May 5, 2010 at 3:44 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
Obama's 'Don't Ask' plans unknown to Gibbs

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs sidestepped a series of questions from reporters Wednesday on President Obama’s plans on whether or not he’ll endorse repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” this year.

In a response to a Blade inquiry on whether the president was “ruling out” the possibility of Obama endorsing repeal as part of upcoming defense authorization legislation, Gibbs said he doesn’t know the answer and would need to “get some guidance” on the president’s plans.

The Advocate later asked whether Obama would be open to delayed implementation legislation — or a bill that would pass this year that would stop discharges at a later time. Gibbs again replied he didn’t know the answer to the question.

Gibbs’ answers come on the heels of a letter last week from Defense Secretary Robert Gibbs last week in which he said he strongly opposes repeal this year before the Pentagon completes its study on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” A White House statement issued shortly after says “the implementation of any congressional repeal will be delayed until the DOD study of how best to implement that repeal is completed.”

The complete exchange follows:

Blade: Robert, a question on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Just looking for some clarification on the Gates letter and the White House statement issued last week. Gates said in the letter that he strongly opposes any legislative action this year and the White House study talks about delaying implementation until after the DOD study.

Does this  mean the president is ruling out an endorsement of repeal this year as part of the defense authorization bill?

Gibbs:  Let me get some guidance on that. I don’t know the answer to that.

Advocate: Is the president potentially open to a scenario where Congress votes on repeal this year, but delays implementation of repeal until the Defense Department study comes out — in other words, deferring to the Department of Defense timeline on implementation of repeal?

Gibbs: I have not heard that, but I will get an update on whether that’s something that we have heard from the Hill or others around town. I don’t know the answer.

Advocate: Has the president spoken to Secretary Gates recently — since Friday — about “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”?

Gibbs: Not that I’m aware of.

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

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