Pressed to clarify whether the intent of the year-long study was to bring the military leaders such as the service chiefs on board with repeal, Gibbs hinted that “whether you have unanimous agreement or not” among the military leaders isn’t necessary to move forward.
“The president has known where people have stood on this policy for as long as he’s supported changing that policy,” Gibbs said. “So, I think it will be important to again view the attitudes and to use those attitudes to craft a pathway to implementing a changed legislative policy.”
The service chiefs have heretofore been against the legislative effort to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” In May, the service chiefs of the Navy, Army, Air Force and Marine Corps sent a joint letter to Congress urging lawmakers to wait for the Pentagon report — now set for release on Nov. 30 — before taking action.
But in an interview Nov. 20 with the National Journal, Navy Chief of Staff. Adm. Gary Roughead reportedly praised the Pentagon report — and the surveys sent to 400,000 service members that were a component of that study — and said he’s “just trying to put it all in context.”
“I think the survey, without question, was the most expansive survey of the American military that’s ever been undertaken,” Roughead was quoted as saying. “I think the work that has been done is extraordinary.”
The last public statements of the Army and Air Force chiefs have them on the record as wanting to Congress to hold off before pursuing legislative action. Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos last month took on the mantle as head of his service, and he has spoken out against repeal.
A number of U.S. senators have said they’re awaiting testimony from military service chiefs before making a decision on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” In his defense of the law, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has emphasized that the service chiefs — in particular Amos — have asked Congress to hold off on legislative action. A spokesperson for Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) has recently said the senator is awaiting testimony from the service chiefs before making a decision on the issue.
Also during the news conference, Gibbs counted “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal among the legislative items that Obama wants to see happen during the lame duck session of Congress and argued that legislative action is better than having the courts overturn the law. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has committed to a vote on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” before the year’s end.
Top photo: President Obama will push for repealing the military’s gay ban even without support from the military’s Joint Chiefs, according to Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. (courtesy whitehouse.gov)