Sen. Graham Wants Military Commanders’ Input On Whether Ending ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Will Hurt Recruitment

By Nicholas Ballasy | February 15, 2010 | 9:04 PM EST

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)

( – While the Obama administration is pushing to repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy regarding homosexuals in the military, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told that he wants to hear from military commanders and not from politicians regarding the issue, and added that he will not make a “political decision” to “reward a political movement.”
On Capitol Hill, asked Sen. Graham, ‘Will officially allowing gays in the military hurt recruitment, in your opinion,  or will it help recruitment?”
Graham said, “Well, you know, that’s a question I’d like to hear from our military commanders. A couple of questions about changing the policy, ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ – Is it coming from within the ranks or are the people in the military suggesting it be changed, or is it a political decision?”
“And if you do change it, how would it affect recruiting and retention?” said Graham. “And these are the things I think they will be studying for the next year. So, my view of it is, it has worked. And if you can show me a rational reason to change it – (from) the military commanders -- I certainly will listen.”

Graham further said that he believes the DADT policy is working effectively.
“I’ve been in the military, in the guard and reserves, and from what I can tell it seems to be well accepted,” said Graham.  “But if that’s wrong, I’d like to know. I mean, if there are outcries within the ranks to change it, if there’s a reason to change it, I’d like to hear from our military commanders.”
“I’m not going to make a political decision, trying to reward a political movement,” he said, “but I am certainly going to listen to what our commanders and our military people say.”
“It should be a military decision based on what’s best for our military and the country as a whole,” said Graham.
Under DADT, the U.S. military does not ask new recruits, as it once did, to certify that they are not homosexual. However, under federal law and the Uniform Code of Military Justice, it is illegal and a cause for separation from the service to engage in homosexual activity while serving in the military.  
The DADT policy was established in 1993 through President Bill Clinton’s Department of Defense. The policy states that military personnel should not ask any soldier about his or her sexuality and that individuals serving in the military should not openly discuss their sexuality.
Long-standing law, however, has prohibited people from serving in the military who either say they are homosexual or engage in homosexual conduct.  This law is found in the United States Code Title 10, Subtitle G, Section 654, also known as “P.L. 103-160."
Even if the Defense Department drops the DADT policy, Congress apparently would still have to change the underlying law to allow self-professed homosexuals or people who engage in homosexual activity to serve in the military.
“The prohibition against homosexual conduct is a longstanding element of military law that continues to be necessary in the unique circumstances of military service,” reads the law.
Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), who caucuses with the Democrats, said that his “intuition” tells him that repealing DADT will not hurt recruitment.
“It’s a really good question,” he told “There’s no question that the existence of the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy has discouraged some gay and lesbian Americans from enlisting in the military. The question we don’t know, which I think this study will explore is, if we repeal that current policy, and therefore gays and lesbians can serve openly in the military, will it discourage recruitment?”
Lieberman continued, “My instinct, my intuition is that it will not because the people who want to serve in our military want to serve our country and, ultimately, they’ll care less about the sexual orientation of the people they are serving with than about how capable or courageous those people are who are serving with them. But this is part of what the survey will determine.”