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Obama Nominee Critical to DADT

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President Barack Obama intends to nominate Dr. Clifford L. Stanley as the undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness -- the position within the Defense Department that oversees the "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

"He is likely to be the president's key Pentagon player in the 'don't ask, don't tell' debate and will be critical for the president in getting military uniform buy-in," said Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the repeal lobby group Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.

Stanley served 33 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, became the Marines' first African-American regimental commander, and retired in 2002 as a two-star general. Most recently, Stanley was the president of Scholarship America, the nation's largest nonprofit, private-sector scholarship organization.

Stanley's history with the Marine Corps could be helpful in wooing the military since marines are known to have a particularly deep loyalty to each other as well as strong ties to Capitol Hill. Though Stanley's views on the military's gay ban are not certain, his interviews and speeches over the years demonstrate an unwavering commitment to diversity and an appreciation for the level playing field provided to him by the military.

In a 2001 speech
he made during African-American History Month, Stanley talked about the racism he still sometimes experienced despite his rank.

"I still feel it, still see it," Stanley told the audience. "For example, I'm the person who goes into the company office and the first sergeant does everything but pay attention to me. I'm the person who goes into supply and the sergeant and his NCOs continue to chitchat and drink coffee, kind of ignoring me."

Later in the speech, he concluded, "Things change, and that's one of the most beautiful parts of American society."

Stanley also knows the violent consequences of discrimination intimately. In 1975, he and his family were the victims of a racially motivated attack by a sniper who opened fire on their car, killing his uncle and leaving his wife paralyzed.

"That was the turning point where I thought I was going to have to cash it all in and at least move to something a little more stable," he said during a 1998 interview with Black Collegian. "My wife encouraged me to stay and we prayed on it. The Marine Corps actually worked overtime to keep me in. Again, the same environment you'd think would've been hostile reached out and grabbed me."

In the same interview he was asked if African-Americans risk losing their cultural identity in the military, and he responded, "I don't think anyone can remain successful if they forget who they are."

Stanley earned a doctorate of education from the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education; he holds a master's degree in counseling from the Johns Hopkins University, and a bachelor's degree in psychology from South Carolina State University.

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