February 2, 2010 at 3:27 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
Chairman of JCS endorses open service in U.S. military

Adm. Michael Mullen (DC Agenda photo by Michael Key)

The highest-ranking uniform official in the U.S. military on Tuesday announced he personally supports allowing gays to serve openly in the armed forces, marking the first time ever that top military brass has come in favor of  open service.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen made the remarks in testimony before the Senate Armed Service Committee in a hearing partially dedicated to the issue of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

“Speaking for myself, and myself only, it is my personal belief that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly is the right thing to do,” Mullen said. “No matter how I look at this issue, I cannot escape the … facts that we have in policy that forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens.”

While he said he supports allows gays to serve openly, Mullen said he doesn’t have complete knowledge of what the impact open service would have throughout the armed services and said further studies are necessary to evaluate this change.

During the hearing, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced the creation of a working group that would determine what impact ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” would have on the armed services should Congress repeal the 1993 law. Gates also said during the hearing he supports President Obama’s goal of ending the ban on open service.

The hearing marked the first time in 17 years that the Senate took up the issue of gays in the military since the inception of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in 1993.

Check DC Agenda’s website later today for a more complete update on what happened during the Senate hearing.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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