(CNSNews.com) – Whether President Barack Obama’s plan to repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy and allow homosexuals to serve openly in the armed forces is a good idea, two Air Force leaders declined to say anything more than they will follow the law, when asked by CNSNews.com on Tuesday.
A recent poll, meanwhile, revealed that 10 percent of the military personnel surveyed would not re-enlist if “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” were repealed.
“The president is the commander and chief, and he can do what he wishes,” Craig Duehring, assistant secretary of the Air Force for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, told CNSNews.com. “When Congress tells us what to do and it becomes law, we are in the position to implement that law.”
As for repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” Duehring said, “I don’t think that’s something I really want to comment on. We have to see what he [Obama] proposes.”
In reference to the same question, Lt. Gen. Richard Newton, deputy chief of staff for Manpower and Personnel for the Air Force, told CNSNews.com, “We follow the law of the nation.
“That’s all I’ll say,” said Newton.
Both men spoke to CNSNews.com at the U.S. Capitol on March 17, after they had testified in a House Appropriations Committee Defense Subcommittee hearing on military personnel in the Air Force.
Ten percent of armed services respondents who replied to a Military Times poll of December 2008 said they would not re-enlist or extend their service if the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy is ended. Fourteen percent said they would consider terminating their careers once their obligations were complete if the policy were repealed.
Homosexual conduct is currently prohibited by the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) and is cause for removal from the service.
However, under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” a policy instituted by President Bill Clinton in 1993, the military does not ask recruits if they are homosexual, and homosexuals may serve as long as they do not talk about their sexual behavior or engage in conduct prohibited by the UCMJ.
On his presidential campaign Web site last year, then-Sen. Obama featured an “Obama Pride” section that stated his position on the policy.
The statement, dated June 6, read: “Let’s repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ and demonstrate that the most effective and professional military in the world is open to all Americans who are ready and willing to serve our country.”
“We are ready to accomplish these goals because of the courage and persistence of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people who have been working every day to achieve equal rights,” the Web site stated.
When asked on Jan. 9, 2009, whether the administration plans to end “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said, “Yes,” but did not elaborate or present a timetable for ending the policy.