Commandant of U.S. Marine Corps: “Repeal Could Cost Lives”

Dec 21, 2010
Defense Drumbeat
Proponents of Repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Quickly Move to Silence Dissent as the House Prepares to Reject the Concerns of Three of the Nation’s Four Military Chiefs

Washington, D.C. (December 15, 2010)—Proponents of repealing the Pentagon’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law yesterday demanded that the Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps either “fall in line and salute” or “resign now” after the nation’s top Marine “expressed concern that repealing ‘don’t ask, don’t tell; could cost Marine lives.” 

As reported by Politico, U.S. Marine Commandant General Jim Amos “told reporters Tuesday that he was concerned that allowing gay or lesbian service members to serve openly could disrupt combat operations and have fatal consequences.”  Specifically, General Amos told a media roundtable at the Pentagon yesterday that “’Mistakes and inattention or distractions cost Marines lives...That’s the currency of this fight… I don’t want to lose any Marines to the distraction.’”

Politico reported that “Amos has said he separates his personal views about homosexuality with what he thinks is right for the Corps, and Marines do have more negative views than other service members [on] serving with openly serving gays or lesbians. Negative views of open service are also higher among combat forces.”

While Speaker Pelosi prepares to force the House of Representatives to vote on a standalone “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal later today, proponents of overturning the law were quick to attack General Amos yesterday for daring to lend a voice to more than 60 percent of the Marines who have concerns about repealing the law. 

The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network released a statement calling on General Amos to “’fall in line and salute or resign now.’”  A spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign told General Amos to listen “’to his bosses’” while the White House press secretary tried by sweep aside concerns raised by General Amos, the Air Force Chief of Staff and the Army Chief of Staff at a Senate hearing earlier this month on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” by pointing to other top Defense officials who support repealing the law.

The incoming Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), immediately stood up for the right of General Amos to offer his best military judgment while criticizing those who are attempting to silence the Commandant.

“The chiefs of the military services are bound by duty and law to provide the Commander-in-Chief and Congress with their best military judgment.  Attacking any of them for doing so is a direct assault on the civilian-military relationship that is the bedrock of the world’s premier fighting force.  Those who want to hastily repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ may not want to hear what General Amos has to say, but the Commandant represents the views of more than 240,000 Marines and their families,” said McKeon.

“The U.S. Congress should delay action on repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ exactly because of the concerns General Amos and the chiefs of the Air Force and Army have raised.  If there is any chance that repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ could negatively impact our nation’s fighting force, then we—as Members of Congress—have a duty to conduct the necessary oversight to ensure these concerns are addressed before enacting a change of this magnitude,” concluded McKeon.


111th Congress