Panel Revisits 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Policy

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Congressional lawmakers are reviewing the U.S. armed forces "don't ask, don't tell" policy for the first time since it was implemented in 1993 during the Clinton administration.

Democrats say there's no hope that the rule would be revised this year. But they say that might change if Barack Obama is elected President this fall.

"We need a new President in order to get this passed - specifically, a President Obama," Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Calif., said. She made the remakrs during a conference call Tuesday convened by the Human Rights Campaign and the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.

According to Obama's Web site, the Democratic presidential candidate wants to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. Republican John McCain supports the policy as it is now.

Wednesday's hearing in the Armed Services Committee's military personnel panel was intended to draw attention to the issue, Tauscher said.

In a Washington Post-ABC News poll over the weekend, 75 percent of respondents said openly gay people should be allowed to serve. That's up from 62 percent in early 2001 and 44 percent in 1993.

"We believe that this is a good first step to have this hearing, but we don't believe that this bill will come forward until we have a new President," Tauscher said.

Current Policy

The standing rule concerning gays in the military was implemented after Bill Clinton became President. After much debate, a "don't ask, don't tell"compromise policy was enacted.

The policy's intent was to shield military recruits from being asked about their sexual orientation.

During a recent interview with The Advocate, a gay news magazine, the Illinois senator did not promise to lead the way for change concerning homosexuals openly serving in the military.

Instead, he said only that he can "reasonably see" a repeal of the current ban if elected President.

No current Pentagon official or military officer was invited to testify.

"It's a waste of time. They always have the same answer," which is that they'll follow the law, Tauscher said.

Source:  The Associated Press

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