Monday, February 1, 2010


Two months ago, I wrote Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) regarding the anti-gay military policy, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." I'm posting her response, which appeared in my email today.

February 1, 2010

Dear Mr. Christopher,

Thank you for contacting me with your thoughts on the discharging of gay and lesbian
service members from the military. I appreciate hearing from you and welcome the
opportunity to respond.

The Pentagon's current policy on gay men and women serving in the military, commonly
referred to as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," reflects the belief that a service member's
sexual orientation is a private matter. Members of the military are not permitted to
ask about another service member's sexual orientation, and gay service members are
not to discuss their sexual orientation. The U.S. military has supported the policy
based on concerns for readiness and unit cohesion. The practical effect of "Don't
Ask, Don't Tell" is that it prevents gay men and women from serving openly in the

Questions regarding the usefulness of the policy of dismissing service members who
reveal their homosexuality have been raised in recent years by military leaders.
Former Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff General John Shalikashvili (Ret.) and
former Secretary of Defense William Cohen have called for the repeal of this policy;
and former Secretary of State Colin Powell has called for a review of the policy he
helped craft. On November 17, 2008, 104 retired generals and admirals signed a
letter in support of the repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.

While numbers released by the Pentagon reveal that fewer gay service members have
been discharged since the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq began, personnel serving
in critical operations for the war on terror, like Arabic and Farsi linguists, have
been forced to leave the service.

President Obama has stated that it is time to end the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"
policy, and I agree with him. As our Armed Forces seek to add personnel in the
coming years, and the services' recruitment and retention policies are reviewed, I
believe that Congress, working in concert with our military leaders, should reverse
this policy . We must recognize that thousands of brave, gay Americans have served,
and served well, in our military.

Again, thank you for contacting me. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the
future if I can be of further assistance to you on this or any other issue.


Claire McCaskill

United States Senator

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