The fact that President Obama has been slow has yet to followup on campaign promises about addressing the hot issue of allowing gays to serve openly in the military is a point that has not gone unnoticed by opponents or advocates. However, that may not be a bad thing. The president is allowing the normal process for the military to evaluate, study, and reach a decision on the issue by their own means. The possible outcome is something that will weigh heavily in Obama’s decision. As an institution — a society — in and of it self, President Obama is doing the right thing in giving the military leaders some say so and input on a policy that will undoubtedly shake the core of the ancient and sacred fraternity. And president Obama must respect, and obviously does, that he isn’t dealing necessarily with a social issue. The military stands apart and operates along different standards, rules, and conduct from American society. President Obama should be applauded, not criticized for understanding this.
It was just back in February that Obama revealed early glimpses of his reluctance to drastically change the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that currently governs sexual orientation in the military. His administration revealed that they were not interested in forcing lawmakers to rule in favor of gays serving openly until the military has completed a self-study and give their conclusion on the type of impact the new policy would have on the respective branches. In other words, the military will have wide latitude in dictating a change in policy. If President Obama takes ownership of the initiative and appears to be too forceful in implementing the new policy the debate could quickly cause a messy political fight that could sidetrack his other initiatives and he does not seem to eager to let that happen. In stead, he will allow the military to take ownership while he leans in over the process no doubt making his wishes known.
However, not everyone appreciates the president’s thoroughness and the president himself can be the one to blame. He raised expectations during the campaign by offering a one word answer, “Yes”, to a question on if he would allow gays to serve openly in the military. He has given several interviews where repeated his willingness and desire to make that happen as president. But, as each headline ticks across America’s view about another military member being forced out of the military because they are gay, and as more and more advocates show their displeasure with Obama’s thus far cool response to their demands, they are questioning loudly if Obama is strong enough to adhere to his own beliefs. (H/T Memeorandum)
As a candidate, Mr. Obama said he would seek to repeal the ban on gays in the military. But since he has taken office, administration officials have been less clear about the matter and its timing.
Last week, the White House was pressed to explain whether the administration would intervene to protect Lt. Dan Choi, a West Point graduate and Arabic speaker in the Army National Guard. He announced he was gay as part of a plan to challenge the law. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said the president believes the issue should be dealt with through legislation.
In the appeals court case last year, the Bush administration argued that Air Force Maj. Margaret Witt, who was discharged after authorities discovered she had a relationship with a woman, had no grounds to challenge her expulsion in light of congressional findings that gays and lesbians in uniform “create an unacceptable risk” to military morale and “unit cohesion.”
But the court ordered the government to show why military discipline would be imperiled by the specific presence of Maj. Witt.
President Obama faced an early March deadline to file an appeal to the Supreme Court. Obama aides twice filed requests asking for a one-month extension, which the court granted. The administration let the most recent deadline pass without seeking another extension.
A Justice Department spokeswoman said the government would defend the law at the trial over Maj. Witt’s dismissal. The decision not to appeal to the Supreme Court “is a procedural decision made because the case is still working its way through the regular judicial process,” she said.
White House spokesman Ben LaBolt said the president remains committed to repealing the law “in a sensible way that strengthens our armed forces and our national security” but added: “Until Congress passes legislation repealing the law, the administration will continue to defend the statute when it is challenged in the justice system.”
Some advocates for gay rights say they are becoming frustrated with what they see as mixed messages on the law on gays in the military. “This is a positive step but it’s in the middle of a slew of negative steps so we’re not really sure what’s going on,” said John Aravosis, an advocate who blogs on the issue. (Wall Street Journal)