It's time to review the military's ban
on open gay service, former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Colin
Powell said on Sunday.
Appearing on CNN's State of the
Union, Powell said that American attitudes have changed regarding
gay men and lesbians serving in the military.
“The policy and the law that came
about in 1993, I think, was correct for the time,” Powell said.
“Sixteen years have now gone by, and
I think a lot has changed with respect to attitudes within our
country, and therefore I think this is a policy and a law that should
be reviewed,” he added.
The military gay ban, known as “don't
ask, don't tell,” prescribes discharge as the remedy for service
members who do not remain closeted or celibate. The Obama
administration is facing increasingly louder demands from gay groups
to end the law that candidate Obama promised to repeal. According to
the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, a group that lobbies for
repeal of the law, 282 service members have been discharged under
Last week, Defense Secretary Robert
Gates said the Pentagon is looking into ways to apply the law in a
“more humane way.” Gates appeared to suggest he disagreed with
discharges in cases where service members were maliciously outed.
“If someone is outed by a third party
… does that force us to take action?” he asked.
Current Chiefs of Staff Chairman
Admiral Mike Mullen has said that the Pentagon has no plans to
deviate from current law.
“The president has made his strategic
intent very clear, that it's his intent at some point in time to ask
Congress to change the law,” Mullen said in a May appearance on
ABC's This Week. “I think it's important to also know that
this is the law, this isn't a policy. And for the rules to change, a
law has to be changed.”
But he also appeared supportive of
repeal. When asked, “So it sounds like if the Congress calls you
up to testify in this, you're going to say now is not the time for
repeal?” Mullen answered,”No, I actually – I'm going to talk
to the process that we have in this country, which is we follow the
law, and if the law changes, we'll comply. There's absolutely no
question about that.”