Officers to Obama: Keep Ban On Gays

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More than 1,000 retired military officers sent a statement to President Barack Obama, Tuesday, urging him to keep a law that bans gays from being open in the military.

Obama has said he supports an eventual end to the "don't ask, don't tell" policy for a bill that would allow gays to serve openly. That bill has already been introduced to Congress.

If the bill is passed, the retired officers feel it would "undermine recruiting and retention, impact leadership at all levels, have adverse effects on the willingness of parents who lend their sons and daughters to military service, and eventually break the All-Volunteer Force."

Among the signatories was Gen. Carl Mundy Jr., a former commandant of the Marine Corps. He said that a "large segment" of currently serving officers had similar views that were expressed in the statement.

"We just see a great many downsides to attempting to enforce on the military something I don't know is widely accepted in American society," he said.

But Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Service Members of Legal Defense Network, says Mundy and others "are mired in the fears and politics of the past."

"More than 75 percent of the American public, including most younger service members as well as many active duty flag officers, realize the question is not if 'don't ask, don't tell' is repealed, but when and how" she said.

It's unclear when Obama will focus more on this policy. Defense Secretary Robert Gates pointed out that he and Obama have "a lot on our plates right now."

*Originally published March 31, 2009

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