New U.S. Marine Commandant: Keep ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ Robert Gates Urges Immediate Repeal

General James Amos, who two weeks ago succeeded James Conway as Commandant of the Marines, has a very similar perspective on "don't ask, don't tell" to that of his predecessor. Amos is publicly stating that he does not want the policy repealed due to a "possible loss of unit cohesion and combat readiness." He has made similar statements about DADT in the past.

Amos The LA Times reports:

"There's risk involved," Amos said. "I'm trying to determine how to measure that risk. This is not a social thing. This is combat effectiveness."

In August, during his last visit with troops in Afghanistan, Conway repeatedly asked gatherings of enlisted Marines throughout Helmand province whether they thought unit cohesion would be harmed if openly gay people could serve. Almost unanimously, the young Marines indicated they felt it would.

Combat, Amos said, is an "intimate" experience without parallel in civilian life. "We're talking about our young men — laying out, sleeping alongside of one another and sharing death, fear and loss of brothers," he said.

Amos, 63, said he was reviewing the results of a poll of military members and their families about the potential effects of lifting the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. He declined to characterize the findings. Amos said that, unlike other services, the Marine Corps requires many of its members to share rooms while in garrison. That complicates the issue, he said.

Meanwhile, reacting to last week's election results, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is not optimistic about the possibility of overturning DADT.

According to the AP, "Gates said Congress should act quickly, before new members take their seats, to repeal the military's ban on gays serving openly in the military." He added: "I would like to see the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" but I'm not sure what the prospects for that are."


  1. Dan Cobb says

    This man is a lowlife …
    he parades himself publicly in front of a group of soldiers in Afghanistan and asks a question like:

    Would adding gay men to your unit affect unit morale and cohesion?

    I’ll bet the majority of those soldiers felt it wouldn’t but felt peer-pressure (and “General” pressure) to say that they did. What are they going to say in a group setting?

    Typical military.

  2. bobbyjoe says

    Robert Gates said repealing DADT could have “enormous consequences,” so we must go slowly. Slowly, slowly. Wait for the survey! Wait for the survey!

    The survey has arrived! Oops. Too late.

    Gosh, who could ever have predicted this was exactly what would happen?

  3. Matt says

    I can’t believe this is still being discussed. Ridiculous. Outrageous.

    I have no interest in serving in their idiotic wars-about-nothing, but for God’s sake, I should obviously have the option the same as any other American.

    They’re talking about us like we’re aliens with acid for blood.

  4. Jersey says

    Did that fucking moron Obama appoint him? I voted for Obama but now to me he’ll never be anything but a fucking moron.

  5. says

    The LGBT community has wasted countless hours and dollars on this. DADT is here to stay.

    And why in hell should we care? Why in hell should we fight in wars for oil when we don’t even have basic job protection? Why should we fight for a country that in every way shape or form contiues to regard us as second-class AT BEST?

    When I was called up for the draft (which you children don’t have to deal with anymore) I was FUCKING PROUD to be able to check “Yes” in naswer to the query “Do you have homosexual tendencies?”

    “Tendencies? Darling in Kindergarden I had tendencies. Now I’m fully grown and in Full Flame tHAnkyoueverymuch.” And so I was denied the exquisite pleasure of going to Vietnam, killing all manner of people who didn’t want us there and/or bEIng killed by them.


  6. Bobo says

    There’s a risk that I have yet to determine, but there is a risk? Geesh, no wonder we have been losing wars for the past 40 years!

  7. John says

    There’s just no way to sugarcoat this bungled appointment.

    Did they bother to vet him at all beforehand?

    Even if this were about war strategy and not DADT, the fact remains that President Obama picked someone to lead the Marines who contradicts his Commander-in-Chief in public and undermines presidential authority. That says volumes about the President’s leadership abilities (or lack thereof).

  8. ichabod says

    Guess that whole “kick the can down the road” approach to civil rights worked really well for Obama…

  9. Forrestabbey2 says

    The thing I find most interesting about all of the “homophobia” that is touted by the military out there is that it seems to based on the premise that a died in the wool heterosexual couldn’t resist initiating sexual congress with a homosexual and that then they would all be engaging in orgies rather than waging war against people we don’t agree with. (Sorry, couldn’t resist inserting that in there.) Heterosexual soldiers of both genders (presumably “straight” have been serving openly in the armed services for some decades now and there doesn’t seem to be a lack of unit “cohesion”. It also seems to indicate that most men seem to believe that every other living thing on the planet is trying to score on their sexuality. That serving in a military where there are other people look at them in a sexual way would liken them to the women that they serve with every day and cannot control their unbridled lust. Wait…

  10. X says

    If gays aren’t welcome, then they should find a new country to defend. Apparently only the homophobes get free run of the country. Fuck them.

  11. X says

    And if this is how they handle friggin’ GAYS, no wonder the wars have been going how they are. UGH. Talk about lack of leadership! Where are the balls of this country and this military? The brains and the will?! I thought America fought for good! The home of the brave apparently likes to encourage the brave to leave.

  12. JOE 2 says

    @ David Ehrenstein:

    Like you, I have never wanted to serve in the military; in fact, I would rather pick out my own liver with a shrimp fork than enlist. I, however, am fortunate in that my parents could afford to send me to an Ivy League school, where I received a good education. Many people are not so fortunate and, for them, enlisting in the military is literally their only potential ticket out of poverty and their only hope for obtaining a college or graduate degree.

    That’s one reason why we should care.

  13. major707 says

    Our fierce advocate of a President couldn’t lead himself out of a wet paper bag! This failure is his and his alone. Until gays stop being the “abused wife” of the Democratic Party this is our lot in life.
    Faith in Democrats without action on their part is a wasted vote. The only real power we have is our wallet and our vote. Withhold both until Democrats stop taking us for granted.

  14. anon says

    It would make perfect sense to allow gay men and women to server in the various branches in a rolling fashion, starting with the Coast Guard, Navy, Army, Air Force and finally the Marines. If done over four years there shouldn’t be too much fuss. I doubt anyone is too worked up about gays in the Coast Guard.

  15. Bobby says

    What are they leading, soldiers or politicians? A solider does what he or she is told. If the commanding officers command respect for everyone, the soldiers MUST comply. What’s the problem? Oh, I know, it’s the commanding officers with the bigoted, homophobic views who can’t accept equality in the armed forces, NOT the soldiers.

  16. says

    “We’re talking about our young men — laying out, sleeping alongside of one another and sharing death, fear and loss of brothers,”

    He’s already forgetting the almost 7% women marines.
    When women are far more likely to be thrown out under DADT.
    Idiot on so many levels.

  17. says

    The LA Times is reporting Conway’s claim that most troops would have a problem with gay men and lesbians serving openly in the military as fact, when it’s just Conway’s claim and is contrary to a lot of other reports on troops’ attitudes. We’re in an era of such sloppy journalism where the press simply doesn’t call the government on their bullshit anymore. We need journalists to behave as such and call our government out on their lies. In a case like this at least say “Conway said the troops thought unit cohesion would be harmed.”

    Of course this is all really about the gay marriage issue. Once we have openly gay men and women risking their lives for this country, it will be that much harder to deny them marriage rights when they come back home.

    Despite all the bad news about DADT, I am encouraged by the next generation which will not have a problem with gays in the military or gay marriage. This is the last wheezing gasp of unmitigated bigotry.

  18. Jaybird89101 says

    This entire approach to ending DADT has been idiotic, lame, and, for the GLBT community, just plain embarassing. I fear it’s too late to make the change for many, many years. Furthermore, why is this homophobic Marine permitted to publicly countermand the direction of the President/Commander-in-Chief and the Secretary of Defense? It’s bullshit. Can the SOB before he does any more damage to civilian control of the military.

  19. says

    If “enlisting in the military is literally their only potential ticket out of poverty and their only hope for obtaining a college or graduate degree” then we are not a free people, we are slaves.

    And I don’t believe that for a minute.

    “Obtaining a college or graduate degree” is the bait on the end of the hook. After you’re on said hook — well that’s QUITE a different story.

  20. justiceontherocks says

    Unless someone can think of a way to make conservative democrats and the republicans want to repeal this, it ain’t gonna happen. This was never a priority for the “fierce advocate” and even if it was he now lacks the political capital to pull it off.

    I won’t even go into what a lousy job the ‘advocacy” groups did on this. The results speak for themselves.

  21. terry says

    As it is, I imagine the general is suggesting that every night when men are “laying out, sleeping alongside of one another and sharing death, fear and loss of brothers,” they must now do so in a climate of distrust since the person next to them may be living a life in the shadows and lie about who they are. DADT creates a unit that contains members who are forced to lie to their brother’s in arms in order to serve their country. Is this best for unit cohesion? Next he will critize these soliders for being liars for hiding their orientation.

  22. Continuum says

    Fucking unbelievable.

    If Obama were serious about getting rid of DADT, he would never have allowed this man to become commandant.

    The fact that this douchebag feels free to publicly criticize the President’s stand, is just more proof that we GLBT didn’t get the man we thought we had voted for.

    Come 2012 there will be some changes comin’ in who I support for President. And, the name won’t be Obama.

  23. Contrarian says

    @continuum. Have you ever read American history? Heard of Lincoln and Gen. McClellan? Truman and MacArthur? Now there’s insubordination. This is a walk in the park by comparison.

    Look, there is no one more disappointed by the abject spinelessness of this administration on ALL fronts than me. The crazy right long ago marked Barry as a pushover and sadly they’re right. However, where do you think Obama and Gates were supposed to find a four star Marine who is anything but an ultraconservative? This administration’s push-over image makes dissent in the ranks predictable.
    As for 2012, if you stay home the people who want you dead (preferably after torture) win. It’s a 2 party world in the U.S. We are not Europe with a multitude of parties. Hold your nose and vote.

  24. walter says

    it is now time for all LGBT servicemen to resign figure it out these people hate you. let them find hetros who will serve. i served in vietnam and now am starting to become very disappointed in my country. why am i a 2nd class citizen? to those of you now serving think about the government has let us down. to those obamaites who told us to wait he would do what he promised drink the koolaid. he appointed a homophobe as commendant of the marine corps and let the repeal of DADT slip away. and to the 31% of gays who voted for repuks look in the mirror

  25. says

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO Gates did NOT “urge immediate repeal”!!!!!!!!! NONSENSE! The hacks at the AP, as usual, are reporting things that didn’t happen. I can’t find anywhere that Gates actually said anything more than he’d like to see it repealed but isn’t sure it can be. And anyone who thinks this Repug thug ….whose intent ALL ALONG was to push the vote into the lame duck session…actually wants discharges to end hasn’t been paying attention.

    The timing of the comments by the latest Commandant Asshat less than two weeks before Congress goes back to work is no accident, kids, however sad that Corps “leadership” keeps disgracing its men and women, rewriting the lyrics of the Marine Hymn to, “First to fight for [fear and prejudice], and to keep [bigotry alive, they] are proud to claim the title of United States Marine.” No branch was more against racial integration than the Marines. In April of 1941, Marine Commandant Maj. Gen. Thomas Holcomb said, “If it were a question of having a Marine Corps of 5,000 whites or 250,000 Negroes, I would rather have the whites,” adding later that the Marine Corps was then simply too small to form racially separate units.

    And, predictably, he also opposed adding more women to the service. It was said that during a dinner party in October 1942, a photo of 5th Commandant of the Marine Corps, Archibald Henderson, fell from the wall when someone asked Holcomb, “What do you think of having women in the Marine Corps?”

    In 1992 and 93, then Marine Commandant Carl Mundy was the most rabidly opposed of all the Joint Chiefs to lifting the ban. He personally distributed multiple copies of the homohating video “The Gay Agenda” to others in the military and members of Congress. Some Marine brass came out of retirement to fight the ban, one calling gays “walking depositories [sic] of disease,” spoke of the Corps attitude toward “queers, thieves, and cowards,” and predicted a Marine insurrection if the ban ended. One officer suggested the Marine Corps should disband rather than be forced to let gays serve.

    Most will probably remember that it was just three years ago that the then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Peter Pace, defended the ban and added he thought homosexuality “immoral.” He, too, was a Marine. Though SECDEF Gates said at the time Pace shouldn’t have interjected his “personal opinion,” note that Gates undoubtedly recommended his antigay, pro ban successors, first “Separate Rooms” Conway, and now Amos. Note, too, that President Obama approved Amos for Commandant.

    These are the type of relative indices by which we must interpret the sincerity of opposite claims, such as those by the POTUS and the SECDEF that they WANT the ban to end. One could take the proverbial high road and say that both are simply being democratic in allowing Conway, Amos, and other top brass to express dissent. BUT the military is NOT a democracy, and these dissenters report directly or indirectly to Obama and Gates.

    Recall, too, the brief puff of dust when Lieutenant General Benjamin Mixon, commanding general of the US Army Pacific, wrote the following to “Stars & Stripes”:

    “It is often stated that most servicemembers are in favor of repealing the policy. I do not believe that is accurate. Now is the time to write your elected officials and chain of command and express your views. If those of us who are in favor of retaining the current policy do not speak up, there is no chance to retain the current policy.”

    Again, Gates paid lip service to Mixon having done the wrong thing but he wasn’t in any way reprimanded for what was, IMNSHO, a clear violation of the spirit if not the letter of federal law and DoD policy.

    Thursday is Veterans Day. Honor all those who’ve served and do serve…particularly those forced to in silence….by calling the White House at 202-456-1414 or writing at and telling Obama to stop TALKING about ending the discharges and just DO it using his powers under federal law 12305 in the name of national security.

  26. Troy says

    Obama’s agreement to Amos’s appointment didn’t keep me from voting for most democrats this time around, but it sure did keep me from donating and/or campaigning for them the way I did in ’08. I’ll never forget the conversation I had with a volunteer recruiter, Kieth, this fall. I had agreed reluctantly to help out, then Amos’s appointment was announced. When Kieth called me back to give me my assignment I told him when Obama could make smarter hiring decisions, I’d consider hopping back on the work bus.

  27. jason says

    General James Amos is a hideous creature. He ought to be dismissed from his position. His thinking is stuck in the past. You only have to look at how gays serve openly in many overseas countries to see that it’s a non-issue.

    As for DADT repeal, the whole thing is a dog and pony issue. You gays have been had. Obama and the Democrats have tricked you yet again. You’re the most gullible community that has ever existed.

    Sad to think that you never learned your lesson from that other fraud, Bill Clinton.

  28. Kyle Sullivan says

    I don’t know why everybody’s upset. This whole Kabuki play is going exactly like the White House wanted it to go — meaning there will be no repeal of DADT. I don’t care what Gates says; I care what he does — and he has done nothing to truly advance the possibility of ending this disgraceful policy. Neither has Obama. Nor have the Democowards. And now with the Repugnicans in power in the House, it’s out of Obama’s hands and he can SAY anything he wants about it, knowing full well it will never be repealed.

    I hate to agree with a GOP scumbag like McConnell, but Obama should be a one-term president. Period. Let’s put in somebody who’s progressive and has balls, for a change.

  29. jason says

    Gay men are already sleeping next to straight men in the military. I haven’t heard of it leading to harassment. General Conway’s fear-mongering is plain wrong and reflects poorly on him as an individual.

  30. Brian says

    These fools so need to get a grip. This isn’t about gays serving, it never was. It’s about the others knowing about it. I know several gay Marines. Marines do as they’re ordered, that’s one of the reasons why they’re Marines. If they’re willing to take a bullet but so pansy-assed as to worry about what happens if they drop the soap in they shower, they don’t need to be Marines.

  31. TANK says

    AMOS: Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. Obama is no lincoln, so these disagreements indicate that he, unlike lincoln, can’t keep his house in order.

    Dean 2012!

  32. chrissypoo says

    Why is the Marine Corps Commadants so against repealing don’t ask don’t tell?

    This might be some of the reasons:

    I can think of at least 4 out of the past 5 military gay porn scandals involved marines.

    Hell, I messed around with plenty of marines. While many of them didn’t identify as gay, they certainly didn’t think of having sexual relations with a man as something that was really bad.

    Marines are very homoerotic when they are together and this general probably knows that it will stop if out gay people are allowed in.

  33. More BS says

    I don’t know who’s the bigger coward: Conway or Obama? It’s a fierce race to the bottom.

  34. MJ says

    The irony that Gates, the only hold over from the Bush admin is the only person in the Obama admin that seems to actually want DADT repealed. WTF

  35. breckroy says

    I think it will he ironic if the results of the military’s 9 month working group, which included the Survey comes back saying it’s no big deal if the repeal happens. the leak of the survey results, in which everyone but the marines said it was essentially cool with them gives me hope that the report, due Dec 1 will say there’s no there there and that the military can handle this change with minimal impact. If that happens, we could probabl pick up two or three senators and that’s all we need to lift the ban. So I’ve got my fingers crossed the report will basically say “eh…”

  36. Paul says

    i love how they mask homophobia with unit conhesion. this fucker needs to retire and we need to take back our country from assholes like this!! homophobic assholes!!

  37. says

    @ Breckroy: with respect, you’re suffering from the same delusion that most everyone else is: that, if the results of the survey, designed to suggest segregation and create a kind of gay panic about showers, etc., are pro open service Gates will tell the truth. The fact is that he was repeatedly accused by people who worked with him when he was at the CIA of slanting reports to suit his own positions.

    Further, it amazes me how quickly people forgot that there have been TWO opposing “leaks,” the first obviously by someone who doesn’t want the ban to end:

    “The task force found DEEP RESISTANCE to the idea of repealing the law in some elements of the armed services, especially within the combat units, an officer familiar with the findings said.” – “Los Angeles Times,” October 13, 2010 [emphasis mine].