Other speakers, including retired Army Maj. Gen. Dennis Laich said it would help the nation's military to repeal the law. He and 27 other retired high-ranking military leaders had signed a letter saying they supported pushing back the policy, he said.
Speaking on behalf of the other retired military leaders, Laich said, "12,000 patriots ... had their military service cut short by a failed policy called 'don't ask, don't tell,' and were individually harmed by the very nation they had sworn to protect."
Laich said the leaders support the comments of retired Gen. John Shalikashvili, who was the chairman of the Joint Chiefs under Clinton when the law was passed.
At the time, Shalikashvili supported the policy, believing that openly gay servicemen and women would hurt military cohesion. But in a New York Times editorial in January of this year, Shalikashvili said he was convinced the United States could abandon the policy.
"I now believe that if gay men and lesbians served openly in the United States military, they would not undermine the efficacy of the armed forces," he wrote.
Military vets, activists protest 'don't ask, don't tell' - CNN.com