Time to aban­don pol­icy on gays: Mullen

Cape Breton Post - - SPORTS -

WASH­ING­TON (AP) — The U.S. mil­i­tary’s top uni­formed of­fi­cer is declar­ing that gays should be al­lowed to serve openly in uni­form, ar­gu­ing that it is “the right thing to do.”

It was the strong­est state­ment yet from the Pen­tagon on this volatile is­sue. Adm. Mike Mullen told the Se­nate Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee Tues­day he is deeply trou­bled by a pol­icy that forces peo­ple to “ lie about who they are in or­der to de­fend their fel­low cit­i­zens.”

Mullen said he knows many will dis­agree about aban­don­ing the “don’t ask, don’t tell” pol­icy and said there are prac­ti­cal ob­sta­cles to lift­ing the 1993 ban that re­quires ser­vice mem­bers to keep their sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion se­cret. But he said he thinks the mil­i­tary can han­dle it. Mullen is chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and chief mil­i­tary ad­viser to Pres­i­dent Barack Obama.

Obama has called on Congress to re­peal the mea­sure, but Democrats say they want more guid­ance on how to al­low openly gay ser­vice mem­bers to serve without caus­ing a ma­jor up­heaval.

Gay rights ac­tivists, a core con­stituency of Demo­cratic Party have com­plained he has been slow in ful­fill­ing a cam­paign prom­ise to elim­i­nate the pol­icy.

But some high-rank­ing mil­i­tary of­fi­cers are re­luc­tant to em­brace the change while troops are stretched thin at a time of two wars.

Mullen noted that he and fel­low high-rank­ing of­fi­cers must still par­tic­i­pate in the wide-rang­ing re­view that De­fence Sec­re­tary Robert Gates has or­dered about how and whether to change the pol­icy, but then added his per­sonal note.

Mullen said he was en­dors­ing a change in pol­icy, “speak­ing for my­self, and my­self only.”

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