WASHINGTON, D.C. — When asked by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer to raise their hand if they support the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” during the cable news network’s Republican presidential debate, not a single candidate’s hand went up in the air.
Who ya’ callin’ friend?: ‘I think it would be a terrific mistake to even reopen the issue. It is working, my friends. The policy is working.’
— Sen. John McCain on ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’
“I don’t think this would be the right time to raise these issues,” former New York Mayor Rudy Guiliani said. Guiliani was joined by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who told the audience that “I think it would be a terrific mistake to even reopen the issue. It is working, my friends. The policy is working.”
Former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) acknowledged supporting a repeal of the law earlier in his career, saying that, “No, actually when I first heard of the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy I thought it sounded awfully silly and didn’t think that’d be very effective and I turned out to be wrong.” Today, however, Romney supports maintaining the ban. “It’s been the policy now in the military for, what, 10,15 years? And it seems to be working,” he said. Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) and former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AK) also indicated support for the law.
“America’s national security was sacrificed in the name of divisive political maneuvering,” said Human Rights Campaign (HRC) President Joe Solmonese. “Every single Republican candidate for president just looked the American people in the eye and voiced their support for a policy that is more concerned about the sexual orientation of an Arabic linguist than it is our military’s ability to decode the next piece of intelligence from terrorist groups.”
“I hope tonight’s debate wasn’t aired over the Armed Forces Network because otherwise over 60,000 gay and lesbian troops on active duty just heard a message of dishonor. For these candidates running to be the next Commander in Chief to dishonor the service of men and women standing on the streets of Baghdad and serving around the globe is shameful,” said Eric Alva, national spokesman for HRC and among the first U.S. troops wounded in the Iraq War.
On March 12, 2007, USA Today reported, “Polls indicate growing acceptance of gay troops. A Harris Poll in late May found that 55 percent supported allowing gays to serve openly, up from 48 percent in 2000. A Pew Research Center survey last year found that 60 percent favored gays serving openly, up from 52 percent in 1994. Support ran three-to-one among those younger than 30.
“The American people have moved forward. Unfortunately, the GOP candidates for president have not,” continued Solmonese. “Apparently, the GOP presidential candidates have decided to ally themselves with the extreme views of the right wing, instead of the vast majority of Americans. Not a single hand raised tonight spoke volumes about their willingness to discriminate against gay and lesbian service members.”