Army Secretary John McHugh Withdraws from SUNY-Oswego Commencement Ceremony Over Planned ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Protest

Army Secretary John McHugh was to receive an honorary degree this Saturday at the State University of New York—Oswego's commencement ceremony but has pulled out because of a planned protest organized by a group called Citizens for Repeal.

The university reports:

"He informed college President Deborah F. Stanley of his decision Monday.

Referencing objections by some members of the campus community to his appearance, he explained, 'it is clear my presence at the ceremony might well have a disruptive effect.'

A number of faculty, staff and students had planned to wear buttons supporting repeal of the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, and a few students had more stridently objected to McHugh’s appearance and planned a protest.

The college had stood by its invitation to McHugh in expectation of an opportunity to demonstrate democracy in action. College officials engaged those protesting current policy and McHugh as its symbol. Stanley said she felt confident that the college administration and the potential protesters had reached a mutual accommodation intended to preserve the decorum of the day for graduates and their families while not squelching free expression on a timely issue that is a matter of debate across the nation."

You may recall that in April McHugh said he wouldn't pursue discharges of military service members who tell him they are gay, but later backtracked on that statement, saying he misspoke.