Saxby Chambliss: Military should keep ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’

U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss this afternoon declared himself opposed to any change in the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that permits gays to serve in the military – but not openly.

The occasion was a testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee by Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chief of Staff Chairman Mike Mullen.

Mullen said it was his opinion that lifting the restriction would be “the right thing to do.”

Chambliss holds the U.S. Senate seat once occupied by Sam Nunn, who helped forge the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in the 1990s under President Bill Clinton. In 2008, Nunn said he thought it was time the policy was reexamined.

The dichotomy of Chambliss’ position was on display. On one hand, Georgia’s senior senator acknowledged the service of gays and lesbians, and predicted that they would complete future service “valiantly.”

On the other hand, Chambliss said “the presence” in the military of those “who demonstrate a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts” would create an unacceptable risk in the military.

Chambliss’ statement begins at the 51:50 mark in the C-SPAN clip below:

Here’s precisely what Chambliss said:

Just as was stated by my friend Senator Udall, I think the live-and-let-live policy is not a bad policy to adhere to, and that’s what we have in place in the military with “don’t ask, don’t tell” right now.

To you, Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen, you’re in a tough spot. We understand that. This is an extremely sensitive issue and everybody on this committee I’m satisfied is sensitive to this issue, both inside and outside the military.

In the military, it presents an entirely different problem than it does in civilian life, because there is no constitutional right to serve in our armed forces. Today we know we have gay and lesbian soldiers serving. They’ve served in the past. They’re going to serve in the future, and they’re going to serve in a very valiant way.

But the primary purpose of the armed forces is to prepare for and prevail in combat should the need arise. Military life is fundamentally different from civilian life, and military society is characterized by its own laws, rules, customs and traditions – including restrictions on personal behavior that would not be acceptable in civilian society.

Examples include alcohol use, adultery, fraternization and body art. If we change this rule of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” what are we going to do with these other issues?

The armed forces must maintain personnel policies that excludes persons whose presence in the armed forces would create an unacceptable risk to the armed forces high standards, the morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion.

In my opinion, the presence in the armed forces of persons who demonstrate a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts would very likely create an unacceptable risk to those high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and effective unit cohesion and effectiveness. I’m opposed to this change, and I look forward to a very spirited debate on this issue….

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46 comments Add your comment


February 2nd, 2010
4:09 pm

I expect we’ll see new bumper stickers passed out at Republican campaign stops this year that say, “Support Our Straight and Closeted Homosexual Troops”


February 2nd, 2010
4:12 pm

What does he know about military life? Does it involve golf courses?


February 2nd, 2010
4:23 pm

“The Citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for giving to Mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy: a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights. For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection, should demean themselves as good citizens.”
President George Washington, in a 1790 letter to the Jews of Newport, Rhode Island responding to their congratulations on his inauguration.

‘Nuff said?


February 2nd, 2010
4:26 pm

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is the exact opposite of the “live-and-let-live” policy.


February 2nd, 2010
4:38 pm

What would Chambliss know about the military? Anyone?


February 2nd, 2010
4:41 pm

Examples include alcohol use, adultery, fraternization and body art.

Are you trying to tell me that none of this happens in the Military????


February 2nd, 2010
4:46 pm

During the Vietnam War, Chambliss received five student deferments and was also given a medical deferment (1-Y) for bad knees due to a football injury. Sounds pretty gay to me.


February 2nd, 2010
4:48 pm

Not a surprise since Saxby’s credo has always been “don’t know, don’t care”.


February 2nd, 2010
5:19 pm

I love how Mr. Chambliss feels qualified to comment on ANYTHING military, since he was “unable” to himself serve. Cluck, cluck! The man should be run out of Congress! I know–point him and his bad knees toward a golf course!


February 2nd, 2010
5:22 pm

Remember when Senator Chambliss said we must listen to our military leaders relating to troop increases? He was quite upset that President Obama may put his opinion above those who serve and know better.

Admiral Mike Mullen, our nation’s top uniformed officer, has called for a end to “don’t ask, dont tell” and to allow gay men and women serve without regard to their sexual orientation.

I wonder why Senator Chambliss is not willing to follow his own advice regarding listening to our military leaders and is determined to put his own opinion above those who serve our nation in the military?

R Pitts

February 2nd, 2010
6:32 pm

Chambliss = Bigot, plain and simple. He can kiss my gay…well, you know what!

mitchell owens

February 2nd, 2010
6:44 pm

Why is it those people who didn’t serve are always the biggest defenders of conservative policy in the military? This has always puzzled me. It’s like watching boys trying to impress the men they want to be like.

David in Atlanta

February 2nd, 2010
7:25 pm

Saxby is and always has been a loyal lapdog to the Christianist right. He opposes allowing openly gay and lesbian Americans from serving in the Armed Forces, yet he admits that they have served and continue to serve valiantly.

If his claim is that gays somehow contribute to a decrease in “high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and effective unit cohesion and effectiveness,” then let’s see the data. Thousands of servicemembers have been evicted from the military for being openly gay. What kinds of behavior and discipline problems did they cause? Where are the statistics to show that gay service members have a higher incidence of causing these problems than their straight counterparts?


February 2nd, 2010
7:27 pm

From the hit TV show The West Wing

Major Tate: Sir, we’re not prejudiced toward homosexuals.

Admiral Percy Fitzwallace: You just don’t want to see them serving in the Armed Forces?

Major Tate: No sir, I don’t.

Admiral Percy Fitzwallace: ‘Cause they impose a threat to unit discipline and cohesion.

Major Tate: Yes, sir.

Admiral Percy Fitzwallace: That’s what I think, too. I also think the military wasn’t designed to be an instrument of social change.

Major Tate: Yes, sir.

Admiral Percy Fitzwallace: The problem with that is that’s what they were saying about me 50 years ago – blacks shouldn’t serve with whites. It would disrupt the unit. You know what? It did disrupt the unit. The unit got over it. The unit changed. I’m an admiral in the U.S. Navy and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff… Beat that with a stick.


February 2nd, 2010
7:52 pm

Saxby’s position makes no sense. But his positions rarely do.


February 2nd, 2010
10:31 pm

Run out all the homos!
That way we will have even fewer third-world-language translators than we do now~
Ought to bode well for terrorism…


February 3rd, 2010
3:10 am

Nope said, “During the Vietnam War, Chambliss received five student deferments and was also given a medical deferment (1-Y) for bad knees due to a football injury. Sounds pretty gay to me.”

Wrong. It doesn’t sound gay; it sounds cowardly.

The REAL GodHatesTrash, Superstar

February 3rd, 2010
6:46 am

Saxby don’t need no stinkin’ DADT. His gaydar works great, like most GOPers he knows where to go to get that hot man-man action.

The Late Maynord Jackson

February 3rd, 2010
6:50 am

Saxby is the Jackson Machine’s Man. He is #1 in shaking the Lobbyist down. There is big money in this for Saxby.

Vote Roy Barnes EARLY & OFTEN.


February 3rd, 2010
7:26 am

I sent Chamliss an e-mail about this. Conservatives want government to not interfere in our lives with undue regulation and this includes how we lead our private lives. I am a life long conservative and I am disgusted that Chambliss and his ilk are more than willing to use the power of the Federal Government to tell others how to lead their lives.

Given the great examples of Republicans treatment of marriage, see South Carolina, see McCain, they should get a clue. Your in Washington to do what we tell you to do, not there to tell us what to do.

No, I am most definitely not gay, but any use of Government power to change behavior because of religious bigots like Chambliss is wrong.


February 3rd, 2010
8:27 am

Chambliss is totally and completely unqualified to discuss military issues if he never served – and was active in making sure he never served. Period.

Merlot Winters

February 3rd, 2010
9:00 am

This is the same man who won his seat in the Senate by accusing Max Cleland, a wounded war veteran, of being too soft on terrorism. Sheesh!


February 3rd, 2010
9:08 am

I don’t care what they do but…

Saxby’s argument is so stupid (and his base) that it’s one more reason why folks from other parts of the country have such negative images of the South.

Georgia Whig Party member

February 3rd, 2010
9:15 am

I support “don’t ask don’t tell” but for absolutly none of the reasons the senator just used. It was a shallow letter of intent from our senator. Quite frankly when you add the element of sex to a battlefield you will get issues. Lots of them, thats why allowing women in the military was a big deal, and why they still refuse to allow women in the front line. You start adding too many civilian codes of conduct to a military front line and you will handicap your troops. When they are in a fight they need to be focused on killing the enemy not “gettin’ some” or trying to keep others from ‘”gettin’ some”…

The slippery slope argument the senator used is silly, its the same one used for gay marriages, ‘well if we allow gay marriages when will it stop, will we allow people to marry their pets?”… Its just a dumb and ignorant arguing tactic that shouldn’t be used but rarely. This issue is decidingly different than other gay rights issues, this is a frontline battle issue, and we should keep it that way.


February 3rd, 2010
11:51 am

I guess there were no triple amputees to slander in the building that day…


February 3rd, 2010
1:48 pm

Saxby Chambliss is a “5-deferment” draft dodger. The Senator’s 2002 campaign against Max Clelend will live in ‘election infamy.” Chambliss’ vile campaign against this decorated veteran – a triple-amputee – who served and almost died in Vietnam when Saxby would not, sickens me. I’m glad Chambliss didn’t serve. Men like him don’t begin to measure up to the ‘code.’

He’s an arrogant, homophobic chickenhawk that resides in a fantasy land pretending he knows more about the military and its personnel than a professional soldier such as Admiral Mike Mullen. You might a US Senator, but you are not an honorable man.

Kory Schaubhut

February 3rd, 2010
2:39 pm

I think the weirdest thing is how people act as if this is such a weighty and momentus issue. I predict virtually no change whatsoever in my military lifestyle if gays are allowed to serve openly.

Harry F.

February 3rd, 2010
2:47 pm

Members of the armed forces already smoke, drink, commit adultery, and create children out of wedlock. They have a propensity for acting heterosexual, lack morals, and destroy the social fiber of America just as well as the average politician.

I don’t like this scapegotting in the District of Columbia. He needs to focus on the real issues such as creating jobs, allowing people to serve honourably in our country’s military (there are gays in other militaries), mass transit, homelessness, and other issues.

Mister Chambliss, you are currently in disservice to your constituents. You are disserving to gay Republicans. And you are disserving gay Christians.

Intown Lib

February 3rd, 2010
3:04 pm

My expectations for Chambliss were already quite low, yet I am disappointed in him nonetheless. It’s not like allowing gays to serve openly in the military is some sort of sanction of gay sex in the barracks or on the battlefield. The military culture certainly seems capable of taking any able bodied person willing to serve — gay or not. Chambliss is also bucking the majority of his party and conservatives who also favor an end to the policy.


February 3rd, 2010
4:41 pm

Countries that allow gays in the military:
Czech Republic
The Netherlands
New Zealand
South Africa
United Kingdom

Once again Saxby Chambliss and Georgia one of the most backwards-thinking people and places in the world!

[...] had our Jimmy Carter, and our Martin Luther King, and our Sam Nunn. But right now, we got nothing: Saxby Chambliss: Military should keep ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ Atlanta Journal-Constitution by Jim Galloway February 2, [...]

Georgia Whig Party member

February 4th, 2010
9:55 am

I am now convinced the majority of you have no idea what “don’t ask, Don’t tell” actually means… It has nothing to do with keeping gays out, it has to do with disclosure of sexual orientation to the military institution. Would you not have just as much objection to “Asked, and had to tell”.?.? All of you who think that this keeps gays out of the military are missing the meaning of the rule, it just asks them not to disclose it and they do not ask… Weird how so many people can have opinons without bothering to actually have any clue what the rule actually means.

Having said that apparently Colin Powell came out recently against “don’t ask don’t tell”. And that is causing me to examine my own beliefs of the matter, it could be that something has changed since my enlisted days and my facts are dated…

Grant in Grant Park

February 4th, 2010
10:32 am

It amazes me that even with all of his lame “credentials” the majority of Georgians have voted for this man – twice!! Doesn’t say a lot about Georgia does it? No wonder the rest of the country looks upon the south with such derision…… Any American willing and able to serve this country should be allowed to serve. Sen. Chambliss is a disgrace.

[...] California has warned of the danger of hermaphrodites taking over the armed forces, and the heroic Senator Saxby Chambliss of Georgia has painted a terrifying picture of the kind of military we will have unless McCain [...]


February 4th, 2010
5:58 pm

So much for Republicans who claim that they “listen to the advice of the commanders”.


February 4th, 2010
6:00 pm

This guy has no clue. It is disgusting that he is a lawmaker and “leader.”

[...] Chambliss of Georgia, who won Nunn’s former seat, said that changing the policy could lead the military to permit “alcohol use, adultery, fraternization and body [...]


February 4th, 2010
10:33 pm

I dare say that homosexuals in the military won’t be getting pregnant in the middle of deployments so they can go home.


February 5th, 2010
9:19 am

Having served in the military during the Vietnam era and Gulf War I have had the experience of serving with many honorable and brave people. I have to tell you that the men and women that I served with and later found out they had “different sexual preferences” than me were some of the finest people AND soldiers/airmen a person could have served with. Having found refuge Our cowardly senator from Georgia has no right to judge. He is just another example of our Republican “leaders” being too cowardly to stand up and speak out as individuals who are elected to represent you and me. I hope that this issue is his political suicide. He and others like him need to go away.

From a quote on “It’s shameful that Saxby would summon such outrage when he got out of Vietnam by claiming a football injury after receiving a law school deferment. (The one most common characteristic of Republican “Alpha Male” wannabees of a certain age in the GOP is that they almost all found a way to avoid service in Vietnam while claiming to “support our troops.”)”

janie Hopwood

February 5th, 2010
10:09 am

But it is okay for heterosexual contractors on our payroll to require female employees to sign a contract saying they will not sue if they are raped. Love the “Moral” stand! Gay = bad rape= too bad for you.
Senator Chambliss voted against an amendment that would have prohibited the US from contracting with companies that include the no sue for rape clause in their contacts.


February 6th, 2010
11:56 am

if you want to know what military people think about this subject join this group on facebook!/group.php?gid=272070939402&ref=mf


February 7th, 2010
4:11 am

Does anyone else think Senator Chambliss’ remarks about the perils of known homosexuals serving in the military are reminiscent of those once made by white-costumed men about the evils of racial integration? Some things never change — but luckily, elected representatives who live in the past can be voted out of office. Just something to keep in mind at election time.

Saxby « The Incredulous Pithcanthrope

February 8th, 2010
11:29 am

[...] In my opinion, the presence in the armed forces of persons who demonstrate a propensity or intent to… [...]


March 5th, 2010
8:46 pm

Geez the way you supporters of ending DADT talk every arab translator and pilot we have is gay. Look up the GAO report on those translators that were discharge. All were not in GWOT language tracks, Half had not even completed language school and another percentage were not even CAT II liguists. Meaning their loss did nothing to us. I have a great ideal, since 90% of you never served and are only trying to get your foot in the door so you can have your agenda rammed through on the backs of the nations security, I suggest you contact your elected officials and ask for manditory 24 month military service for all able body American’s. I mean the all voulunteer force is so jacked-up, right? One last thing, did you know we discharge more people for not meet their services weight standards than we do people under don’t ask don’t tell? Where is all the crying for them?


March 14th, 2010
6:50 pm

“Examples include alcohol use, adultery, fraternization and body art. If we change this rule of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” what are we going to do with these other issues?”
This is a logical fallacy. Allowing gays to fight openly isn’t allowing any of the above (including, say, homosexual behavior) to happen on the field just like it wasn’t allowing heterosexual fraternization to happen before. Therefore they aren’t “going to do” anything with these issues. Because no new actions are allowed that were prohibited before the hopeful repeal of “Don’t ask, don’t tell”.


September 21st, 2010
1:09 am

We understand that we are not voting to keep homosexuals out of the military, we know we are voting for the right to serve openly in the military. The right to not be discharged because we are homosexual. Honestly, the world is changing and we must change with it or be left behind.