During last night’s Illinois Senate debate, Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) — a Naval Reserve officer — said that he had not served alongside any gay servicemembers during his 21-years in the military, but suggested that he may be open to repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell if the Pentagon’s Working Group study showed that reversing the ban would have no adverse consequences.
Kirk stressed that the the ban must be replaced with a new policy after it’s repealed:
KIRK: I think we should wait for the Joint Chiefs of Staff to report as they’re scheduled to in September. This was actually the recommendation of Secretary Gates and the President, but speaker Pelosi wanted to move forward anyway. The problem here is that when you remove the policy, you got to have a new policy….I’m going to read every word of that study. [...]
MODERATOR: Do you know any gay people in the military?
KIRK: I don’t, not openly.
Under the current compromise amendment, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell will remain in place until President Obama, the Defense Secretary and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff review the Pentagon’s study and certify that repeal is “consistent with the military’s standards of readiness, effectiveness, unit cohesion and recruitment and retention.” The public will have 60 days to review the report before the ban is officially lifted and repeal advocates also expect that the president will institute a non-discrimination policy in its place.
Interestingly, prominent generals — like Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mike Mullen and General David Petraeus — who have admitted to serving alongside gay servicemembers are actually more supportive of repealing the ban than Kirk. As Mullen put it, “I have served with homosexuals since 1968….Everybody in the military has, and we understand that. So it is a number of things which cumulatively for me, personally, get me to this position.”
Petraeus also said, “after the ten seconds of awareness wore off, the focus was on the professional attributes of these individuals. So given, again, standards of personal conduct, focus on human behavior, a focus on proper implementation, you know, I think that this is something that can be worked through, frankly.”