Attorney Tom Carpenter, a former Marine Captain and longtime board member of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, wrote often about the effort to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell. On Sept. 21, 2010, the day the Senate took a critical vote on repeal, he was "shocked" that General James F. Amos said during his confirmation hearing to be the next Commandant of the Marine Corps that he opposed repeal of DADT, which the White House, the Defense Secretary and the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff publicly supported.
Marine Gen. John F. Amos (Photo from Wikipedia)
Amos repeated his opposition in Congressional testimony again in December 2010 during a last ditch effort to stymy President Obama's signing of the DADT Repeal Act. Amos said: “Successfully implementing repeal and assimilating openly homosexual Marines into the tightly woven fabric of our combat units has strong potential for disruption at the small unit level as it will no doubt divert leadership attention away from an almost singular focus on preparing units for combat.” He added, however, that Marines would obey the law. Carpenter wrote that the Marines not only followed - but lead the way in making changes.
In an interview with AP published Monday, Amos shocked again, essentially agreeing with Carpenter, calling the repeal that went into effect in last September “a non-event.” AP reports:
“I’m very pleased with how it has gone,” Amos said during a weeklong trip that included four days in Afghanistan, where he heard nary a word of worry about gays. During give-and-take sessions with Marines serving on in Helmand province, he was asked about a range of issues, including the future of the Corps - but not one about gays.
The Associated Press accompanied Amos on the trip.
In the AP interview, he also offered an anecdote from the home front to make his point that the change has been taken in stride.
He said that at the annual ball in Washington this month celebrating the birth of the Marine Corps, a female Marine approached Amos’ wife, Bonnie, and introduced herself and her lesbian partner.
“Bonnie just looked at them and said, `Happy birthday ball. This is great. Nice to meet you,’” Amos said. “That is happening throughout the Marine Corps.”
Looking back, Amos said he had no regrets about publicly opposing repeal during wartime. He said he had felt obliged, as commandant of the Corps, to set aside his personal opinions and represent the views of the 56 percent of combat Marines who told a Defense Department survey last year that repeal could make them less effective and cohesive in combat.
“I think I did exactly what I should have done,” Amos said. “I’ve never looked back on it and said it (his concern) was misplaced.”
Not only did Amos hear no talk about the repeal’s impact during his visit to Afghanistan, the subject also did not arise when he fielded questions from Marines on board the USS Bataan warship in the Gulf of Aden on Saturday.
In Bahrain on Sunday, one Marine broached the topic gently. He asked Amos whether he planned to change the Marines’ policy of leaving it to the discretion of local commanders to decide how to handle complaints about “homosexual remarks or actions.” Amos said no.
He said he is aware of only one reported incident in Afghanistan thus far, and that turned out to be a false alarm. He said a blogger had written of a gay Marine being harassed by fellow Marines for his sexual orientation. In an ensuing investigation, the gay Marine denied he had been harassed.
A Defense Department spokeswoman, Cynthia O. Smith, said implementation of the repeal of the gay ban is proceeding smoothly across the military.
(Crossposted at LGBT POV)