The entire field of eight U.S. Democratic presidential candidates have indicated their support for repealing the American military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” ban on lesbian, gay and bisexual personnel during a televised debate on Sunday.

The candidates, appearing on CNN, all expressed support for allowing lesbians and gays to serve openly in the armed forces.

“I’ve been to Afghanistan; I’ve been to Iraq seven times; I’ve been in the Balkans; I’ve been in these foxholes with these kids, literally in bunkers with them,” said Senator Joe Biden. “Let me tell you something: Nobody asked anybody else whether they’re gay in those holes, those foxholes, number one. Number two, our allies – the British, the French, all our major allies – gays openly serve. I don’t know the last time an American soldier said to a backup from a Brit, ‘Hey, by the way, let me check, are you gay, you straight? This is ridiculous.”

Senator Hillary Clinton said that she’d “concluded that this is not the best way for us as a nation to proceed,” and went on to say that “I believe we could change the policy to let gays and lesbians serve in the military.” Clinton also noted that former Senator Barry Goldwater “once said you don’t have to be straight to shoot straight. And I think he was right.”

Governor Bill Richardson also expressed support for the repeal and noted that, “I voted against it as a Congressman.” And former Senator Mike Gravel pointed to the experience of racial integration, saying that “Harry Truman . . . stood up to Omar Bradley when he integrated the services,” and that former President Clinton “should have demanded immediate integration” in 1993, when “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was implemented instead.

“The eight Democratic candidates have clearly shown they prioritize qualification over discrimination, as any commander-in-chief should,” said Sharra E. Greer, director of law and policy for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN).

“Our national security should not be compromised by prejudice, and our country’s commitment to equal opportunity should not be undermined by laws that discriminate. The 2008 Democratic field has taken a strong stand in favor of military readiness, and their Republican counterparts should join them. There is no justification for ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.'”

Since 1993, more than 11,000 service personnel have been dismissed under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” including nearly 800 with skills deemed ‘mission-critical’ by the Department of Defense.

Last week, Hillary Clinton followed Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama in releasing a statement supporting American gay Pride month.

“As we celebrate Gay and Lesbian Pride Month, I want to commend the LGBT community on a historic year that brought our country closer to equality and closer to ending discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans… I’m running for president to replace the divisive leadership of the past six years – leadership that views no issue and no family above the reach of politics.

“America deserves a president who appeals to the best in each of us, not the worst; a president who values and respects all Americans, gay and straight; a president who treats all Americans equally no matter who they are or who they love,” said Clinton.

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