John M. Becker

Obama to Military Leaders: Accept DADT Repeal or Get Lost

Filed By John M. Becker | April 01, 2014 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Gay Icons and History, Politics
Tags: Barack Obama, BuzzFeed, Coast Guard, DADT, DADT repeal, Don't Ask Don't Tell, military

obama-dadt-repeal-gay-soldiers.jpgIn a 2010 meeting in the Oval Office, President Obama told leaders of all five branches of the military that when it came to repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" -- the policy barring LGB people from serving openly in the armed forces -- they had two choices: get on board or take a hike.

BuzzFeed's Ellie Hall, who broke the story, says the information comes from the soon-to-be-retired Commandant of the Coast Guard, Admiral Robert Papp. Papp gave a brief account of the meeting during a question-and-answer session with cadets at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in January. BuzzFeed obtained a video of that Q&A session via a Freedom of Information Act request.

Hall writes:

"...Obama was unwilling to compromise with service leaders over DADT during a meeting in 2010. 'We were called into the Oval Office and President Obama looked all five service chiefs in the eye and said, 'This is what I want to do.' I cannot divulge everything he said to us, that's private communications within the Oval Office, but if we didn't agree with it -- if any of us didn't agree with it -- we all had the opportunity to resign our commissions and go do other things,' he said...

"The admiral was asked how officers should respond to policies that they disagreed with but were required to enforce. 'If I disagree morally with [a policy], it's my obligation to voice that, regardless of the risk it might give my career,' he said. 'I've been in those situations. I've been fortunate to have good leaders that have appreciated that.' Using himself as an example, Papp said it was OK for leaders to 'not be thrilled' with a certain regulation, but if they didn't 'see anything terribly wrong with it,' it was their job as officers to support and enforce it."

According to Hall's report, Admiral Papp added that he supported the decision to get rid of DADT. And for good reason: the repeal of DADT has had no negative consequences whatsoever for the U.S. military, and there's been no negative impact on readiness, cohesion, recruitment, retention, or morale.

How cool that President Obama took such a firm stance in support of open military service for gay, lesbian, and bisexual servicemembers. Who knows, maybe if he called a meeting of House leadership and knocked heads together in a similar manner, we'd see some movement on ENDA!

Head over to BuzzFeed to read Hall's full report and watch the video footage of Admiral Papp discussing that Oval Office meeting.

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