Advocates would like to see a quick repeal of the U.S. military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy which prohibits gays and lesbians from serving openly in the armed services, while the Pentagon is on a longer timeline.
“Their initial estimates were that it would take about a year to do,” notes Katie Belanger, executive director for the gay and lesbian advocacy group Fair Wisconsin. “We think that is probably a little slow for this, that it is something that we can certainly move a little faster on.”
Don’t ask, don’t tell has for fifteen years has effectively forced service members to lie about who they are in order to serve, although Belanger maintains that’s no longer the reality on the ground. “People are out in the military already. About a quarter of the people who are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan already know out people,” says Belanger. “I don’t think we’re going to see the sort of exodus that people have speculated about.”
Senator John McCain this week said he did not favor repeal of the policy at this time. Belanger says that’s puzzling: “in 2006, he actually came out very publicly in support of repealing don’t ask don’t tell, if that’s what the military recommended.”
AUDIO: Bob Hague reports (:60 MP3) AUDIO: Bob Hague reports (:60 MP3)