McHugh Says View Has Changed on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

Posted June 5, 2009 at 11:13am

Rep. John McHugh (R-N.Y.), President Barack Obama’s nominee for secretary of the Army, is keeping mum on his position on the controversial “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell— policy barring openly gay people from serving in the military.But the former ranking member on the House Armed Services Committee, who voted in favor of the policy in 1993, said Thursday that a lot of things have changed since then, including his views.“I have no interest as either a Member of Congress or as … secretary of the Army to exclude by some categorization a group of people otherwise qualified to serve,— McHugh told Roll Call. He noted that the Armed Services Committee has not considered the policy “in any formal way— since 1993. In the meantime, “certainly, the recruiting-age population’s views have changed on that whole matter,— he said.Still, McHugh said he will refrain from giving his personal view on the policy until he is called into Senate confirmation hearings. “I want to defer to them. They have that right. To respond before they ask, I think, is disrespectful,— he said.Ultimately, McHugh said his personal opinions on the issue won’t count for too much. The role of the Army secretary, he said, is to gather the best information possible on the views of the armed services and provide it to the president. Obama has “made it very clear what his position is— on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, McHugh said. “He wants to find a way through this. It would be my responsibility to work under the direction of the commander in chief.—McHugh added that he can understand why people would “like to see a different policy and have it revisited.—He said his view on the issue would be “pretty much the same— if he were to continue being a Member of Congress.