It might be too soon to end the U.S. military’s ban on gays, as the party geared up to block President Barack Obama‘s bid to repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy this year. “I am not saying this law should never change. I am simply saying that it may be premature to make such a change at this time, and in this manner,” said Senator John McCain, addressing the U.S. defense secretary and top military officer as they appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Homosexuals currently are allowed to serve in the armed forces as long as they keep their sexual orientation private. Obama campaigned for the presidency in 2008 on a pledge to fully repeal the law barring gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military. The effort, however, faces a promised Republican procedural roadblock in the 100-member Senate, and it’s unclear if Democrats can muster the needed 60 votes to clear it. At least 13,000 men and women have been expelled from the military under the ban. U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, rejected arguments that the military was too strained by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to integrate openly serving homosexuals. “War does not stifle change, it demands it,” Mullen said in his testimony. The White House sees a narrow window of opportunity to get the ban repealed in the three weeks before the current Democratic-controlled Congress adjourns for the holidays and the new Congress takes power in January. Mullen made a forceful argument for repeal, saying it was not just possible for the U.S. military, it was a moral imperative. “We’ve got thousands of men and women who are willing to die for their country but we ask them to lie about who they are every single day,” Mullen said. “And I just fundamentally think that is wrong.”