Don't Ask, Don't Tell | John Shalikashvili | Kirsten Gillibrand | Military | News

Former Joint Chiefs Chair Shalikashvili Repeats Call for End to DADT

Repeating much of the sentiment expressed in a January 2007 New York Times op-ed piece, Former General and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff John Shalikashvili today released a statement through Senator Kirsten Gillibrand's (D-NY) office calling for the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell".

Joint Says Shalikashvili:  “Studies have shown that three-quarters of service members say they are personally comfortable around gays and lesbians. Two-thirds say they already know or suspect gay people in their units. This raises important questions about the assertion that openly gay service would impair the military. In fact, it shows that gays and lesbians in the military have already been accepted by the average soldier. Additionally, at least twenty-five foreign militaries now let gays serve openly, including our closest ally, Britain. Although we lead rather than follow these militaries, there is no evidence suggesting that our troops cannot effectively carry out the same policy change as those nations did...As a nation built on the principal of equality, we should recognize and welcome change that will build a stronger more cohesive military. It is time to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell” and allow our military leaders to create policy that holds our service members to a single standard of conduct and discipline."

Added Gillibrand: “The military’s ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy is an unjust, outdated and harmful rule that violates the civil rights of some of our bravest, most heroic men and women. I’ve been working with my colleagues in Congress and other leaders to overturn this wasteful and destructive policy. I am hopeful that President Obama will make this a top priority.”

Read Shalikashvili's full statement, AFTER THE JUMP...

STATEMENT FROM GEN. SHALIKASHVILI:

"Thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts about the Policy Concerning Homosexuality in the Armed Forces. When I was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, my support of the current policy was based on my belief that implementing a change in the rules would have been too burdensome for our troops and commanders at the time.

“The concern among many at that time, was that letting people who were openly gay serve would lower morale, harm recruitment and undermine unit cohesion. “Don’t ask, don’t tell” was seen as a useful measure that allowed time to pass while our culture continued to evolve. The question before us now is whether enough time has gone by to give this policy serious reconsideration. I believe that it has.

“Recently, Army Secretary John McHugh said that “The Army has a big history of taking on similar issues [with]…predictions of doom and gloom that did not play out.” His conclusion echoes substantial scholarly and official military research which finds that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly would not jeopardize readiness.

“Studies have shown that three-quarters of service members say they are personally comfortable around gays and lesbians. Two-thirds say they already know or suspect gay people in their units. This raises important questions about the assertion that openly gay service would impair the military. In fact, it shows that gays and lesbians in the military have already been accepted by the average soldier.

“Additionally, at least twenty-five foreign militaries now let gays serve openly, including our closest ally, Britain. Although we lead rather than follow these militaries, there is no evidence suggesting that our troops cannot effectively carry out the same policy change as those nations did.

“In 2008, a bi-partisan panel of retired General and Flag officers carefully reviewed this matter for a year and concluded that repeal would not pose a risk to the military's high standards of morale, discipline, cohesion, recruitment, or retention. Interestingly, an increasing number of active-duty officers who have reviewed “don’t ask, don’t tell” indicate that the policy, not the presence of gays, is detrimental to the armed forces’ need for skilled personnel who are able to serve without compromising their integrity and, by extension, that of the armed forces as a whole.

“As a nation built on the principal of equality, we should recognize and welcome change that will build a stronger more cohesive military. It is time to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell” and allow our military leaders to create policy that holds our service members to a single standard of conduct and discipline."

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Comments

  1. Simple. Direct. Clear.

    What's the big deal? Let's get it done and move on.

    Posted by: Steve | Jan 27, 2010 11:26:37 AM


  2. I know what the General says is anecdotally true. My last year in the Army, everyone in my company knew I was gay and no one cared (which made the little queen inside of me a little sad).

    Posted by: Rodney | Jan 27, 2010 12:05:15 PM


  3. Too bad he couldn't say this while he was still Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff when it might have made more of a difference.

    I wonder what his position was on DADT when he was still ACTIVE as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff?

    Posted by: elg | Jan 27, 2010 12:30:47 PM


  4. Coming from an agnostic-
    "Ahem!"

    Posted by: ED2 | Jan 27, 2010 12:50:01 PM


  5. This is great news for in his 2007 statement, Gen. Shalikashvili was not yet ready to say that it was actually time to act. Bravo!

    And, with respect, complaining about that or that he had a different opinion or simply failed to speak out when he was head of the JCS is a pointless distraction. The entire point of the LGBT rights movement is to get people to GROW rather than declaring irrevocable borders of disagreement.

    Those sky-splitting screams and booming sounds you hear are coming from Elaine Donnelly, pulling out her banshee hair and breaking wind onto paper which she shall hurl at mainstream media who will again demonstrate their superficiality by publishing her recycled claims that she speaks for legions of active duty servicemembers and retired officers who will hurl themselves over the cliff if out gays are allowed to serve. If MSM had any decency they would recognize that she puts the crack in crackpot and ignore her.

    Unless she has hatched some new monstrous lie out her chest, she will wave the same letter protesting repeal that she claimed last year was from 1000+ Flag/General Officers opposing repeal. While homophobia is still rampant in that crusty generation, and its biggest "name," former Marine Commandant Carl Mundy, Jr., was one of the psychopathic homohaters who helped created DADT, the overall credibility of the screed was shot through with the report by the PBS Newshour that at least one of the alleged signatories denied he'd given permission to use his name and that three others were dead. They prematurely apologized for the latter when Donnelly claimed that the three died after signing but, apparently, provided no documentation that was true.

    And BRAVA to Sen. Gillebrand for both securing Shalikashvili's call for repeal and timing its release just hours before our Commander-in-Chief's State of the Union speech.

    Mr. President, it's time to tell Congress: "If Don't Ask Don't Tell is not wrong nothing is wrong."

    Posted by: Michael @ LeonardMatlovich.com | Jan 27, 2010 3:21:33 PM


  6. "The entire point of the LGBT rights movement is to get people to GROW rather than declaring irrevocable borders of disagreement."

    I agree with that statement. I just think that if the LGBT movement can accept that Gen. Shalikashvili "grew" then why can't the LGBT movement accept Harold Ford Jr.'s "growth" regarding marriage equality Remember the thread about Mr. Ford from several weeks ago?

    Why are some public figures allowed to "grow" regarding LGBT issues while other public figures are not allowed to grow?

    Posted by: elg | Jan 27, 2010 5:08:00 PM


  7. too bad obama thinks discrimination is only significant when it involves race and gender

    Posted by: rick | Jan 27, 2010 5:31:44 PM


  8. They always take a stand after they retire.

    Posted by: CB | Jan 27, 2010 5:31:56 PM


  9. It's that some require more proof that their alleged change is real.

    The General had no vote on the creation of DADT, he was stationed in Europe when it was being debated and voted on, becoming JCS Chair after it had passed. His evolution has been publicly documented through his own Op Eds over the past few years, and, unless he's planning a run for office that I'm unaware of, has nothing to personally gain from this.

    In telling contrast Ford's sudden about face coincided with his reach for the US Senate seat held by someone who has grown into someone with very high ratings in the LGBT community. It follows his record of twice voting to amend the US Constitution to ban marriage equality, and voting for a ban on using federal funds to develop school curricula that addressed anti-gay bullying and for a ban on gay adoptions in DC [though he did support allowing adoptions in the next Congress].

    Further Ford has shown a pattern of varying his positions in conjunction with his running for reelection, and, most tellingly, he became more antigay than more gay positive. He went from supporting hate crimes legislation to opposing it, thus falling to a 25 rating [out of 100] by HRC in his final term.

    When running in Tennessee he bragged about his friendship with George Bush, his NRA membership, being anti-Choice, supporting the so-called Patriot Act, and voted to put Repug Roberts on the Supreme Court.

    And, oh yeah, opposed repealing DADT and refused to support the Uniting American Families Act.

    Having moved to The Big Apple, he's trying to shed his Repug in Dem's clothing drag. His recent claims that he has actually supported civil unions since 1996 could not be documented but his having bragging that he would vote for Tennessee's ban on marriage equality, and having gone out of his way to condemn pro marriage equality court rulings such as New Jersey's easily can.

    Posted by: Michael @ LeonardMatlovich.com | Jan 27, 2010 6:05:23 PM


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