Clinton Calls 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' 'Inevitable'
in New Book "My Life"
WASHINGTON, June 24,2004 (U.S. Newswire)
-- In his new autobiography, "My Life," former
President Bill Clinton recalls the public and Congressional
debate over his promise to the lift the military's ban on
lesbian, gay and bisexual service members.
President Clinton writes that he met with
the Joint Chiefs, all of whom opposed lifting the military's
ban. "(T)hey maintained that letting (gays) serve openly
would be, in General Powell's words, 'prejudicial to good
order and discipline,'" Clinton writes. In a new revelation,
however, Clinton also says that the Joint Chiefs, despite
their personal opposition, "made it clear that if I
ordered them to take action, they'd do the best job they
Clinton also recalls meetings with members
of the influential Senate Armed Services Committee, many
of whom also opposed lifting the ban, including the Committee's
Chairman, Senator Sam Nunn. Clinton writes that he believed
Nunn's arguments, and the arguments of others opposed to
allowing open service, "could have been used with equal
force against Truman's order on integration."
While Clinton notes that a slim majority
of Americans supported his position on lifting the ban,
most members of Congress viewed the support as insufficient.
"Congress," he writes, "thought it was a
dead-bang loser for them."
"With congressional defeat inevitable,"
Clinton says, "(Defense Secretary) Les Aspin worked
with Colin Powell and the Joint Chiefs on a compromise,"
that became known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
Though not stated specifically in My Life,
Clinton's own opposition on the military's gay ban has only
strengthened since leaving office. In a statement made to
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) in October 2004,
Clinton said that "Simply put, there is no evidence
to support a ban on gays in the military." Since 1993,
Clinton told SLDN, "Our nation as a whole has moved
significantly . . . toward recognizing the full citizenship
of gay Americans." He also urged Americans to "keep
striving for the time when serving in our military is an
honor open to everyone regardless of sexual orientation."
"President Clinton, like the overwhelming
majority of Americans, has learned first-hand the detrimental
impact the military's gay ban continues to have on our armed
forces," said C. Dixon Osburn, Executive Director of
SLDN. "Congress should revisit this policy and repeal
'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' once and for all."
Purchasing information: You may buy
former President Clinton's new book "My Life"
on the graphic above to your left.