“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Repeal Added to National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, H.R. 5136, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 (NDAA), passed the U.S. House of Representatives with a high level of controversy because the Democratic Majority tacked on an amendment that would eventually repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.
U.S. Congressman Phil Roe, M.D. (TN-1) released the following statement regarding his ‘No’ vote on H.R. 2647:
“I wholeheartedly support our troops and I fully appreciate the work they’re doing around the world. But tonight, the Democratic Majority put their own political interests ahead of our military personnel.
“‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ was a bi-partisan policy forged by Congress, the President and the military. While no policy is without controversy, I believe it has fundamentally worked. At a minimum, I think it’s imperative to hear from all levels of command, our enlisted soldiers and our veterans about how this will impact our troops and our readiness. I personally believe the policy should remain in place, however I would think everyone would agree that we shouldn’t change something this important until we get the answers to these questions.
“Passage of this repeal without significant input from our troops, and against the wishes of the Chiefs of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines, is a clear example of how the Democratic leadership is more than willing to put the interests of a political constituency above the interests of our troops.”
In recent reports, the top military service chiefs still prefer that they be allowed to gather input from U.S. military personnel before Congress modifies the policy. Despite these requests, however, the Democratic Majority pushed forward with the change prior to completion of the review.
Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force General Norton Schwartz wrote: “I believe it is important, a matter of keeping faith with those currently serving in the Armed Forces, that the Secretary of Defense commissioned review be completed before there is any legislation to repeal the Don’t ask Don’t Tell law. Such action…sends an important signal to our Airmen and families that their opinion matters.”
Army Chief of Staff General George Casey wrote: “I believe that repealing the law before the completion of the review will be seen by the men and women of the Army as a reversal of our commitment to hear their views before moving forward.”
Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Gary Roughead wrote: “I share the view of Secretary Gates that the best approach would be to complete the DOD review before there is any legislation to change the law. My concern is that legislative changes at this point, regardless of the precise language used, may cause confusion on the status of the law in the Fleet and disrupt the review process itself by leading Sailors to question whether their input matters.”
Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps General James Conway wrote: “Further, the value of surveying the thoughts of Marines and their families is that it signals to my Marines that their opinions matter. I encourage the Congress to let the process the Secretary of Defense created to run its course.”