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Former chairman
of Joint Chiefs of Staff urges end to gay military ban

Former chairman
of Joint Chiefs of Staff urges end to gay military ban

John M. Shalikashvili, retired chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says Congress should give "serious reconsideration" to ending the ban on openly gay service members. Shalikashvili, who supported the "don't ask, don't tell" policy when it was put into place in 1993, writes in an op-ed for Tuesday's New York Times that "I now believe that if gay men and lesbians served openly in the United States military, they would not undermine the efficacy of the armed forces." He goes on to say that "our military has been stretched thin by our deployments in the Middle East, and we must welcome the service of any American who is willing and able to do the job."

Shalikashvili, who was chairman of the Joint Chiefs from 1993 to 1997, joins other senior retired military officers who have called for repeal of the gay ban. In May 2006, Lt. Gen. Claudia Kennedy, USA (Ret.), the first female three-star officer in Army history, called the law "a hollow policy that serves no useful purpose." Lt. Gen. Daniel W. Christman, former superintendent of West Point, recently told The New York Times that "it is clear that national attitudes toward this issue have evolved considerably in the last decade. This has been led by a new generation of service members who take a more relaxed and tolerant view toward homosexuality." Retired admiral John Hutson, who currently serves as dean of Franklin Pierce Law School, also recently wrote that "it would be a great tragedy if we didn't take advantage of [the] chance to correct a flawed policy."

In 2003 two retired generals and an admiral came out in The New York Times, and in November 2006 14 senior retired military officers urged the first circuit court of appeals to overturn the ban. They wrote that the law "undermines the military's ability to fulfill its primary mission of providing national security by discouraging the enlistment of gay persons qualified to serve their country and by expelling from the military those who have served with honor." (The Advocate)

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