Sam Nunn Signals He Would ‘Favor Making Whatever Changes Are Necessary’ To Repeal Ban On Gays In The Military

Former Sen. Sam Nunn (D-GA), who actively opposed allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military and later help craft the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy as chairman of the Armed Services Committee, has stated his support for repealing the ban in the clearest, if somewhat conditional terms. In a recent interview with the Sun News Times, Nunn implied that he would support repeal if the Pentagon study concluded that it does not undermine military effectiveness:

NUNN: If they can mitigate the damage and make sure the military can properly administer (the repeal) in a fair way, but in a way that protects unit cohesion and the morale of our forces, then I would favor making whatever changes are necessary…I don’t think any policy like that can last forever. I don’t think it was designed for that. I think it was designed for giving the military and society the chance to make sure we did not damage national security in any way before the policy was changed.

Nunn told reporter Thomas Day that he did not agree with the Democrats’ decision to begin the process of repeal before the Pentagon finished their study, however, placing him somewhat to the right of Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chief of Staff Chairman Mike Mullen, both of whom gave — at least conditional — support to the Democrats’ approach. Other members of the Joint Chiefs however, have publicly condemned effort to attach repeal legislation to the defense authorization bill.

Nunn had previously suggested that he was open to reviewing the policy in 2008. Then, he told reporters that “times change” and it is now time to reconsider the ban. When “fifteen years go by on any personnel policy,” he said, “it’s appropriate to take another look at it — see how it’s working, ask the hard questions, hear from the military.”


In February, Colin Powell — another strong proponent of DADT in the 1990s — also reversed his position and came out against the policy, noting that “attitudes and circumstances have changed.”