| John McCain supports Don't Ask, Don't Tell
UPDATE: Servicemembers Legal Defense Network reponds, below...
In an article published today, Senator John McCain (R-AZ), a potential candidate for President in 2008, has told Boston's Edge Providence that he will continue to support the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy regarding the service of gays and lesbians in the United States Military.
In December 199 McCain told the Boston Herald he supported the policy, saying, "I support the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy because Gen. Colin Powell, Gen. Norman Schwartzkopf, all of the military leaders that I respect and admire came up with this policy, They thought it was the best way to address a very difficult problem within our military."
Six and one-half years later, McCain has expressed a similar position. When asked by Edge reporter Peter Cassels his position on DADT, McCain replied, "All the senior members of the military say that it's working." When asked directly if he would vote for Massachusetts Congressman Marty Meehan's bill (H.R. 1059) to repeal the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, McCain said, "No."
In February, the Washington Post reported that the cost to the US Military of the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy was $363 million for the period between 1994 and 2003.
UPDATE: The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network has issued the following statement in reaction to Senator McCain's most recent statement:
"Senator McCain has long stated that 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' is the right policy, and is working. He's just plain wrong. More than 11,000 well-qualified men and women, including Arabic linguists, pilots and medical professionals, have now been fired because of the ban on gay service members, and the number grows daily. Thousands more decline to enlist because of the prohibition on open service. All the while, our military readiness suffers and the government continues a discriminatory law that punishes gay Americans because of who they are.
Senator McCain would do well to listen to the counsel of military leaders who have said it's time for the policy to be repealed. Lietuenant General Claudia Kennedy, General Wesley Clark, Brigadier General Pat Foote and others understand the absurdity of keeping this law in place. And he may learn important lessons from our allies, who have found great benefits, and no negative side effects, in lifting their bans.
Our gay and lesbian service members in Iraq, Afghanistan and around the world deserve respect for their sacrifice. 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' isn't working, but they are, every day and with great pride in their service."
Excepts from the Edge article and the Washington Post article appear below.
Excerpts from Edge:
In a brief interview with EDGE, U.S. Sen. John McCain, a potential Republican presidential candidate in 2008, said he supports the current policy banning gays from serving openly in the military.
Excerpts from Washington Post:
"All the senior members of the military say that it’s working," McCain told EDGE. "I hold the same position." He replied, "No," when asked if he would vote for Massachusetts Congressman Marty Meehan’s bill to repeal the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy.
McCain is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, which would have to vote on sending the repeal bill to the floor for a vote. The House Armed Services Committee has not yet conducted a hearing on the bill despite the fact that more than 110 Democrats and Republicans have sponsored the legislation.
The financial costs to the U.S. military for discharging and replacing gay service members under the nation's "don't ask, don't tell" policy are nearly twice what the government estimated last year, with taxpayers covering at least $364 million in associated funds over the policy's first decade, according to a University of California report scheduled for release today.
Members of a UC-Santa Barbara group examining the cost of the policy found that a Government Accountability Office study last year underestimated the costs of firing approximately 9,500 service members between 1994 and 2003 for homosexuality. The GAO, which acknowledged difficulties in coming up with its number, estimated a cost of at least $290.5 million for the same time period. The new estimate is 91 percent higher.
Originally published on Sunday June 25, 2006.