(WASHINGTON) -- Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who served at the Pentagon under two Republican presidents, says the “time has come” time for gays and lesbians to serve openly in the U.S. military.
Two months after President Obama signed a law that will lead to the repeal of don’t ask, don’t tell, Rumsfeld told ABC News Radio the nation is ready for open service.
“First of all, we know that gays and lesbians have been serving in the military for decades with honorable service,” Rumsfeld said. “We know that [repeal of a ban on gays serving openly] is an idea whose time has come.”
Rumsfeld says he has “enormous respect” for the ground commanders and service chiefs who have expressed concerns about the impact of gays serving openly on unit cohesion, and he urged the top brass to implement the new law “with care.”
But Rumsfeld says that congress, which passed the repeal bill in the waning days of the last session, has expressed the will of the American people.
“We’ve seen it evolve in our country,” Rumsfeld said of the nation’s perception of gays and lesbians, reiterating that many have served in uniform with distinction.
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio