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Shalikashvili and Gillibrand End DADT


Former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. John Shalikashvili joined U.S. senator Kirsten Gillibrand in a statement Wednesday urging Pentagon leaders to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

The statement from Shalikashvili, one of only 17 people in the country's history to serve as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, sends a powerful signal to Pentagon leaders. It arrives as interest mounts in what President Barack Obama will say about his plans for the policy in Wednesday night's State of the Union address.

Gillibrand, who was appointed to the seat in New York last year, has become an outspoken proponent of repeal.

Shalikashvili's portion of the joint statement appears below.

"Thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts about the Policy Concerning Homosexuality in the Armed Forces. When I was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, my support of the current policy was based on my belief that implementing a change in the rules would have been too burdensome for our troops and commanders at the time.

"The concern among many at that time, was that letting people who were openly gay serve would lower morale, harm recruitment and undermine unit cohesion. "Don't ask, don't tell" was seen as a useful measure that allowed time to pass while our culture continued to evolve. The question before us now is whether enough time has gone by to give this policy serious reconsideration. I believe that it has.

"Recently, Army Secretary John McHugh said that "The Army has a big history of taking on similar issues [with] ... predictions of doom and gloom that did not play out." His conclusion echoes substantial scholarly and official military research which finds that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly would not jeopardize readiness.

"Studies have shown that three-quarters of service members say they are personally comfortable around gays and lesbians. Two-thirds say they already know or suspect gay people in their units. This raises important questions about the assertion that openly gay service would impair the military. In fact, it shows that gays and lesbians in the military have already been accepted by the average soldier.

"Additionally, at least twenty-five foreign militaries now let gays serve openly, including our closest ally, Britain. Although we lead rather than follow these militaries, there is no evidence suggesting that our troops cannot effectively carry out the same policy change as those nations did.

"In 2008, a bi-partisan panel of retired General and Flag officers carefully reviewed this matter for a year and concluded that repeal would not pose a risk to the military's high standards of morale, discipline, cohesion, recruitment, or retention. Interestingly, an increasing number of active-duty officers who have reviewed "don't ask, don't tell" indicate that the policy, not the presence of gays, is detrimental to the armed forces' need for skilled personnel who are able to serve without compromising their integrity and, by extension, that of the armed forces as a whole.

"As a nation built on the principal of equality, we should recognize and welcome change that will build a stronger more cohesive military. It is time to repeal "don't ask, don't tell" and allow our military leaders to create policy that holds our service members to a single standard of conduct and discipline."

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