Marine Corps chief: I’ll lead the drive to integrate gay Marines

The Senate hearings on DADT established him as the military’s chief critic of repeal, with Newsweek speculating this past weekend that he might even resign over the new policy. That would have been big, bad news if so, as it would have sent a signal down the chain of command that quitting in protest is a proper reaction. Instead he’s going the opposite way, setting an example by vowing to lead the integration efforts himself. There are a lot of reasons why he might feel compelled to do that — he’s worried about men choosing not to reenlist, he fears the danger of distractions to troops in the field and wants to minimize the disruption, and/or his sense of duty will allow him no other course — but I admire him for putting the country’s needs ahead of his own objections. Something both sides of the debate can agree on, I hope:

Here is Amos’ full statement:

Fidelity is the essence of the United States Marine Corps. Above all else, we are loyal to the Constitution, our Commander in Chief, Congress, our Chain of Command, and the American people. The House of Representatives and the Senate have voted to repeal Title 10, US Code 654 “Policy Concerning Homosexuality in the United States Armed Forces.” As stated during my testimony before Congress in September and again during hearings before the Senate Armed Services Committee earlier this month, the Marine Corps will step out smartly to faithfully implement this new policy. I, and the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, will personally lead this effort, thus ensuring the respect and dignity due all Marines. On this matter, we look forward to further demonstrating to the American people the discipline and loyalty that have been the hallmark of the United States Marine Corps for over 235 years.”

Here’s a fun new scare ad from Citizens United wondering whether so many troops might flee the service in protest of ending DADT that Congress will be forced to … bring back the draft. Answer: Er, no. If worse came to worst and manpower was depleted, the “solution” wouldn’t be conscription but rather accelerated withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan. The public long ago tired of both wars and we’re on our way out of both countries sooner rather than later anyway. But worse won’t come to worst, thanks in part to the example set by Amos and in part to the sense of duty of average troops. There may be an early spike in the number who refuse to reenlist in protest and there’ll surely be a few instances of harassment, but I think this Times piece surveying Marines for their reaction is probably a fair inkling of what’s to come. Plenty of misgivings, but few ultimatums. Exit quotation: “The first gay men (as the infantry is all male) are going to need very thick skins.”