Obama Told Military Leaders: Accept Gays In Military Or Step Down, Admiral Says

In a 2010 meeting in the Oval Office, the president told service chiefs they could “go do other things” if they didn’t support abolishing DADT, Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Robert Papp said.

File: August 2010 / Pool / Getty Images

2. Updated — March 31, 7:30 p.m. ET:


In a meeting with the heads of the five service branches in 2010, President Obama offered the leaders a choice: Support my efforts to end the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, or resign, the Commandant of the Coast Guard said.

In a video obtained by BuzzFeed via a Freedom of Information Act request, Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Robert Papp revealed that Obama was unwilling to compromise with service leaders over DADT during a meeting in 2010. “We were called into the Oval Office and President Obama looked all five service chiefs in the eye and said, ‘This is what I want to do.’ I cannot divulge everything he said to us, that’s private communications within the Oval Office, 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,” he said.

Papp talked about the meeting during a Q&A session with U.S. Coast Guard Academy cadets following a leadership address to the corps on Jan 8. The admiral was asked how officers should respond to policies that they disagreed with but were required to enforce. “If I disagree morally with [a policy], it’s my obligation to voice that, regardless of the risk it might give my career,” he said. “I’ve been in those situations. I’ve been fortunate to have good leaders that have appreciated that.” Using himself as an example, Papp said it was OK for leaders to “not be thrilled” with a certain regulation, but if they didn’t “see anything terribly wrong with it,” it was their job as officers to support and enforce it.

The admiral, who will be retiring from active duty on May 30, added that he thought the U.S. military made the right decision by abolishing DADT.

In a 2008 interview, then-Senator Obama told The Advocate that he wouldn’t make support of DADt’s repeal “a litmus test” for his military leaders. “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.”

BuzzFeed has reached out to the White House for comment.

3. Admiral Papp discusses DADT at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn.:

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