Joint Chiefs nominee Admiral Michael Mullen faced a Senatorial grilling yesterday.
In addition to addressing Iraq – which he says has greatly depleted America’s military – Mullen also indicated that he’s open to abolishing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
After chatting with a retired military man, Republican Senator Susan Collins asked Mullen where he stands on the Clinton-era discriminatory policy. Departing from predecessor Peter Pace’s moralistic anti-gay stance, Mullen replied that while he’d like Congress to take a more decisive stand on the matter, he also believes American citizens should have a say:
I really think it is for the American people to come forward, really through this body, to both debate that policy and make changes, if that’s appropriate.
As of last month, CNN reported, 79% of Americans disagree with Don’t Ask.
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network’s Sharra E. Greer approves of Mullen’s remarks, saying,
Admiral Mullen’s remarks are a welcome change of pace among military leadership, where there has long been an adversity to encouraging debate on opening the services to lesbian and gay patriots.
Mullen’s remarks are certainly preferable to Pace’s, who once said, “I believe homosexual acts between two individuals are immoral and that we [the military] should not condone immoral acts.”
Bilerico points out that this isn’t the first time Mullen’s expressed flexibility over the controversial policy. The Admiral told The Brookings Institute last April:
If it’s time to revisit that policy, the American people I believe – and we live in a country – the American people ought to raise that issue and we’ll have the debate. As a member of the Joint Chiefs and obviously the head of one of the services, I will contribute to that and give my best military advice based on what – the debate that’s going on, and if it changes, it changes. I think that’s the path right now.
While promising, we’re still wary of Mullen’s middle of the road attitude. He insists he’ll implement Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and may simply be skirting the issue to win political points.