Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said he has no intention of reversing the ban on homosexuals serving openly in the military if elected president.
Romney was asked, “How do you feel about gays serving openly in the military?” by The Des Moines Register in an editorial meeting in early November, before the newspaper endorsed him.
“That’s already occurred. I’m not planning on reversing that at this stage,” answered Romney. When asked if he was “comfortable” with the new policy, Romney tried to explain his response.
“I was not comfortable with making the change during a period of conflict, by virtue of the complicating features of a new program in the middle of two wars going on,” he said. “But those wars are winding down, and moving to that direction at this stage no longer presents a problem.”
The discussion was about a policy known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which barred homosexuals serving in the armed services from disclosing their sexual orientation, and military officials from asking. The policy was first established in 1993 under President Bill Clinton, and reversed last December by President Obama by executive order.
Romney has often been criticized for “flip-flopping” on controversial issues, and the DADT policy is no exception.
“If you’re looking for black-and-white answers, you’re not going to get them from Romney,” Craig Robinson, the editor of the Iowa Republican, told the Omaha World-Herald in an interview about Romney trying to please everyone.
In 1994, in his U.S. Senate race against the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, Romney tried to steer into a middle-of-the-road position by telling the Log Cabin Republicans, a gay GOP group, that “if we are to achieve the goals we share, we must make equality for gays and lesbians a mainstream concern,” and that the DADT policy would be a step toward “gays and lesbians being able to serve openly and honestly in the nation’s military.”
But in a 2007 Iowa debate, Romney was on the other side of the DADT issue, saying he was against repealing the policy. “This is not the time to put in place a major change, a social experiment, in the middle of a war going on. I wouldn’t change it at this point,” Romney had said.
Several current and former military officers expressed concern when the DADT policy was lifted.
“We have the best trained army in the history of the worlds and it’s primarily because of the moral and ethics of our troops,” retired Army Colonel Chuck Harrison told The Christian Post in September. “I think the problem with lifting DADT is that it places the emphasis on homosexual personnel above the right of heterosexual soldiers, which could result in potential privacy problems for everyone.”