Obama: "Prepared to Implement"

President Obama spoke with The Advocate in a wide-ranging interview.

BY Kerry Eleveld

December 22 2010 3:35 AM ET

BARACK OBAMA MAIN (PETE SOUSA)

One quick follow-up. You’ve taken the oath of office, of course, to protect the Constitution.
This is true.

And so ...
But that does not mean that in every interview I opine on constitutional law.

No, but in fact you’ve opined on very few constitutional [questions] — I think, in this particular case, I think this is something that LGBT people would be hungry to hear you weigh in on.
I’m sure they would be.

Yes, OK. Back to “don’t ask, don’t tell” real quick. How long do you anticipate the certification process [will be]?
I spoke to Admiral Mullen today. He said he’s taking the implementation manual that was a companion to the attitudinal survey off to vacation with him. He is prepared to implement. I spoke to other of the service chiefs, including, for example, General Amos. We saw that in the attitudinal surveys there was the most resistance in the Marine Corps. But Jim Amos said to me that he’s ready to implement and he’s going to make it work.

So my strong sense is this is a matter of months…

Not years?
Absolutely not years — and that we will get this done in a timely fashion, and the chiefs are confident that it will get done in a timely fashion. They understand this is not something that they’re going to be slow-walking.

Once it’s lifted, of course, there’s no nondiscrimination mandate as it stands. Is that something that you plan to work with the Department of Defense on, setting some internal regulations so that there is a nondiscrimination protection for gays and lesbians, or even issue an executive order?
I think there are a whole range of implementation issues that are going to be worked through in the coming weeks, and so I don’t want to get too far ahead of the process. I want to make sure it’s very deliberate. I want to make sure that these guys have time to answer these questions. But one of the things I’m confident about in the military is, once a decision is made by the commander in chief, it gets carried out and it gets carried out well.

And when you think about what happened in terms of racial integration in the Army or in our military, when you look at women’s inclusion in our military, I think the history has been that there are bumps along the road; new issues arise that weren’t always anticipated — partly, by the way, because it wasn’t done as systematically as we’re going to — as I think we’re going to be able to carry out here — but to a remarkable degree, our military is able to inculcate a strong sense that everybody has got to be treated the same. And I have confidence that that will be true here as well.

So I’m going to be getting recommendations from them partly from tracking what was in the implementation recommendations — about how to move forward to make sure that everybody from the private to the four-star general knows sexual orientation is not a criteria by which they are treating people in a discriminatory fashion in the military. And I’m confident it’s going to be carried out.

So there’s going to be some way of having a nondiscrimination mandate somehow?
I am going to look exactly at what the recommendations are, and we will be making decisions over the next series of weeks about what is necessary to implement not just the letter but the spirit of this repeal.

Big-picture question about LGBT people and where the movement is headed. You’re sitting in the midst of a time that’s of great change. You’re not quite willing to go there on same-sex marriage yet. What do you see as something that moving forward would be one of the biggest possible advancements for LGBT people ...
Well ...

Potentially in the course of your presidency in the next two years?
Well, look, I would distinguish between things that should get done and I fully support but may still be stalled with a Republican-controlled Congress — or Republican-controlled House of Representatives that's not inclined to go there, versus things that can happen in society at large.

I have been struck — let me take the former — repealing DOMA, getting [the Employment Non-Discrimination Act] done, those are things that should be done. I think those are natural next steps legislatively. I’ll be frank with you, I think that's not going to get done in two years. I think that's — we’re on a three- or four-year time frame unless there’s a real transformation of attitudes within the Republican caucus.

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