"I’m not concerned about two consenting adults and who they go to bed with," he said in testimony. He also said he has no plans to reverse President Obama's order to open all front-line combat jobs to women.
This sounds like good news, if equality in being sent to war is good news. However, when pressed to account for his statements made a few years ago that "don't ask don't tell" should not be repealed, he waffled.
When asked "do you believe that openly serving homosexuals, along with women in combat units, is undermining our force?" he refused to answer. In the past, he said LGBT soldiers would undermine military effectiveness (details here).
Mattis was asked several times to account for his past statements, and he waffled every time. So what he actually believes and what will happen once he's in the Pentagon are anyone's guess.
Mattis is not the only one to dance around LGBT rights during confirmation hearings last week. Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson would not say if he believes "gay rights are human rights."
For his part, Housing and Urban Development nominee Ben Carson (who is utterly unqualified for this position and is also a strident homophobe) made the bizarre statement that there would be no "extra rights" for LGBT people if he becomes HUD Secretary (details here).
Do "extra rights" equal "equal rights"? Who knows.
Bottom line: no one appearing in confirmation hearings last week embraced LGBT rights without reservation. No one vowed never to discriminate against LGBT people.
During confirmation hearings for George W. Bush nominees, I remember a lot of soft peddling around questions of equal rights. No one would come out and say "I'm a bigot" or "I'm a homophobe."
Confirmation hearings are designed to sell a nominee, not investigate one. The real test comes once they are sworn into office but, unfortunately, it's also too late.
We're seeing nothing like the welcome and embrace that we saw during the last eight years. For that reason, many people, including me, still remain deeply suspicious. There are too many homophobes in the highest level of this administration and no one to counter-balance them.