WASHINGTON, D.C., April 2, 2014 ( — One of the nation's top military officials says President Obama told the heads of the Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, and Air Force to back his repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT) or “resign our commissions and go do other things.”

In a video published by Buzzfeed, Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Robert Papp told Coast Guard Academy cadets on January 8, 2014 that President Obama called in the five service heads in 2010 to let them know of his decision to focus on repealing DADT. That policy, which was repealed in 2011, had been enacted in 1994 with bipartisan support, including President Bill Clinton's signature. It allowed homosexuals to serve in the military as long as homosexual relationships and attractions were not made known, though discretion was given to company commanders.

Papp was speaking to the cadets about how officers should handle policies that they are required to uphold yet disagree with. Papp, who said getting rid of DADT was the right choice, described the president's words as saying “this is what I want to do.” The commandant said he could not “divulge everything [President Obama] said to us…but if we didn't agree with it — if any of us didn’t agree with it — we all had the opportunity to resign our commissions and go do other things.”


In 2008, then-Sen. Obama told The Advocate that he “would never make [DADT] a litmus test for the Joint Chiefs of Staff.” The presidential candidate said, “Obviously, there are so many issues that a member of the Joint Chiefs has to deal with, and my paramount obligation is to get the best possible people to keep America safe.”

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He also said, “What I want are members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who are making decisions based on what strengthens our military and what is going to make us safer, not ideology.”

Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Buzz Patterson, who served as a senior military aide to Clinton from 1996 to 1998, said, “[President] Clinton tried this same threat in the 1990s, but he ran into Colin Powell, who headed the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the time.” The compromise that was created became DADT.

“I've heard from military contacts that President Obama did indeed make this threat,” said Patterson, who said he would reach out to sources to verify Papp's claims. 

Retired Lt. Col. Gordon Cucullu told LifeSiteNews that “if [Papp's statement is] true and verified, that's almost a form of command intimidation and blackmail, which seems very unprofessional to me.”

Cucullu, who served in Vietnam and was a Green Beret, said there was an enormous difference between a president giving an ultimatum “us[ing] the military as a Petri dish for social experimentation” and “a critical aspect of national security.”

“There really wouldn't be dissension in the ranks, even if someone disagreed with the policy. As long as they were wearing the uniform, they would defend the policy,” says Cucullu. “But when it comes down to social engineering, what you're doing, in effect, is diminishing the role of Commander-in-Chief in terms of responsibility for national security, and delving into the kind of experimentation that really should not be the responsibility of the military.”

According to Cucullu, “The military is designed for one purpose — national security. Anything that detracts from that must be weighed on a cost-benefit analysis, as to the risks to the esprit de corps and the professionalism of the military itself.” Cucculu also said he believes “that with this administration in particular the professionalism is often ignored, but social experiments are acutely focused on. Including women in combat, DADT — there does seem to be a degree of intimidation that I think is at best unseemly, and at worst illegal, with these kinds of threats to careers if you don't support a social policy.”

President Obama repealed DADT in the face of strong resistance among many service members.