January 31, 2010 at 11:04 am EDT | by Chris Johnson
Brown: military operations a priority over "Don’t Ask" repeal

Newly elected U.S. Senator-elect Scott Brown declined on Sunday to state his personal position on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and was seemingly inclined to oppose repeal of the law until he hears from “generals on the field” on the issue.

The Republican senator-elect, who won a suprisingly victory Jan. 19 in a Massachusetts special election, expressed concerns about repealing the ban on open service on ABC’s “This Week” when guest host Barbara Walters asked him whether the law should be overturned.

Brown said military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan should take priority over consideration of  gays serving openly in the U.S. military and said he needs input from those in charge of service members overseas before he can state his position on what he called “social change.”

“I think it’s important because, as you know, we’re fighting two wars right now and the most — first priority is to finish the job and win those wars,” Brown said. “I’d like to hear from the generals in the field — in the field, the people who actually work with these soldiers to make sure the social change is not going to disrupt our ability to finish the job and complete the wars.”

When Walters further asked whether he could state his personal position on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” Brown replied, “No, I’m going to wait to speak to the generals on the ground.”

Brown’s win earlier this month gives him claim to the Senate seat formerly occupied by late Edward Kennedy, who during his tenure in the Senate had expressed interest in being the sponsor of legislation that would repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

President Obama last week during his State of the Union address pledged to work this year with Congress and military leaders to accomplish his campaign promise to end the law prohibiting gays from serving openly in the U.S. military.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen are set on Tuesday to testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee on the issue. The Pentagon is also reportedly planning this week to unveil new details on a plan to implement Obama’s objective to repeal the law.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

  • What the Hell were the people of Massachussetts thinking when they elected the conservative gay-bashing clown? For whatever reason, it seems like the people in Massachussetts go crazy every few years and put a right-wing Republican in there like Mit Romney. This guy will also probably oppose us on ENDA and the Domestic Partnership Benefits & Obligations Act too, in addition to opposing same-sex marriage and a repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. How many years until he’s up for re-election 3 or 5?

  • When I watched the Barbara Walters interview, it looked to me that Brown was searching for a political strategy to vote against repealing DADT without upsetting to many Massachussetts voters. Tim: Senators serve six-year terms.

  • He is up for re-election in 2012 as he was elected in a special election.

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