[JURIST] Over 100 retired admirals and generals of the United States military called Monday for a repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy [USC text; HRC backgrounder] regarding homosexuals in the armed forces. The controversial policy requires the dismissal of openly gay or lesbian service members. The statement [text] was released by Admiral Charles Larson [professional profile] and was distributed by The Palm Center [website], a University of California Santa Barbara public policy think tank. The statement concludes that:
[R]epealing the "don't ask, don't tell" policy would not harm and would indeed help our armed forces. As is the case with Great Britain, Israel, and other nations that allow gays and lesbians to serve openly, our service members are professionals who are able to work together effectively despite differences in race, gender, religion, and sexuality. Such collaboration reflects the strength and the best traditions of our democracy.
The statement supported prior comments [Airforce Times report] in support of such an appeal by former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General John Shalikashvili.
The "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy was one of several gay rights issues [NYT report] in the 2008 US Presidential election. President-elect Barack Obama supported [policy text, PDF] the repeal of the policy while GOP candidate John McCain did not. Obama has since said that he would prefer to build a consensus [AP report] of military leaders to support the issue. In June, the US DC Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed [JURIST report] a challenge to the policy brought by twelve formerly dismissed service members. In May, the Ninth Circuit upheld [JURIST report] a challenge to the policy, holding that the military must demonstrate that the specific dismissal was necessary to further an important government interest.