General James Amos, the new commandant
of the U.S. Marine Corps, said Sunday that he opposes repeal of
“Don't Ask, Don't Tell,” the 1993 law that bans gay and bisexual
troops from serving openly.
replaced retiring General James Conway, who also opposes repeal,
told the Los Angeles Times his objections to repeal stem from
“There's a risk involved,” Amos,
who assumed the helm two week ago, said. “I'm trying to determine
how to measure that risk. This is not a social thing. This is
Amos is at odds with Secretary of
Defense Robert Gates and President Barack Obama, both of whom have
urged Congress to repeal the policy.
told reporters on Saturday that he would like to see repeal happen in
the upcoming lame-duck session of Congress, then added, “but I'm
not sure what the prospects for that are.”
During a post-election news conference
on Wednesday, the president said he sees an opportunity to repeal the
ban after the Pentagon delivers its study on repeal. The study,
which is due on December 1, includes a controversial survey of how
troops and their families feel about the issue. “That will give us
time to act, potentially, during the lame-duck session to change this
policy,” he said.
Amos argued that there is no parallel
in civilian life to the military.
“We're talking about young men –
laying out, sleeping alongside of one another and sharing death, fear
and loss of brothers,” he said.
Supporters of repeal are also urging
Congress to act before new members take their seats in January,
potentially closing the door on legislative repeal for the next two
“The Senate should call up the
defense bill reported out of committee and pass it before it goes
home for the year,” Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), the largest group
lobbying for repeal, said in a statement. “If the president,
Majority Leader [Harry] Reid, Secretary Gates, and a handful of
Republican senators are committed to passing the comprehensive
defense bill, there is ample time to do so.”
“Any talk about a watered down
defense bill, whereby the 'Don't Ask' revisions would be stripped
out, is unacceptable and offensive to the gay and lesbian service
members who risk their lives every day,” he added.
Republicans will take over control of
the House in January, and increase their numbers in the Senate,
making repeal much more difficult. Arizona
Senator John McCain has already pledged to filibuster any attempt at
repealing the Clinton-era policy.