Nunn: it might be time to take another look at ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’

Former Georgia senator Sam Nunn was a major player foiling President Bill Clinton’s effort to lift the ban on gays in the military in 1993. He helped push through the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law that lesbian and gay servicemembers have suffered under since. As a consequence, he is universally reviled in the gay community.

Times change. Today in Atlanta:

“I think [when] 15 years go by on any personnel policy, it’s appropriate to take another look at it — see how it’s working, ask the hard questions, hear from the military. Start with a Pentagon study,” Nunn said. [...]

Pressed for his position on the matter, Nunn said, “I’m not advocating anything — except I’m saying the policy was the right policy for the right time, and times change. It’s appropriate to take another look.”

Amanda at Think Progress has some great related links including this December 2006 survey (pdf) of servicemembers who had served in Iraq or Afghanistan finding that 73 percent are “comfortable with lesbians and gays.”

Nunn was also asked today about the speculation that he might make a good Obama running mate:

Nunn, who retired from the U.S. Senate in 1996, gave the same answer he had last month. “I think it’s highly improbable that I would be invited to be on the ticket, and I think it’s also highly improbable that I would be going back into government,” he said.

Nunn as veep has not gone over well in gay circles. Chris Crain came out strongly against the early speculation and Wayne Besen’s I’m having Nunn of it post last week was widely quoted within the LGBT blogosphere. But gay fears were somewhat mollified by a Sunday post from Citizen Crain’s Andoni:

I bumped into Nunn last month and my first impression was, oh my God,he looks older than McCain. As it turns out Nunn will be 70 in September while McCain will be 72 in August. But if Nunn looks older than McCain, that is a problem.

A major subtext in this election is that McCain is too old to be Commander in Chief. I don’t think Obama is going to throw away that advantage by choosing someone to be a heartbeat away from the presidency who looks older than his opponent whom many voters think is too old to be president.

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