Despite promises and reassurances, President Obama has yet to touch the issue of gays in the military

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)

About Jason Bradley

Is a former military member with experience in Iraq and time in Europe. He lives in the Washington DC area with his wife and two young children. His background is in national security and has remained in the field since separating from the military. He is a political science major with strong interests in American politics, history, economics, and foreign policy. This blog is a way to express his interests. He also contributes at -- Big Peace and Big Government. Email him at
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9 Responses to Despite promises and reassurances, President Obama has yet to touch the issue of gays in the military

  1. writer chick says:

    Interesting and well written post – not being a fan of the current president, however, I suspect his motives are more self-serving than you seem to. Although I will agree in the vast scheme of things this does not truly seem a priority given everything else that is going on in this country.

    Ultimately though I believe he will follow the party line and leave the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy (the Clinton legacy) in place and skirt the political hot potato.

  2. Jason says:

    Writer Chick thanks for commenting.

    Ha! Stick around and you will see that I am no fan either, but I put aside my partisan ways when I see some points of agreement. I don’t agree in pushing the gay agenda as it is tantamount to social engineering. That is why I think he is doing this the right way by allowing the military to have a huge say so on the issue.

    I agree it is self serving, perhaps I should have brought that out a little more. But it wasn’t the focus of the post.

  3. The military operates at higher, but not “different,” “standards, rules, and conduct from American society.” Not that I’d expect you to know a damn thing about this “ancient and sacred fraternity.” Once again, you wade in to something you know nothing about, and you need to realize that the US military is not a band of angels whose words and attitudes demand no scrutiny (not that you have trouble doing this when I’m the soldier scrutinized).

    Those who argue that some citizens should be excluded from military service because their presence would hurt “unit cohesion” or make the lives of current troops uncomfortable are saying that current soldiers should be able to decide with whom they serve. This is bravo sierra–the military is not a country club whose members should be able to blackball undesirables.

    As a tank platoon sergeant I faced a variety of obstacles to unit cohesion, including affairs and arguments over women, unpaid gambling debts, racism, gang membership, laziness, and simple personality conflicts. The biggest one was the constant squabble between single junior enlisted troops who lived constricted lives in the barracks (daily inspections, etc), and the married soldiers who lived off post and lived much more freely (and also got time off for things like sick family members).

    The point is that conflicts will always arise among any group of people large enough to complete a destructive military mission, and leaders–like General Pace–have the mission of solving these problems. This turns out to be easier than one might think, since most soldiers, even when slighted, know when they are being treated fairly and when they are not, and they know good leaders when they see them. Good leaders can create cohesive, effective units from diverse raw materials. Saying that military units cannot integrate homosexuals into cohesive units is the same as saying that our armed services have too few effective leaders.

  4. Jason says:

    Stanton, seriously, for the last time you know nothing about me, what I have done, where I have been, what I have seen, or what I have accomplished. Just because others do not continuously go around telling everyone they serve or have served in the military doesn’t mean they haven’t. Some of us just have humility or a much healthier ego. Are you so inadequate in life that you need something to make yourself feel proud of?

    Another thing, you worthless and unbelievable prick, remember that I am younger than you and if I did serve it was after 9/11, in Iraq or Afghanistan — or both — it wasn’t on some tank base in Germany getting fat off peacetime beer and brauts. So spare me, your “old soldier” routine you fat government leach. You couldn’t carry the lowliest private’s boots into combat, you Clintonite era, worthless country club NCO.

    Spare me your crap. I’ve given you far more respect than you have ever shown me. And, Stanton, I am worthy of your respect. If you were half the soldier you claim to be you would understand that. But how could I expect someone like you to do that? You are incapable of doing so. You haven’t the tools or the experiences in which to do so. So don’t you ever again assume anything about me. And don’t ever talk to me again as if you understand anything about me because it is obvious on my end that you do not.

  5. Well, now. Must have hit a nerve.

    If you served, why keep it a secret? Your experience makes you what you are; embrace it.

    You write on a blog and share your opinions. Others will use this information to make assumptions about you, and I don’t plan to stop doing so. If you think people make incorrect ones, give them more information.

    In the end, all you guys really have is name-calling, but in case you are wondering, I don’t really care very much if you consider me a “worthless and unbelievable prick.” And all this sort of rant does is expose you as someone who has no real foundational belief that can stand on its own except “at least I’m not that asshole.”

    So tell us all what you really think.

  6. After some reflection, I would at least like to say that I do have more respect for you than I would for some others I classify as “whack jobs.” I have not read everything on your blog, but I have to say that I think your tone is less strident than some, and this is the first time I’ve seen you go off like this.

    If you don’t want people to make bad assumptions, though, you may want to tell them the truth. This will help your readers evaluate your essays and claims, and if you don’t they’ll just guess, as I did.

    More here, if you are interested.

  7. Jason says:


    I hold no grudges and your point of view is still welcome here no matter how much I disagree with most of what you say.

    By not revealing everything about myself does not mean I am withholding the truth or being dishonest. To say otherwise is wrong.

    I’ve gotten thicker skin over the years so our little exchange didn’t bother me or change anything. Besides, I try not to take myself too seriously. But, you may want to observe your own “strident” tones.

    Lastly, as I’ve said before to you, you served our country therefore you deserve my respect in that regard.

  8. writer chick says:

    Hey Jason,
    Thanks for the clarification. I like your style, kid. Keep up the good work.
    Annie (WC)

  9. Jason says:

    Thanks Annie. Glad you approve and I intend to get back over to your site. I’d like to share some links.

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