Ex-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld Admits To Not Understanding Gay Marriage, Says He Supports 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' for Military

By Staff Writer | May 22, 2013 05:48 PM EDT

Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said this week that he didn't really understand the question of gay marriage rights, while he can support the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy for the United States military. 

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Speaking during a television interview with Larry King, Rumsfeld spoke about his support for repealing the military's "don't ask, don't tell" gay exclusion policy, before conceding that he was more conflicted about marriage equality, as reported by the Huffington Post.

"You know, I'm, I guess, of a generation that I don't ... I listened to some of the Supreme Court justices and one of them said, 'Well what's next after that? Is it two people, three people?'" the 80-year-old Rumsfeld told King, referencing a question raised by Justice Sonia Sotomayor during a case over California's Proposition 8 gay marriage ban earlier this year.

King noted Rumsfeld's work for civil rights during his time in Congress, but the former Illinois congressman said he considered gay rights a separate issue.

"I guess I just don't equate the two," Rumsfeld said. "It's not a subject I'm knowledgeable about. I guess the Rumsfeld rule here is: I don't know."

After leaving the George W. Bush administration, Rumsfeld invited speculation about his views on gay rights when he wouldn't directly endorse Bush's anti-gay positions, instead opting for a more vague answer, the Huffington Post said.

"The administration has positions on these things," he told GQ magazine in a 2007 interview when asked about gay marriage. "And if you're part of the administration, you're supportive of the administration."

During the television interview, King reminded Rumsfeld that he was a proponent of civil rights in the 60s. Rumsfield said that he doesn't necessarily view gay marriage as part of a larger civil rights agenda.

Rumsfeld said he doesn't have any animosity towards homosexuals. In a previous question on the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, he said its repeal was only a matter of time. He points out that homosexuals have served in the military for decades, and that they served their country well.

That being said, he thinks that the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell will be tougher in certain parts of the military. He predicts that it will be easier to implement openly gay service men and women in the Air Force and Navy, but cautions that implementation among ground forces may be a little trickier. In other words, he worries that unit cohesion, or the ability of a troop to work together as a whole, may be impacted negatively if soldiers respond negatively to openly gay squad mates, according to reporting on



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