Admiral Mike Mullen used the word
“change” to describe President Obama's position on repeal of the
military's ban on open gay service.
At a National Press Club address
Wednesday, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike
Mullen said Obama would like to “change” the military gay ban,
also known as “don't ask, don't tell,” which prescribes discharge
for gay service members who do not remain celibate or closeted.
“I'm not a policy guy,” Mullen says
about the policy, then adds that Obama's “strategic intent is to
change this policy and this will take a change in the law.”
Recently, the White House has also
backed off from using the word repeal when discussing “don't ask,
In May, White House Spokesman Robert
Gibbs said: “To get fundamental reform in this instance requires a
legislative vehicle. The president made a promise to change the
policy; he will work with the Joints Chief of Staff, the
administration and with Congress to ensure that we have a policy that
works for our national interests.”
But shortly before the president's
inauguration, when asked if Obama would repeal the law, Gibbs
responded: “You don't hear politicians give a one-word answer much.
But it's yes.”
Last week, Defense Secretary Robert
Gates chimed in on the “change” conundrum when he said that the
Pentagon was looking into ways to make its ban on open gay service
Gates questioned the need to take
action against service members when they've been outed out of
vengeance or after being jilted.
“If someone is outed by a third party
… does that force us to take an action?” he asked.
“That's the kind of thing we're
looking at to see if there's a more humane way to apply the law until
the law gets changed,” Gates added.
Despite Obama's promise to repeal the
policy, 289 gay and lesbian soldiers have been discharged on Obama's
watch, according to the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, a group
that lobbies for repeal. And the increasingly liberal use of the
word “change” over “repeal” puts Obama's commitment to full
repeal into question.