White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs refused to say whether President Obama would be willing to use his stop-loss authority to end discharges under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell should Congress fail to repeal the policy, telling the Advocate’s Kerry Eleveld “our efforts in the short term will be focused on the durable repeal of a law that the President thinks is unjust. And that’s where our focus will be.” Watch it:
Gibbs also addressed this afternoon’s meeting between LGBT advocates and the White House, telling the Washington Blade’s Chris Johnson that administration officials will express their “desire to see the defense authorization bill pending before the Senate taken up.” “That includes a repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, as the House has already voted on. The president wants the defense authorization act and that repeal passed,” Gibbs said. But when asked if the administration had pressured senators who voted against repeal last month to switch their votes, Gibbs admitted that it had not. “To my knowledge it has not taken place yet,” he said. “But the only way we’ll get something through the senate is to change the vote count and to move past — look, you’re going to have to get passed a promised filibuster and moving to the bill and certainly the only way we can move to the bill is to change some of those votes.”
Gibbs explained that advocates attending the meeting were told that they could not address the Justice Department’s ongoing defense of the policy before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals because “some of the participants in the meeting are with groups that are in litigation at the plaintiff where the United States government is the defendant.” “I don’t think either side believes that those type of conversations about the litigation between two parties represented in a lawsuit is appropriate in the meeting,” he said.
“The president continues to believe that this is a law — that the time for the ending of this law has come. The courts are signaling that. And certainly it has been his political belief going back to when I first met him in 2004,” Gibbs added.