Retired Army Gen. Colin L. Powell, whose opposition to allowing gay men and lesbians to serve openly in the military helped lead to adoption of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” legislation 17 years ago, said this week he now believes the policy should be repealed.
“Attitudes and circumstances have changed,” Powell said. “It’s been a whole generation” since the legislation was adopted, and there is increased “acceptance of gays and lesbians in society,” he said.
“Society is always reflected in the military. It’s where we get our soldiers from.”
Powell’s opinion, announced in a statement issued Wednesday, gives military leaders important additional backing in their push for a non-restrictive policy.
Powell, the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and former Secretary of State, added that he believes the ultimate decision about the policy should be made by President Obama, the nation’s commander in chief, the military’s top brass, and Congress.
Powell’s statement followed the announcement of support for Obama’s proposal by Pentagon chief Robert Gates and a strong appeal to let gays serve openly by the nation’s top uniformed officer, Admiral Michael Mullen.
“I fully support the new approach presented to the Senate Armed Services Committee this week by Secretary of Defense Gates and Admiral Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,” Powell said.