Udall: I Will Be ‘Outspoken Champion’ on ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’

Posted October 16, 2009 at 12:30pm

Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) joined the growing group of Congressional Democrats calling for the end of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell— policy, telling President Barack Obama in a letter Friday he plans to be an “outspoken champion— on the issue.

“We need all qualified men and women, many with mission-critical skills, to fight and win America’s wars,— Udall wrote, later pointing out, “Attitudes in the military have drastically changed, particularly among Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.—

Udall, a member of the Armed Services Committee, requested that Obama seek recommendations from Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen on how best to change the policy, created in 1993 under President Bill Clinton, that bans openly gay men and women from serving in the military.

Udall’s letter comes one week after Obama told guests at a Human Rights Campaign dinner that he will end the controversial policy, although he did not specify a timeline.

Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) recently sent letters to Obama and Gates urging them to weigh in on the issue, and Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) has maintained his panel would convene a hearing on the matter this fall.

Despite the growing rhetoric in recent weeks, no Senator has come forward to introduce a bill to overturn the policy. Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Pa.), an Iraq War veteran, has taken the lead in the House, and Reid has insisted the House act first on the issue.