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In a press conference Thursday, White House press secretary Tony Snow issued the first comments the Bush administration has made about the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy regarding gay and lesbian service members.
Snow is quoted by U.S. Newswire as saying that the policy is "well-established," adding, "I will defer all questions about military personnel policies to the Department of Defence." When the Department of Defense was questioned about the policy, it indicated that it would defer to Congress on the issue. However, Republican senator John McCain of Arizona recently seemed to indicate that he would support a change to the current policy only if the armed forces vocalized a need for change.
C. Dixon Osburn, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, an advocacy group for gay and lesbian service personnel, in a recent statement criticized this "Keystone cops approach to leadership," saying, "Our men and women in uniform deserve better."
According to the Urban Institute, as quoted by U.S. Newswire, there are 1 million lesbian and gay veterans in the United States, and since its adoption in 1993 the "don't ask, don't tell" policy has resulted in 11,000 gay and lesbian service personnel being dismissed from the armed services. (The Advocate)