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Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: 14 Years Later

Audio

Aired 4/19/09

Originally aired on December 6, 2007.

Tom Fudge: The expression "don't ask, don't tell" became a cliche in American English 14 years ago. That's when Pres. Bill Clinton, Congress and the military reached a compromise on allowing gays and lesbians to serve. Fundamentally, the old policy, banning homosexuals from military service, stayed in tact. But the new policy did just as its name suggests. Military officials weren't supposed to ask a recruit about his or her sexual orientation, and recruits weren't compelled to disclose it.

Neither side much liked the compromise. And today, more and more retired military officials are saying the ban on gays in the military should simply be gotten rid of. Last week, 28 retired generals and admirals signed a letter urging Congress and the president to allow homosexuals to serve openly.

General John Shalikashvili, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has changed his position on gay service. The general says he's convinced that the new generation of service members is willing to accept gays and lesbians as their peers. He went on to say military staffing has grown so thin that "we must welcome the service of any American who is willing and able to do the job."

Guests

  • Lee Quillian , chief petty officer.
  • Joe Brunner, retired Navy officer.

 

 

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