Mullen: Congress Should've Waited on Gay Ban Vote

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WASHINGTON -- Without criticizing last week's votes on Capitol Hill, Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said lawmakers should have waited before voting to get rid of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

"Ideally, I would like the legislation to wait until we've completed the review so that we can look at how to implement it," Mullen told Fox News Sunday.

Democratic lawmakers are in a rush to repeal the policy and it's drawing more attention to the debate over homosexuals serving openly in the armed forces.

The votes come months before a Pentagon review investigating how the repeal of the ban on gays serving openly in the armed forces would affect military effectiveness.

"We've worked hard so far in this review to understand what's going on with respect to our troops. And I don't control the legislative calendar," Mullen said.

Still, Mullen says he supports the decision to repeal the ban - like Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who issued a video reminder to troops last week saying the repeal was deferred

"In other words, it would repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell, but only after - and I repeat after - the ongoing Department of Defense high-level review is completed," Gates explained.

Supporters of the legislation believe the ban is discriminatory and should be abolished.

"I believe a majority of the Senate, just like a majority of the country - at least according to opinion polls - favor changing this policy," said Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and a chief backer of changing the law.

But critics question the reasoning behind making a decision before the facts are in.

"What if the assessment comes back and says that soldiers and marines in significant numbers are not willing to continue in a voluntary service under these conditions?" Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., asked.

Colin Powell, who was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff when Don't Ask, Don't Tell became law, opposed allowing gays to serve openly at the time.

He now supports the repeal, but warns that some of the issues that surrounded the debate back then are still very much issues today.

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John Jessup

John Jessup

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