Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Press Secretary Gibbs Grilled Over DADT While President Recommits to LGBT Issues

Yesterday, before the White House's commemoration of Stonewall, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was grilled yet again in a press briefing about Don't Ask Don't Tell. Keep in mind, shortly after this, President Obama to repealing the law, along with DOMA and many other discriminatory measures.

Thanks to Pam's House Blend for the transcript.
Q: Robert, I have a question on today's event in the East Room. On "don't ask, don't tell," how much is the President personally involved? I mean, I know you've said that he sort of turned that policy change over to the Pentagon and you're letting them and Congress work on that.

MR. GIBBS: I've said that -- I mean, the President hasn't, himself, been involved in meetings with the Pentagon. A solution has to include working with the Pentagon. But it's something that the President has been involved in since coming to this administration.

Q: How much of a priority is this for him?

MR. GIBBS: Well, it's something that --

Q: I mean, is there a timeline or --

MR. GIBBS: When we can get it done. The President has talked about this -- and I've talked about the fact that to have an enduring solution this had to be done legislatively. That, I think most people recognize, is going to take some time to do, working with both Congress and the Pentagon. I think the President will address this in remarks at the event a little bit later today.

Q: Change in policy?

MR. GIBBS: Pardon me?

Q: A change?

MR. GIBBS: No. But, again, in order to have that enduring solution, this is going to have to be done legislatively.


Q: Robert, today the President is going to celebrate Gay Pride at the White House for the first time. Even so, the gay community is somewhat divided over whether or not the President has done enough, the pace of change is enough. What does the President intend to say today, and can you talk a little bit about his thinking about how much he has to mollify a community that's been very supportive during the campaign?

MR. GIBBS: I appreciate the opportunity to comment on mollifying a community, but that's not the way the President looks at important issues. I think if you go back and look at the campaign -- either his campaign for the Senate or his campaign for the presidency -- he takes stands that he believes are consistent with his values.

We didn't play a lot of interest group-based politics in the presidential race, I think that was denoted by the fact that we didn't get a lot of endorsements in the presidential race.

The President makes those decisions, again, based on his values. I won't get ahead of what he's going to say later today, but he will, I think, address a number of issues and reaffirm the commitments that he's made.

Yes, ma'am.

Q: Following on that, the President has talked about repealing "don't ask, don't tell," and also the Defense of Marriage Act. So I'm wondering if you can tell me what specific steps has he taken to do this? What is his timeline for doing it? And also --

MR. GIBBS: I think we got a fairly similar question a minute ago, but I'll try to --

Q: -- there's legislation apparently moving through House to repeal "don't ask, don't tell," I think it's H.R. 1283, and he hasn't endorsed it. Why not?

MR. GIBBS: I can certainly talk to legislative affairs about what that piece of legislation would do. As I said earlier, the President has been involved in, personally, meetings on this topic with stakeholders, including those at the Pentagon.

Q: What about members of Congress?

MR. GIBBS: I don't know if he's met specifically with members of Congress on that. I know that -- I can try to get a list, I know that staff has worked here on the issue. It's a commitment that he intends to keep.

Q: Can you talk a little bit more about the meetings that he's had, what --


Q -- and how recent has he been in these meetings?

MR. GIBBS: Since January 20.
Shortly after the White House Stonewall reception, Gibbs appeared on Hardball and fielded even more questions.

I understand that Gibbs' job isn't a fun one, especially when answering difficult questions from the press. But man, to have a boss that keeps promising to get legislation passed to give rights to an "interest group" and then having to turn around and say nothing's really being done yet - well, I know I'd quit.

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