Senate to Review 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Policy

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The U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee will take up the politically charged topic of gays in the military Tuesday on Capitol Hill. It is a divisive issue within the military and Congress and the hearing is likely to reignite the debate.

President Barack Obama promised to repeal the "don't ask ,don't tell policy" on the campaign trail -- he addressed the issue again during his recent State of the Union address."

"I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are," Obama said.

Click play for an update with CBN News Reporter Paul Strand followed by comments from retired Army Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin.  Watch Boykin's complete interview with CBN News here.

Tuesday's hearings will center around steps the U.S. military should take to comply with a repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell policy," which bars gays from serving openly in the military.

Former President Bill Clinton signed the policy into law in 1993 -- a compromise after the military objected to his calls to open its doors to gays.

In the decade since the policy began, nearly 11,000 gays and lesbians have been dismissed from military service.

Critics charge that having gays openly serve in the military would undermine morale and discipline. The issue is bringing intense opposition from soldiers like retired Army Colonel David Bedey.

"Because military communities for better or worse have adopted very traditional values, hold traditional values with respect to things like marriage think the coming out of gays would compromise the integrity of the military community and thus undermine unit effectiveness, unit cohesiveness," Bedey said.

"I think one needs to distinguish between the society at large and also the military society such as it is," Bedey added. "Military society is a much more traditional segment of our population and I think that there'd be a good deal of push back in that particular area with respect with lifting this particular ban."

The review is expected to look at several sensitive issues, including whether the military should extend marriage and bereavement benefits to the partners of gay soldiers.

Some officials oppose lifting the restrictions until all U.S. troops are withdrawn from Iraq. This will be the first hearing on gays in the military in more than 17 years. 

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Charlene  Aaron

Charlene Aaron

CBN News Reporter

Charlene Aaron serves as a general assignment reporter and helps anchor for the CBN News Channel.  Follow her on Twitter @CharNews and "like" her at Facebook.com/CharleneIsraelCBNNews.