Military chief favors ending "don't ask, don't tell"

Adm. Mike Mullen

Testifying before the Senate today, Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that ending the U.S. military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy would be “the right thing to do.”

Mullen told the Senate’s Armed Services committee gay people should be allowed to serve openly in the nation’s armed forces.

President Obama repeatedly stated his opposition to the policy during his campaign for the White House, and pledged during the State of the Union address last week to repeal the ban within a year.

Mullen stressed he was “speaking for myself and myself only.”

Defense Secretary Robert Gates appeared before the same Senate panel, announcing that he would initiate a year-long review of the policy.

“The question before us is not whether the military prepares to make this change, but how we best prepare for it,” Gates said. “We received our orders from the commander-in-chief and we are moving out accordingly.”

“Don’t ask, don’t tell” was passed by Congress in 1993, and permitted gay men and lesbians to serve as long as they kept their sexual orientation secret. “Homosexual conduct,” however, was sufficient grounds for discharge from the military.

Since then, nearly 11,000 troops have been dismissed under the policy.