Sen. Durbin Ducks Question of Whether He Accepts Marine Commandant's Judgment That Lifting DADT Will Cost Marines' Lives

By Dan Joseph | December 17, 2010 | 11:29 AM EST

Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin (D-Ill.). (AP File Photo/Harry Hamburg)

( – Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) did not directly respond when asked Thursday whether he accepted the judgement of Gen. James Amos, the Marine Commandant, that lifting the ban on homosexuals in the military will cost the lives of Marines.

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said he would “have to consider” Amos’s view “during my vote."

The House of Representatives voted on Wednesday to repeal the law (Title 10, USC 654) that bars homosexuals from serving in the military and the Senate is expected to vote on the issue this weekend.

In speaking with reporters at the Pentagon on Tuesday about the proposal to lift the ban on homosexuals in the military, Gen. Amos said, “Mistakes and inattention or distractions cost Marines lives. That’s the currency of this fight. I don’t want to lose any Marines to the distraction. I don’t want to have any Marines that I’m visiting at Bethesda [National Naval Medical Center] with no legs be the result of any type of distraction.”

At the U.S. Capitol on Thursday, asked Senate Republican Whip Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), “Do you agree with Marine Commandant Amos’s assessment that repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ could cost military lives?”

Alexander said, “I think I have to consider that during my vote. I think this is the wrong time to change ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’” also asked Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), “Do you accept the judgment of Marine Commandant Amos when he says that lifting the ban on gays serving openly in the military will cost Marines lives?”

Gen. James Amos, commandant of the U.S. Marines Corp., December 2010.

Durbin responded, “I think the overwhelming response of the military is positive towards ending this discrimination. Other countries have done it effectively.  Men and women of different sexual orientation currently serving in combat in our armed forces, and I think if we come together we can make this work.”

In speaking with reporters on Tuesday, Gen. Amos had also said, "Right now is a very intense period of time for a pretty healthy slice of the United States Marine Corps. This is not training.”

“The forces that wear this uniform, that are in the middle of what I call the real deal, came back and told their commandant of the Marine Corps they have concerns," said Amos. "That's all I need. I don't need a staff study. I don't need to hire three PhDs to tell me what to interpret. If they have concerns, I do, too. It's as simple as that."