Hawai’i-based general admonished for campaigning against repeal of ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ policy

According to the following AP report, General Benjamin Mixon, commander of the Army in the Pacific, wrote a letter in the Army Times urging troops and their families to speak out against the repeal of the ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ policy.   Mixon was scolded by the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen for making his views on gays in the military public as the Pentagon moves toward the repeal or modification of the policy.

As a group that actively does counter recruitment, DMZ-Hawai’i / Aloha ‘Aina does not encourage LGBTQ persons joining the military.  But the military’s anti-gay apartheid system is simply archaic and wrong.   Now we know that the top Army officer in Hawai’i is openly anti-gay.

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http://www.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/20100325/BREAKING/100325019/Hawaii-based+general+admonished+for+public+stance+on+gays

Updated at 2:50 p.m., Thursday, March 25, 2010

Hawaii-based general admonished for public stance on gays

Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The military’s top uniformed officer today publicly criticized Fort Shafter-based Lt. Gen. Benjamin Mixon for urging troops to speak out against allowing gays to serve openly.

Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that Mixon, who heads Army forces for U.S. Pacific Command, was wrong to call on troops and their families to fight a repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

Mullen said if uniformed officers disagree with President Barack Obama’s call for a repeal, the answer for them is “to vote with your feet.”

Mixon wrote a letter to the editor of Stars and Stripes newspaper saying he didn’t believe that most military personnel would support the repeal.

“Now is the time to write your elected officials and chain of command and express your views,” Mixon said in the letter, published March 8. “If those of us who are in favor of retaining the current policy do not speak up, there is no chance to retain the current policy.”

Asked about the letter, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said, “I think that for an active-duty officer to comment on an issue like this is inappropriate.”

Mullen agreed. He said Army Chief of Staff General George Casey issued directives on how to handle the issue and the letter “is being addressed with” Mixon.

“All of us in uniform are obliged to certainly follow the direction of leadership right up to the president,” Mullen said.

Asked whether he meant that Mixon should leave the military, Mullen said, “That’s a decision that would certainly be up to him.”

The criticism of Mixon came on the day that Gates approved new rules making it harder to discharge gays from the military.

Gates called the changes a matter of “common sense and common decency.”

Gates announced new guidelines for how the Pentagon carries out the 1993 law banning gays from serving openly in the military — rules which essentially put higher-ranking officers in charge of discharge proceedings and impose tougher requirements for evidence used against gays.

The new guidelines go into effect immediately and will apply to cases already open. They are considered a stopgap measure until Congress decides whether to go along with Obama’s call for a repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

“I believe these changes represent an important improvement in the way the current law is put into practice, above all by providing a greater measure of common sense and common decency for handling what are complex and difficult issues for all involved,” Gates told a Pentagon news conference.

The changes raise the level of officer authorized to initiate a fact-finding inquiry into a case, the level of officer who can conduct an inquiry and of the one that can authorize a dismissal.

To discourage the use of overheard statements or hearsay, from now on any evidence given in third-party outings must be given under oath, Gates said. Cases of third-party outings also have included instances in which male troops have turned in women who rejected their romantic advances or jilted partners in relationship have turned in a former lover.

Some kinds of confidential information also will no longer be allowed, including statements gays make to their lawyers, clergy, psychotherapists or medical professionals in the pursuit of health care.

The individual service branches will have 30 days to change their regulations to conform to the new rules.

Military officials, Republicans and even some conservative Democrats have been reluctant to embrace a change in the existing law. They say they support Gates’ review of the policy but that no changes should be made if they might undermine military cohesion and effectiveness.

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and other Democrats say the time has come to repeal the ban and have called for an immediate moratorium on dismissals.

Nathaniel Frank, a senior research fellow with the Palm Center, which supports a repeal of the ban, said it is unclear how much of an impact the new guidelines would have because regulations already restrict third-party allegations.

“Anything that continues to allow the discharge of service members for something that research shows has no bearing on military effectiveness will not go far enough,” Frank said.

An estimated 13,000 have been discharged under the law. The Pentagon didn’t officially begin tallying discharges until a few years after the law was implemented, and official figures show roughly 11,000 discharged since 1997 with the peak in 2001 before the military became strained by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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Bloomberg News contributed to this report

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On the Net: Mixon’s letter to Stars and Stripes:

http://www.stripes.com/article.asp?section=125&article=68534

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