Connect with us

Days before death, Sen. Byrd revealed quiet push to end ‘Don’t Ask’



Six days before his death, Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) told a constituent that he supported the repeal of the military policy known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

“Repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ does not change the composition of our Armed Forces,” Sen. Byrd wrote in a letter to constituent Jim McKay.

“It merely allows troops to continue to do their jobs without fear of dismissal or blackmailing because of their personal life,” Sen. Byrd wrote.

The letter was first published by The New Civil Rights Movement blog.

Sen. Byrd, the longest-serving senator in US history, strongly opposed allowing gays to serve in the military in 1993, but the conservative Democrat appears to have changed his views later in life.


“No one would have blamed him for not getting involved in [Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell], especially with his earlier conservative positions, but he was actively working to advance legislation to do the right thing,” McKay said.

It is unclear if Sen. Byrd’s successor will support repeal of the policy as well.

“I hope that you will honor Sen. Byrd’s legacy by voting to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) and allow all members of the military to serve openly,” McKay wrote to Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), who is currently serving the unfinished term of Sen. Byrd. “This is especially important to me because I received the attached letter from Sen. Byrd expressing his support for repealing DADT after he passed away.”


During his first appearance on the Armed Services Committee in early December, Sen. Manchin warned that repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” may cause military chaplains to leave the service in large numbers.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Monday he was “not particularly optimistic” that Congress would overturn the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy any time soon. Although the repeal is included in the National Defense Authorization Act, which is currently being debated in the Senate, Republicans have blocked the proposal.



Dear Mr. McKay,

Thank you for consulting my office to express your views about proposed changes to the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in the Armed Forces of the United States. I appreciate your taking the time to provide me with the benefit of your thinking on this matter.

In 1993, when the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” statue (10 USC 654) was initially enacted the prohibition on homosexuals serving in the military ended. However, considers remained that allowing gay soldiers to serve openly would adversely affect the military: therefore, Congress crafted legislation to address these concerns. During the intervening years, however, the concerns failed to materialize.


Repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” does not change the composition of our Armed Forces — it merely allows troops to continue to do their jobs without fear of dismissal or blackmailing because of their personal life.

On February 2, 2010, both Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen appeared before the Senate Committee on Armed Services and said that they favored ending this restriction on military service. Secretary Gates announced that he had directed a comprehensive review to understand the implications of ending the policy.

On May, 2010, the House of Representatives passed legislation that would enable the repeal of this legislation, but only 60 days after the following conditions were met:


1. That any repeal cannot go into effect until after the working group has issued its report regarding how repeal of the statute should be implemented. That report is due on December 1, 2010.

2. That the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff certify in writing that repeal “is consistent with the standards of military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention of the Armed Forces.”

According to a letter from the Administration on May 24, 2010, this legislation met the concerns raised by Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and “recognized the critical need to allow our military and their families the full opportunity to inform and shape the implementation process through a thorough understanding of their concerns, insights, and suggestions.”


I requested the addition of the 60-day period between the certification and the repeal for congressional hearings to be held to ensure that the policy changes associated with the repeal are consistent with the best interests of our Armed Forces.

On May 28, 2010, the Senate Committee on Armed Services reported the Fiscal Year 2011 National Defense Authorization Act, which includes a provision identical to the one passed by the House. The full senate is expected to take up the National Defense Authorization Act later this year.

With kind regards, I am


Sincerely yours,

Robert C. Byrd

Report typos and corrections to: [email protected]. Send news tips to: [email protected].
Continue Reading


Trump supporter blames Democrats for being targeted by the president: ‘Why is that racist?’



CNN interviewed a supporter of President Donald Trump in Eau Claire, Wisconsin who refused to acknowledge the racism in the president's "Go Back" attacks on four women of color in Congress.

The network interviewed Kerri Krumenauer of Wiersgalla Plumbing & Heating Company about Trump's attacks.

"How is it racist?" she asked.

"If you don't like this country, get out," she demanded. "Leave!"

She then showed how misinformed she was about the incident.

"He didn't use any names -- they stood up," she falsely claimed. In fact, Trump did use names and the targets did not stand up as they were not at his North Carolina campaign rally.

Continue Reading

2020 Election

Here’s how Trump hopes to recreate his 2016 presidential win — and how Democrats can send him packing



Writing for CNN on Saturday, election forecaster Harry Enten explained how President Donald Trump's recent, racist behavior lies in his desire to recreate the same electoral conditions that gave him a victory in 2016 in the presidential election next year.

"The Trump strategy is pretty simple: 1. Drive up the unfavorable ratings of his Democratic rival as he did in 2016 in order to compensate for his own low ratings. 2. Bank on an electoral college/popular vote split as he did in 2016. 3. Use a campaign of racial resentment to drive up turnout even more among groups favorable toward the President," wrote Enten. As he noted, Democrats have excellent odds to flip back Michigan and Pennsylvania, but they will have to work harder to win back any of the other states Trump flipped from the 2012 Obama camp — in particular Wisconsin, which was the closest state after those two.

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

American, Italian and Russian blast off for ISS



US, Italian and Russian astronauts blasted into space Saturday, headed for the International Space Station, in a launch coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing.

Alexander Skvortsov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, NASA's Andrew Morgan and Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency set off on a six-hour journey to the orbiting science lab from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 1628 GMT.

A NASA TV commentator hailed a "textbook launch" minutes after blastoff in "sweltering" weather in Baikonur, where daytime temperatures reached 43 degrees Celsius on Saturday.

Continue Reading

Copyright © 2019 Raw Story Media, Inc. PO Box 21050, Washington, D.C. 20009 | Masthead | Privacy Policy | For corrections or concerns, please email [email protected]

Join Me. Try Raw Story Investigates for $1. Invest in Journalism. Escape Ads.