WASHINGTON (AP) — Bucking the Pentagon’s top leaders, the chiefs of the Army and Marines urged Congress on Friday not to allow openly gay people to serve in the military, at least not while troops are at war in Afghanistan.
The generals publicly rebutted their own bosses and the White House, arguing that it is too risky to change the policy now. That gave political ammunition to congressional Republicans trying to retain the ban known as “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
“It’s important that we’re clear about the military risks,” said Gen. George Casey, the Army’s top officer. “Repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ would be a major cultural and policy change in the middle of a war.”
President Barack Obama has promised to jettison a policy he says is discriminatory, and asked Congress to repeal the 17-year-old law this year. Chances of that were slim to begin with, and they sank lower after Friday’s blunt assessment that lifting the ban would tear the close bonds of the foxhole. Democrats have promised a vote this month.
Both Casey and Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos undercut Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ claim that the change is not too dangerous.