Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) introduced legislation in the Senate on Wednesday to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" policy.
The Military Readiness Enhancement Act of 2010 would lift the ban on homosexuals openly serving in the military and enforce a policy of nondiscrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
"If Americans want to serve, they ought to have the right to be considered for that service regardless of characteristics such as race, religion, gender or sexual orientation." Lieberman stated, according to The Washington Post.
The legislation comes a month after President Barack Obama called for the repeal of the contentious policy in his State of the Union address.
The American Civil Liberties Union has urged Congress to make ending "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" a priority this year.
"We cannot lose momentum," said Laura W. Murphy, director of the ACLU Washington legislative office, in a statement Wednesday. "Congress must act quickly to ensure that lesbian and gay Americans can serve their country free from discrimination. When the president, our nation's top military leaders and the majority of our country have called for an end to this discriminatory policy, it is time to act. Congress must answer these calls with conviction."
A Washington Post-ABC News poll last month found that three-quarters of Americans support openly gay people serving in the U.S. military.
But Defense Secretary Robert Gates and other service chiefs are cautious of a hasty repeal especially before they have a chance to review a Pentagon study analyzing the impact of ending the 17-year-old law.
"To be successful, we must understand all issues and potential impacts associated with repeal of the law and how to manage implementation in a way that minimizes disruption to a force engaged in combat operations and other demanding military activities around the globe," Gates said in a March 2 memo. "Should Congress take this action, strong, engaged and informed leadership will be required at every level to properly and effectively implement a legislative change."
Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Conway believes a repeal would be disruptive.
"At this point, I think that the current policy works," Conway said last month. "My best military advice to this committee, to the secretary, to the president would be to keep the law such as it is."
Prominent evangelical Chuck Colson says a repeal "isn't military necessity" but rather "the weakening of our moral will."
When servicemen are on the battlefield, they are bonded by "agape" love – the kind that moves men to sacrifice their lives for their buddies, Colson noted in an earlier commentary. But if homosexuals are allowed to serve as openly gay men, it threatens that bond, forcing the "all for one and one for all" attitude to turn into something that "could give way to 'sexual competition, protectiveness and favoritism,' with disastrous military consequences," Colson warned.
Also opposed to the repeal, Phyllis Schlafly, president of pro-family group Eagle Forum, has urged Congress to support and defend the current policy.
Schlafly contends that the civil rights of homosexuals are not violated by the policy just as the rights of the poorly educated, overweight, physically unfit and those with a criminal record are not violated when they are rejected from joining the military.
"The primary purpose of the armed forces is to prevail in combat, not to engage in leftist social engineering," Schlafly stressed in a statement. "The left will not be satisfied until they have exacted their sexual agenda not only on Americans in civilian life through gay marriage, hate crimes legislation, and biased employer mandates, but on Americans in military life as well. We simply cannot allow the 1993 law to be repealed."
The "don't ask, don't tell" policy was enacted by President Clinton in 1993 after Congress passed a law that same year banning homosexuals from serving in the military.