Sgt. Maj. Micheal Barrett, top non-commissioned officer of the Marine Corps, has voiced what appears to be unequivocal support for the repeal of the military’s ban on openly gay service personnel, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT).
Barrett, recently selected to be an adviser to Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos, took a variety of questions whilst on a visit to bases in the Pacific, including questions on the repeal of DADT.
Given the Marines Corps’ highly publicized reticence over the repeal, and his superior General Amos’ outright opposition prior to the repeal law being signed, one might have expected Barrett’s support for retiring the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy to be lukewarm at best. Not so.
From The Washington Wire:
“Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution is pretty simple,” he told a group of Marines at a base in South Korea. “It says, ‘Raise an army.’ It says absolutely nothing about race, color, creed, sexual orientation.
“You all joined for a reason: to serve,” he continued. “To protect our nation, right?”
“Yes, sergeant major,” Marines replied.
“How dare we, then, exclude a group of people who want to do the same thing you do right now, something that is honorable and noble?” Sgt. Maj. Barrett continued, raising his voice just a notch. “Right?”
Barrett reportedly went on to speak about conversations with UK troops who were freed over a decade ago, and with little disruption, from their ban on openly gay personnel, adding that the US Army would continue to be “magnificent,” that the repeal simply meant service rules would be more fair, and that it was time to simply “get over it.”
Outgoing Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has suggested he would be ready to certify the repeal before leaving his post at the end of June. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Admiral Mike Mullen has also commented in an interview that certification of the repeal should happen “certainly” within the next two months.
Unfortunately, Republicans in Congress led by Rep. Duncan Hunter have tried to slow the repeal by attaching an amendment requiring all four service chiefs to sign off on the change to the House’s version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
The amendment did not make the Senate version of the NDAA, but, not to be unduly deterred, Republicans have now taken a different approach by writing to President Obama directly to warn that implementing the repeal without consulting Congress might be disastrous.
This perhaps hints at court action should Obama deny the House congressional oversight in this regard, though nothing has, to date, been explicitly mentioned.