Senate puts off promised hearing on ‘don’t ask don’t tell’
WASHINGTON — A planned November hearing by the US Senate Armed Services Committee to consider ending a ban on gays serving openly in the US military will be postponed, a spokeswoman indicated Friday.
“We do not have a date” for the hearing, said the aide, Tara Andringa.
Committee staff have been working on Afghanistan issues ahead of President Barack Obama’s decision on whether to send more troops, and more recently on the aftermath of the shock rampage at the sprawling Fort Hood military base.
The panel’s chairman, Democratic Senator Carl Levin, had said in late October that it would hold a hearing in November and that he hoped to “to find a way to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,'” as the policy is widely known.
Obama, who has drawn fire from gay rights’ groups for not taking steps to freeze or repeal the rule, has said the US Congress is the best venue for undoing the policy, which was crafted in 1993.
About 13,000 US service members have been discharged under the policy since then, and estimated costs through 2003 run at 95.4 million dollars in recruiting costs and 95.1 million in training replacements, according to the US Government Accountability Office.
An overwhelming number of Americans support allowing openly gay men and lesbians to serve in the US military.
The policy requires gays to keep quiet about their sexual orientation or face expulsion.