Last year, Marine Commandant Gen. James Amos became the face of the opposition to the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, going so far as to argue that if Congress lifted the ban against open service and allowed gays to serve without hiding their sexual orientation, the Marines could be so distracted that they would die in the line of duty. But since President Obama signed repeal legislation on December 22, Amos has moderated his rhetoric and has now taken part in a video asking Marines to respect and accommodate the policy change:
AMOS: Above all else we are loyal to the Constitution, our Commander in Chief, Congress, our chain of command and the American people….I want to be clear to all Marines. We will step out smartly to faithfully implement this new law. It’s important that we value the diversity, background, culture and skills of all Marines bring to the service of our nation. As we implement repeal, I want leaders at all leaders to re-emphasize the important of maintaining dignity and respect for one another throughout our force.
Last week, in a sign that the Defense Department is moving to accelerate the process for certifying the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates instructed the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness to prepare a plan “to facilitate the timely and orderly realization” of certification by February 4, 2011. Significantly, DOD announced that it would not recognize the partners of gay servicemembers or establish a new non-discrimination policy across the armed forces.
Still, Amos’ support for an orderly implementation — the General did always stress that he would work to change the policy in an orderly fashion should Congress vote for repeal — takes the wind out of the sails of several conservative lawmakers who clung on to Amos’ remarks as a reason to preserve the policy and are now trying to slow-walk the certification process. In fact, Rep. Duncan Hunter Jr. (R-CA) and House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (D-CA) both cited Amos as a reason to oppose repeal and are now backing legislation to add the service chiefs to the certification process.