A Bill to End Don't Ask Don't Tell
"You don't have to be straight to shoot straight."
Those were the words of Senator Barry Goldwater, a combat veteran and unflinching advocate for national defense, and they sum up my position on our nation's failed "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law.
Today, in a press conference in the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing room, I - and a dozen of my U.S. Senate colleagues - introduced a bill to repeal this misguided law, which requires gay service members to lie about their identity in order to serve in our armed forces. Not only does it go against the principles and the standards our military relies on, it puts our national security at risk.
Our bill would immediately end discharges under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and give the military more than a year to study how to implement the ban. Today was momentous - this is the first Senate bill to end "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." And I predict we will ultimately have bipartisan support for it because, plain and simple, this is an issue of military effectiveness. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mike Mullen, General Colin Powell, and former Vice President Dick Cheney all say the law's time has passed.
At a time when we are fighting two wars with an all-volunteer military, our troops are being asked to serve five tours of duty or more. In fact, my office has talked to a service member who has done seven combat tours since 9/11. With all the stresses on our armed forces, we need all the qualified service members we have to fight - we shouldn't be dismissing them just because they're gay. You certainly don't have to be straight to recognize who the enemy is. It's time for "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" to go, and as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I will continue my fight to do just that.