The Senate Armed Services Committee has opened hearings on possible repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mike Mullen say Congress must quickly repeal, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” so the military can start the orderly process of letting gays serve openly in the military. Gates says Congress needs to act before the courts get too far into the issue.
He tells Senator McCaskill, a member of the committee, that fears gays will get special treatment if the law is repealed are unfounded. Gates—who served at Whiteman Air Force Base years ago–says, “People would be evaluated and promoted on the same basis that people are evaluated and promoted today,” which he says is done on the basis of competence, fitness for duty, and talents as a military officer.
McCaskill compares integrating gays into the military to President Truman’s racial integration order of 1948. The department’s chief counsel says opposition in the ranks to that issue was much stronger than opposition among the troops on open service by gays.
Another hearing is scheduled for today.