Bil Browning

Former President Carter calls for end to DADT

Filed By Bil Browning | May 15, 2007 3:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics, The Movement
Tags: Don't Ask Don't Tell, LGBT community, military, SLDN, soldiers

jimmy_carter.jpgFormer President Jimmy Carter spoke out today about America's discriminatory "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy that forces gays and lesbians in the closet in order to serve in the military. The former President won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002 and has spoken out before on behalf of LGBT civil rights.

In his statement issued through the Servicemember's Legal Defense Network (SLDN), Carter says:

"It is my long-held belief that every human being deserves dignity and respect. I often heard that phrase during my years at the United States Naval Academy, I carried it out as Commander-in-Chief, and it continues to animate my human rights work around the globe today. The nation's commitment to human rights requires that lawmakers revisit 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' the current policy that prevents lesbians, gays and bisexuals from serving openly in our armed forces.

"...there are great differences in public opinion on social issues today compared to twenty years ago. When I served as President, the majority in our country did not support equality for gay Americans, but that has now changed.

"The estimated 65,000 gay men and women who currently are serving our country honorably deserve respect. America has always been a beacon of hope for those who believe in human rights and individual dignity. The brave and dedicated men and women of our armed forces also must benefit from this fundamental ideal."

In a prepared statement sent to, SDLN spokesperson Sharra E. Greer commented:
"As someone who has served our country as a Naval Officer, Commander-in-Chief and one of the world's pre-eminent human rights champions, there are few people more qualified to speak about this issue than President Carter. There is a growing understanding that 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' isn't just bad public policy, but is also a blight on our country's commitment to human rights and equal opportunity. SLDN welcomes President Carter, the first Nobel laureate to call for an end to this unconscionable discrimination within our own government, to the coalition of those working to lift the ban."

While I applaud President Carter for his statement, I can't help but wonder when President Clinton will get around to saying, "I caved to the right. I was a new President, it was my first big campaign promise I wanted to deliver on, and I blew it. This whole thing sucks and we should change it." With his wife running for the top job now, I won't be holding my breath though - unless it'll help her campaign somehow.

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The only reason the USFG would repeal DADT is so they could put all the queers on the front line. They'll only give a shit because they can't meet recruitment levels.

Zach Adamson | May 16, 2007 9:40 AM

I think that DADT, at the time, was a compromise. I do think Clinton did that because he thought it was one step closer to ending the ban. I remember actually calibrating the policy. It meant we could exist in the military, if even in hiding. Unfortunately it ended up that while we weren't telling, they went on a witch hunt and started asking.
It is a bad policy, but I think it really was done because we wanted an end to the ban and that was the compromise. We could serve, as long as no one started poking around.
DOMA is another story. I think maybe even related retaliation for DADT. The religious right went after Clinton for being too pro gay and what we got was DOMA. I think the important lesson from all this is the effect that some of our efforts can have on other areas of our struggle.

From wikipedia
It was introduced as a compromise measure in 1993 by President Bill Clinton who, while campaigning for the Presidency, had promised to allow all citizens regardless of sexual orientation to serve openly in the military, a departure from the then complete ban on those who are not heterosexual. The actual policy was crafted by Colin Powell and has been maintained by Clinton's successor, George W. Bush.

Zach Adamson | May 16, 2007 9:44 AM

celebrating not calibrating (Hmm.. on 2nd thought..)

I have been hoping that DADT policy will end soon especially after I did several interviews with members of the Call to Duty Tour last year. They talked about their lives as members of the GLBT community and how they wanted to serve their country.

I talked with five of them and each has an important message to our community and how we all want to be accepted for who we are and not to be judged by who we sleep with in bed.