Former President Bill Clinton says “don’t ask, don’t tell” didn’t work out like he thought it would when Joint Chiefs Chairman Colin Powell sold him on the idea 16 years ago.
In an interview with CBS News anchor Katie Couric, Clinton said Powell convinced him the policy would be more lax and wold allow gay service members to go to gay bars and march in gay rights parades as long as they didn’t do so in uniform.
Didn’t work out that way. More than 14,000 members of the U.S. armed forces have been forcibily discharged since 1994 under the policy and enforcement, Clinton said, was far more aggressive than he was led to believe.
“Now, when Colin Powell sold me on ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ here’s what it said it would be: Gay service members would never get in trouble for going to bay bars, marching in gay rights parades, as long as they weren’t in uniform. That was what they were promised. That’s a very different ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ than what we got,” Clinton told Couric, adding that he supported the policy to prevent Congress from passing a stringent ban on gays serving in the military.
Clinton said enforcement turned more aggressive after Powell resigned as chairman of the joint chiefs and he now regrets supporting the policy.
Powell also has regrets and now supports repealing the policy and allowing gays to serve openly in the military.