Mark Udall Shoots Straight on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

February 3 2010, 9:45 AM

Udall, Mark_With FlagFor the first time ever, the nation's top military officer, Navy Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified to lawmakers that he has no problem with gays or lesbians openly serving in the military. Moreover, Mullen told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the controversial "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law should be repealed because it forces homosexuals to lie about their sexual orientation, going against the grain of the military's vaunted code of honor and integrity. "No matter how I look at this issue I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy that forces men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens," Mullen said (via the Boston Globe). Though Mullen was joined in his effort by Robert M. Gates, the secretary of defense, staunch criticism is coming from Republicans on the committee opposing change, including Senator John McCain of Arizona. He raises myriad points, including that that openly gay or lesbian soldiers might impact "unit cohesion." But Democrats on the panel, such as Colorado's Mark Udall, support ending the policy to discharge openly gay and lesbian troops, which dates to the Clinton administration. Udall says his constituents pride themselves on allowing others to live and let live (via the Associated Press). ''You don't have to be straight to shoot straight,'' he says, quoting longtime Arizona Republican Senator Barry Goldwater.