The largest group lobbying for repeal
of “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” has criticized Arizona Senator John
McCain for dismissing a Pentagon report on the issue as flawed.
McCain, the ranking Republican on the
Senate Armed Services Committee, has previously suggested he would
back repeal of the law that bans gay and bisexual troops from serving
openly if a majority of service members agreed.
Citing two unidentified sources
familiar with an upcoming Pentagon report on repeal, the Washington
Post on Thursday reported that more than 70 percent of
respondents to a questionnaire sent to more than 40,000 active-duty
and reserve troops over the summer said the effect of lifting the gay
ban would be positive, mixed or nonexistent.
But speaking Sunday on Meet the
Press, McCain told host David Gregory that he still opposes
repeal because the study was flawed.
“I will stand that I want a thorough
and complete study of the effect on morale and battle effectiveness
on the United States military,” McCain said. “I will listen, as
I've said for years, to our military leaders and not a, not a study
that is leaked – as we know this town's pretty good at that.”
“We have people like the commandant
of the Marine Corps, the three other – all four service chiefs are
saying we need a through and complete study of the effects – not
how to implement a repeal, but the effects on morale and battle
effectiveness. That's what I want.”
“And once we get this study, we need
to have hearings, and we need to examine it, and we need to look at
whether it's the kind of study that we wanted. It isn't in my view,
because I wanted a study to determine the effects of the repeal on
battle effectiveness and morale.”
McCain has already pledged
to filibuster any attempt in the Senate to repeal the Clinton-era
for the senator say he's working to strip the repeal amendment from
the defense bill.
“Sen. McCain is clearly out of touch,
not only with the American people, but also the Pentagon and our
troops,” Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of Servicemembers Legal
Defense Fund (SLDN), said in a statement.
“McCain seems to be saying he wants a
do-over because he doesn't like the findings and recommendations in
the Pentagon report going to Secretary [of Defense Robert] Gates. In
other words, McCain is telling the Pentagon: Keep working until you
produce the outcome I'm looking for.”
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the
nation's largest gay rights advocate, also criticized McCain for his
“irrational opposition to open service.”
“No matter the evidence, McCain will
use whatever tactics at his disposal to not only stop repeal from
moving forward, but will hold hostage the most critical military
defense bill to do so,” Joe Solmonese, president of the group, said
in a statement.
senator also addressed his wife's apparent flip-flop on the issue,
saying he respects “the First Amendment rights of every member of