Stuck with the #DADT bill, Clinton disputes charges
“Don't ask, don't tell was only adopted when both houses of Congress had voted by a huge veto-proof margin to legislate the absolute ban on gays in the military if I didn't do something else. That is, they made it clear, both houses, in their votes, by veto proof margins, they would never let me order, by executive order, gays to serve in the military. So it's some big myth that somehow it rolled through the military. Congress voted -- and I got beat. And so did the gay rights people, got beat. So there's been a lot of rewriting history saying Bill Clinton just gave into that. That's just factually false. I didn't do anything until the votes were counted.
Now, when Colin Powell sold me on 'don't pass, don't tell,' here's what he said it would be: Gay service members would never get in trouble for going to gay bars, marching in gay rights parades as long as they weren't in uniform, getting gay materials for any of the places they went or any of the things they did, as long as they didn't talk about it. That was what they were promised. That's a very different 'don't ask, don't tell' than we got. What we got as soon as Gen. Powell retired was this vicious mid- and lower-level officer feedback where they, for a year or so, made it worse than it had been before. Then they sort of settled down. But, the reason I accepted it was because I thought it was better than an absolute ban, and because I was promised it would be better than it was.
But the world has changed now. There's a huge shift in opinion, and I think we're going to prevail on this. I think that...the Republicans are making a huge issue out of gays serving in the military in the election, but unless they can somehow stir it up again, I think that our military commanders will implement it."
-42nd President Bill Clinton, speaking to CBS News' Katie Couric
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