June 6, 2011 | by Chris Johnson
White House not worried about delay in ‘Don’t Ask’ repeal

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney (Blade photo by Michael Key)

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Monday the Obama administration isn’t worried about a delay in certification of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal due to the arrival of a new defense secretary.

Carney dismissed fears expressed by LGBT advocates that waiting for certification until after Defense Secretary Robert Gates retires could lead to delays if his successor, CIA Director Leon Panetta, wants to examine the issue further before signaling the military is ready for repeal.

“We don’t share that concern,” Carney said in response to questioning from the Washington Blade.

Under the repeal law that President Obama signed in December, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” won’t be off the books until 60 days pass after the president, the defense secretary and the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff certify the military is ready for open service

Alex Nicholson, executive director of Servicemembers United, expressed concern over Carney’s response indicating a lack of worry about waiting for certification until after Gates retires.

“Given that at least three service branches are scheduled to be 100 percent done with repeal training by the time Secretary Gates leaves, it is simply not reasonable to leave this task unfinished and to pass the buck on to the new guy,” Nicholson said. “We have been patient in waiting until summer for certification, but any further delay beyond June is just unreasonable and will surely result in serious and widespread disappointment.”

Asked whether President Obama wants to see certification this month before Gates retires on June 30, Carney replied, “I think the process is moving at the pace that we anticipated and I also think that it’s the president’s policy and that it will be implemented regardless of who’s secretary of defense.”

Nicholson also disputed the notion that the administration has a handle on the pace with which “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal should proceed — noting speculation that the White House previously wasn’t planning on moving legislation forward until this year.

“The pace that the administration originally anticipated for tackling the repeal legislation itself — that is, 2011 — turned out to be a serious miscalculation,” Nicholson said. “I certainly hope they have learned to appreciate both our good judgment on timing and the unanticipated consequences of delay.”

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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