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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, April 4 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 14
Support DADT repeal or get out, Obama told Joint Chiefs
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Support DADT repeal or get out, Obama told Joint Chiefs

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

President Obama told the Joint Chiefs of Staff that if they would not support his decision to end the military's 'Don't Ask Don't Tell' policy, they should resign 'and go do other things,' according to a story on the BuzzFeed blog.

In a video BuzzFeed obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Robert Papp revealed that Obama met with the five service branch heads in 2010, and told them flatly, 'This is what I want to do.'

'I cannot divulge everything he said to us, that's private communications within the Oval Office, but if we didn't agree with it-if any of us didn't agree with it-we all had the opportunity to resign our commissions and go do other things,' Papp said.

In a question and answer session after a January 8 address to Coast Guard Academy cadets, Papp spoke about the meeting with the President, and what an officer should do if he or she disagreed with a policy of the Commander-in-Chief.

'If I disagree morally with [a policy], it's my obligation to voice that, regardless of the risk it might give my career,' he said. 'I've been in those situations. I've been fortunate to have good leaders that have appreciated that.'

Using his own experience with DADT as an example, Papp said it was fine for leaders to 'not be thrilled' with a certain regulation, but if they didn't 'see anything terribly wrong with it,' it was their job as officers to support and enforce it.

The U.S. military made the right decision by abolishing DADT, the admiral added. Papp is scheduled to retire from active service on May 30.

Obama's blunt talk to the Joint Chiefs contrasts with the performance of Bill Clinton in 1993, when intense lobbying by the military chiefs - including then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Colin Powell - led Clinton to back down from his stated objective of allowing Gay and Lesbian service members to serve openly.

DADT was, at that time, Clinton's fallback position. The policy was codified in Defense Directive 1304.26, which ordered that service members were neither to be asked about their sexual orientation nor to reveal it.

Some observers speculate that Clinton's retreat on open service for Gay and Lesbian military personnel emboldened his political enemies, and led to further defeats for his administration on healthcare reform and other initiatives.

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