Time to abandon policy on gays: Mullen
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.”