Topics in the News: Gays in Military

Kirsten Gillibrand on Civil Rights : Jul 31, 2019
They said repealing DADT was impossible, so I did it

If you want to get something done, tell me it's impossible. I was told you couldn't repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Members of my own party told me it wasn't convenient. We got it done. Ten years ago I was told you couldn't pass health care for our 9/11 first responders. Even when Congress turned its back on them, we kept fighting. Just last week we made the 9/11 health bill permanent.

Beating Donald Trump definitely not impossible. We need a nominee who doesn't know the meaning of impossible.

Click for Kirsten Gillibrand on other issues.   Source: July Democratic Primary debate (second night in Detroit)

Bernie Sanders on Civil Rights : Feb 19, 2019
1983: Approved "Gay Rights Day" in Burlington Vermont

On LGBTQ rights, Sanders has touted his early moves in support of the gay rights movement. In 1983, as mayor of Burlington, he approved a resolution declaring "Gay Rights Day;" in 1993, he opposed the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy; and in 2000 he supported gay civil unions in Vermont. He opposes President Donald Trump's push to ban transgender people from the military, and laws that would block transgender people from using the bathrooms of their choice.
Click for Bernie Sanders on other issues.   Source: PBS News hour on 2020 Presidential hopefuls

Kirsten Gillibrand on Civil Rights : Jan 16, 2019
End the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy

Click for Kirsten Gillibrand on other issues.   Source: PBS News hour on 2020 Presidential hopefuls

Kirsten Gillibrand on Homeland Security : Sep 9, 2014
Dont-Ask-Dont-Tell caused 13,000 qualified soldiers to leave

Arguments against the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy could be found everywhere. In addition to being morally outrageous and corrosive, Don't Ask, Don't Tell undermined military readiness. Since 1994, when the law was first implemented, approximately 13,000 well-trained military personnel had been discharged from the U.S. military for being gay. More than 2,000 of those people were experts in mission-critical disciplines. The military lost close to 10 percent of it's foreign-language speakers. The cost of implementing the policy, from 1994 to 2003--including recruitment, retraining, and separation travel--was somewhere between $190 million to $360 million. I didn't understand how a reasonable person could think that such money would not have been better spent on equipment, mental or physical health services... almost anything.
Click for Kirsten Gillibrand on other issues.   Source: Off the Sidelines, by Kirsten Gillibrand, p.111

Elizabeth Warren on Civil Rights : Dec 10, 2011
Repeal DOMA; repeal DADT; support ENDA

Warren spokesperson Kyle Sullivan says: "I can tell you from hearing Elizabeth talk about these issues that she supports marriage equality, supports repeal of DOMA, and agreed with repeal of DADT. She also supports ENDA and believes strongly that LGBT individuals should have their rights protected."
Click for Elizabeth Warren on other issues.   Source: 2012 Senate campaign website,

Michael Bennet on Civil Rights : Sep 29, 2010
Opposition to homosexuality is an outdated views of society

An issue that illustrates the differences between Buck and Bennet is the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. When asked about repealing don't-ask-don't-tell, Sen. Bennet said he supported lifting the ban, saying opposition to homosexuality was a result of "outdated views of our society."

Buck said, "I do not support the repeal of don't-ask-don't-tell. I think it is a policy that makes a lot of sense." The don't-ask-don't-tell policy itself was instituted during the Clinton years and prohibits inquiries into the sexual orientation of military members. The current policy states that a person who makes their sexuality known is subject to discharge under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

The Colorado Independent, in a story titled "Coloradans mostly agree with Bennet not Buck on don't-ask-don't-tell," reported that the majority of Coloradans supported lifting the ban. However, Buck's opinion appears to be more in line with the majority of generals and service-members.

Click for Michael Bennet on other issues.   Source: Greeley Gazette coverage of 2010 Colorado Senate debate

Barack Obama on Homeland Security : Apr 13, 2010
OpEd: Promised to close Guantanamo but it's still open

You may disagree with many of these promises. You're probably glad they failed. But don't let that stop you from using them to defeat Obama.
Click for Barack Obama on other issues.   Source: Take Back America, by Dick Morris, p.262

Barack Obama on Homeland Security : Aug 26, 2007
Repeal Donít-Ask-Donít-Tell

Obama believes we need to repeal the ďdonít ask, donít tellĒ policy in consultation with military commanders. The key test for military service should be patriotism, a sense of duty, and a willingness to serve. Obama will work with military leaders to repeal the current policy and ensure we accomplish our national defense goals.
Click for Barack Obama on other issues.   Source: 2008 Presidential campaign website, ďFlyersĒ

Joe Biden on Homeland Security : Aug 9, 2007
Donít Ask Donít Tell is antiquated & unworkable

Q: Would you support a repeal of the ďDonít Ask, Donít TellĒ policy which would allow gay, lesbian, and bisexual soldiers the right to serve openly in the military?

A: Sen. Biden supports ending the Donít Ask, Donít Tell policy. It is antiquated and unworkable. According to recent polls, 3/4 of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan said that they had no problem serving with openly gay people. 24 of the nations serving alongside US forces in Iraq permit open service which has had no negative impact on these forces or the morale of our brave soldiers. Finally, the US does not have enough troops to fulfill our current missions--it is ridiculous to turn away brave and patriotic Americans who volunteer to serve solely because of their sexual orientation--especially in light of the Defense Departmentís recent decision to extend tours of duty in Iraq. Sen. Biden believes that we should treat everyone serving in the military by the same standards regardless of orientation.

Click for Joe Biden on other issues.   Source: 2007 HRC/LOGO debate--written questionnaire

Hillary Clinton on Homeland Security : Aug 9, 2007
Wants to repeal donít-ask-donít-tell, but not until 2009

Q: Youíve said that you would like to repeal ďDonít ask, donít tell.Ē Now, since 2003, youíve sat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, the committee that would decide this issue. Why havenít you introduced legislation to repeal this policy?

A: The very simple answer is we didnít have a chance with the Republican Congress and George Bush as president. And I want to get it done when Iím president. I want to do it and have it be successful. I donít want to try, in a Republican Congress, with a very negative president, and have it defeated. Weíre talking, now that we have a Democratic Congress, about what steps we can take to sort of lay the groundwork so that when we do have a change in the White House, we will be able to move on that. But I just want to sort of put it into a broader context, because itís one of my highest priorities. I came out against donít-ask-donít-tell in 1999. It was a transitional action that was taken back at the beginning of my husbandís administration.

Click for Hillary Clinton on other issues.   Source: 2007 HRC/LOGO debate on gay issues

Hillary Clinton on Civil Rights : Jun 3, 2007
Donít ask donít tell was an important transition step

Donít ask donít tell was an important first step, But talking about this as though there is a reality out there that a president or a Congress can change with the snap with a finger does a grave disservice to the American people. We have a political process. Thereís checks and balances, the Congress was adamantly opposed at the time to letting gays and lesbians serve openly. ďDonít ask, donít tellĒ was the compromised policy.
Click for Hillary Clinton on other issues.   Source: 2007 Dem. debate at Saint Anselm College

Mike Gravel on Civil Rights : Jun 3, 2007
Donít ask donít tell should have gone 20 years ago

Donít ask donít tell should have been gotten rid of 20 years ago.
Click for Mike Gravel on other issues.   Source: 2007 Dem. debate at Saint Anselm College

Barack Obama on Civil Rights : Mar 27, 2007
Pass ENDA and expand hate crime legislation

We must be careful to keep our eyes on the prize--equal rights for every American. We must continue to fight for the Employment Non Discrimination Act. We must expand hate crime legislation and be vigilant about how these laws are enforced--.continue to expand adoption rights to make them consistent --and we must repeal the ďDonít ask, donít tellí military policy.
Click for Barack Obama on other issues.   Source: In His Own Words, edited by Lisa Rogak, p. 44

Hillary Clinton on Civil Rights : Nov 1, 2003
Gay soldiers need to shoot straight, not be straight

One of Billís first challenges as commander in chief became the promise he made during the campaign to let gays and lesbians serve in the military as long as their sexual orientation did not in any way compromise their performance or unit cohesion. I agreed with the commonsense proposition that the code of military conduct should be enforced strictly against behavior, not sexual orientation.

Bill knew the issue was a political loser, but it galled him that he couldnít persuade the Joint Chiefs of Staff to align the reality-that gays and lesbians have served, are serving, and will always serve-with an appropriate change in policy that enforced common behavior standards for all. Bill agreed to a compromise: the ďDonít Ask, Donítí TellĒ policy. It has not worked well.

I just wish the opposition would listen to Barry Goldwater, an icon of the American Right, who said, ďYou donít need to be straight to fight and die for your country. You just need to shoot straight.Ē

Click for Hillary Clinton on other issues.   Source: Living History, by Hillary Rodham Clinton, p.241-2

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Page last updated: Dec 12, 2019