether preventing integration within the military was appropriate for that time. It’s an apples-apples comparison.

  22. Paul says

    Really? This man’s opinion still matters? Please. He didn’t do the right thing when Bush was in office trying to sell the Iraq war. Are we now supposed to expect he will do the right thing regarding DADT by actively speaking against it? “It should be reviewed”.

    The guy is a true politician. A coward.

  23. says

    Somehow, 27 countries have managed to integrate their straight and gay service members with a minimum of problems. What is it about the United States that we are unable to accomplish this? Could it be religious bigotry? Maybe we should ask Canada or Israel or Uruguay or the Philippines how they did it? After all, they’ve accomplished something the US has not been able to do.

  24. billy bob says

    DADT should be repealed. In fact, we should not let fags serve at all. Women should be out to. These affirmative action babies should get the hell out. Homo’s don’t have a right to shower with straight dudes, no matter how much they argue the opposite. They’ve already ruined the Catholic Church. Do we really want these fruit-loops corrupting the service?

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