Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Just Wait Awhile
by Charles Lemos, Wed Jan 14, 2009 at 05:36:35 PM EST
In an overlooked YouTube video posted on Friday, a spokesman for Barack Obama said the president-elect is committed to ending the policy that bars openly gay men and women from serving in the U.S. armed forces.
In a response to a question on the Web site Change.gov asking whether Obama would get rid of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs said: "You don't hear politicians give a one-word answer much. But it's 'Yes.'"
Gibbs on Wednesday expanded on his answer, saying, "There are many challenges facing our nation now and the president-elect is focused first and foremost on jump-starting this economy.
"So not everything will get done in the beginning but he's committed to following through" with ending the policy against being openly gay in the military.
The DADT policy, which dates from the Clinton era, bans military recruiters or authorities from asking someone about his or her sexual preference, but also prohibits a US service member from revealing if he or she is gay.
Frankly, Congress is fully capable of leading the charge on this. In the 110th Congress, a bill was introduced in the House by Rep. Martin Meehan (D-MA), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, that would have implemented "a policy of nondiscrimination on the basis of sexual orientation." Congressman Meehan calls his bill to repeal the DADT ban the Military Readiness Enhancement Act. The bill would prohibit the military from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation, and it would specifically authorize anyone separated for homosexuality, bisexuality or homosexual conduct to be allowed back into the military if they wish.
The bill had 149 co-sponsors, but it never came up for a full vote in the House. It has yet to be re-introduced in the new 111th Congress. The bill requires 218 signatures to get it passed.
"The key here is to get bills that pass the House and the Senate, that we can get to President-elect Obama to sign, and I think that we can do that, certainly, the first year of the administration," one of the co-sponsors, Democratic Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher of California, told CNN in November.
No one should expect an avalanche of change on day one. The important thing to note is that yes, don't ask, don't tell will be ended. And that's cause for celebration.