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Cheney backs end of 'don't ask, don't tell' policy

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 2:18 PM EDT, Sun October 2, 2011
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Former GOP Vice President Dick Cheney says he supports the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell"
  • "Don't ask, don't tell" was officially repealed on September 20
  • "Don't ask, don't tell" prohibited gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military
  • Members of the audience at a GOP debate booed a gay soldier for asking about the repeal

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Former Vice President Dick Cheney said Sunday he supports the Obama administration's decision to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" policy banning gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military -- a move that was staunchly opposed by most top Republicans.

"I think the decision that's been made with respect to allowing gays to serve openly in the military is a good one" Cheney told CNN's Candy Crowley on "State of the Union." "It's the right thing to do."

The policy, first enacted during the Clinton administration, was officially repealed on September 20. Over 14,000 people were kicked out of the military due to "don't ask, don't tell."

The controversial repeal of the policy became a focal point of a GOP presidential debate last month when members of the audience booed a gay soldier who asked about the decision. President Barack Obama criticized the Republican presidential contenders on Saturday night for failing to rebuke the audience.

"We don't believe in standing silent when that happens," Obama told attendees at the annual National Dinner of the Human Rights Campaign, an organization that promotes equality for gays and lesbians.

If "you want to be commander-in-chief, you can start by standing up for the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States even when it is not politically convenient," Obama said.

Cheney responded to Obama by noting that he's "a little bit leery of the notion that somehow we ought to go hammer the Republican candidates because they didn't respond to booing in the audience."

"When you're in a political campaign and debates, people boo a lot of things," Cheney told CNN. "I'm not sure that it was all focused specifically on that particular issue."

After the debate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum said he hadn't heard the booing when the question was asked. Santorum was being asked the question when the incident occurred.

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