dear mr. president

The Joint Chiefs Chairman Who Supported + Implemented DADT In 1993 Has, 17 Years Later, Called For Its Repeal

As New York’s Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand works overtime to defend her Senate seat from Harold Ford Jr., she’s also remaining in the lead of the fight for gay equality, including killing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Her latest trump card? A statement from retired General John Shalikashvili — Bill Clinton’s Joint Chiefs chairman who helped install Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell — on the day Obama is expected to address the nation about the policy.

Shalikashvili, 73, has spent years making amends, of sorts, for pushing the policy. In 2007, in a Times op-ed titled “Second Thoughts on Gays in the Military,” the decorated Army man defended his support for DADT at the time, but called for “serious reconsideration” of the policy. In June 2009, five months after Obama took office, he penned a Washington Post op-ed titled “Gays in the Military: Let the Evidence Speak,” and maintained “a policy change is inevitable,” but prefaced it with, “the proper timing of repealing ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ remains uncertain.”

And now, via Gillibrand’s office, the most definitive statement yet: “As a nation built on the principle of equality, we should recognize and welcome change that will build a stronger more cohesive military. It is time to repeal ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ and allow our military leaders to create policy that holds our service members to a single standard of conduct and discipline.”

With so many years between this moment and when his military service ended — he retired in 1997, after serving in the Army for 38 years — it might be easier for Shalikashvili to see, from both inside and outside the military, why DADT must go, while officers currently serving are having a harder time reconciling with the possibility of letting openly gay American troops protect their country. But his message could not come a moment too soon, on the eve (or rather, the day) of the president’s first State of the Union speech.

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  • Lavendula

    Gillibrand is the real deal. Obama needs to hire her and dump shitheald Rahm Emanuel. He needs a Chief of Staff who has an understanding of American history and who we are as a people, not a political hack who thinks appeasement is always smart politics.

  • sebastien

    DADT will be repealed when Jennifer Love Hewitt will win a Golden Globe for Best actress in Ghost Whisperer !!!

    Good luck with that!

  • Cam

    No. 2 · sebastien said…
    DADT will be repealed when Jennifer Love Hewitt will win a Golden Globe for Best actress in Ghost Whisperer !!!

    Good luck with that!

    Sebastian, I’m surprised, usually you come on here and post something about how aweful the U.S. is, and how much better either France or the UK is (Depending on where you feel like claiming that day.)

  • dan j

    “Times can blind us to certain truths and later generations can see that laws once thought necessary and proper in fact serve only to oppress,” (Justice Kennedy in Lawrence) DADT is one of those laws. By punishing gay people for being gay it perpetuates the prejudice it was intended to indulge.

    As Goldwater said back in ’93: “When the facts lead to one conclusion, I say it’s time to act, not to hide. The country and the military know that eventually the ban will be lifted. The only remaining questions are how much muck we will all be dragged through, and how many brave Americans will have their lives and careers destroyed in a senseless attempt to stall the inevitable.”

  • hyhybt

    Wait, didn’t he give a State Of The Union speech last year? Or did Bush do it?

  • Mike Fourth

    I got a CNN news notice that the Pres was going to announce the repeal of DADT.

  • rf

    @Mike Fourth: Chris Matthews on msnbc said he was told the same thing at lunch today. We’ll see…

  • McShane

    Without a single exception the U.S. hasn’t fought a nonpredatory war since WW2. If gays were more politically aware, they would know that the U.S interests they’d be fighting for are those of big Corporations ripping off small countries. Until we get a government not tied to iimperialist interests, what point is there?

    The government is corrupt inside out.

  • dontblamemeivotedforhillary

    Great State of the Union speech. Did Bill Clinton write it?

    Obama on DADT: “Right Thing to Do!” – so, do it!

  • dan j


    DADT requires punishment simply for being gay. Having to hide who you are is punishment as well as stigmatization. That stigmatizes all gay people and also serves as an excuse to treat us as worth less in other areas as well. If we are ever going to have legal equality, we must eliminate all laws that stigmatize us. So no matter how the military is used, it must not be used to teach that gay people should be punished.

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