Earlier today, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that he saw no roadblocks to formally repealing the ban on gay military members serving openly,” stressing that “if the military chiefs make their recommendation to move forward on the repeal before the end of the month, he will sign it.” Under that scenario, repeal would take effect as early as September. He added that “the training has gone well and people have been ‘pleasantly surprised’ at the lack of pushback from the troops.”
During tonight’s presidential debate in New Hampshire, however, five of the seven Republicans on stage rebuffed Gates and suggested that they would reinstate the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy:
— RICK SANTORUM: The military is “not for social experimentation.” Commanders should have a “system of discipline in place that punishes ‘bad behavior,’” he stressed.
— TIM PAWLENTY: Despite being the first presidential nominee to argue that he would bring back the policy and even go after the Congressional funding to implement repeal, Pawlenty stressed that he would listen to the commanders on the ground. “We’re in a nation in two wars. I think we need to pay deference to our military commanders, particularly our combatant commanders,” he said.
— MITT ROMNEY: “I believe it should have been kept in place until conflict was over.”
— NEWT GINGRICH: Even though the Pentagon’s comprehensive survey of the military attitudes found that 70 percent of service members responded they would be able to “work together to get the job done” with a gay service member in their immediate units, Gingrich managed to conclude that “the Army and the Marines overwhelmingly opposed changing [the policy].” He added that he would reinstate the policy, if asked to do so by the military.
— MICHELE BACHMANN: “I would keep the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy”.
Watch the exchange:
Only Ron Paul and Hermain Cain argued that they would not overturn the repeal.