Friday, June 19, 2009

General Shalikashvili supports repeal of "Don't Ask Don't Tell"

By John M. Shalikashvili

The Supreme Court announced last week that it would not review a lawsuit challenging the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy forbidding homosexuals from serving openly. The Obama administration had asked the court not to take the case as the president considers ending the ban.

News that the president would change the policy had inspired a group of retired flag officers to argue on this page this spring that service by openly gay individuals would harm morale, discipline, cohesion, recruitment and retention in the U.S. military ["Gays and the Military: A Bad Fit," op-ed, April 15]. They wrote as part of a larger effort by more than 1,000 retired officers to keep the ban in place.

According to the generals and admirals, allowing gay men and lesbians to serve openly would make parents less willing to allow their sons and daughters to enlist. The argument assumes that anti-gay sentiment is so fierce and widespread that moving to a policy of equal treatment would drive away thousands and could ultimately "break the All-Volunteer Force." Not only is there no evidence to support these conclusions, but research shows conclusively that openly gay service members would not undermine military readiness. [Story continues here]

The writer, a retired Army general, was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1993 to 1997.

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