As chairman of the powerful Armed Forces Committee in the 1990s, then-Sen. Sam Nunn (D-GA) led a series of hearings that helped undermine President Clinton’s attempt to lift the ban on gays and bisexuals serving openly in the military. Nunn faced strong opposition from gay and civil rights groups. As UPI reported in January 1993:
Nunn, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has opposed lifting the ban and had proposed a six-month waiting period during which federal hearings would be held to consider the impact of removing the restrictions.
“We are here today to call upon Sen. Sam Nunn to stop obstructing President Clinton’s effort to end discrimination in the United States military,” said Don George, the Atlanta field coordinator for the Human Rights Campaign Fund.
Speaking in Atlanta, GA today, however, Nunn indicated a shift in his views, saying that it may now be time to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT):
“I think [when] 15 years go by on any personnel policy, it’s appropriate to take another look at it — see how it’s working, ask the hard questions, hear from the military. Start with a Pentagon study,” Nunn said. [...]
Pressed for his position on the matter, Nunn said, “I’m not advocating anything — except I’m saying the policy was the right policy for the right time, and times change. It’s appropriate to take another look.”
Although he doesn’t specifically say he supports a repeal, Nunn’s change of views is refreshing and follows progress by other traditionally conservative institutions. Last month, Joint Chiefs Chairman Michael Mullen also said that the military was ready to accept gay servicemembers if Congress repeals DADT. A December 2006 survey of servicemembers who had served in Iraq or Afghanistan found 73 percent of those polled were “comfortable with lesbians and gays.”